Streetcar Named Desire

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Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire earned the dramatist a place in literary history. The play itself laid waste unspeakable taboos; slaughtered many a sacred cow, causing controversies that would spark societal debate for decades to come. Set during 1940s America, based in the city New Orleans - the Southern outpost for the new heterogeneous America. Numerous themes are explored by Williams such as desire, loneliness, and cruelty. However this essay’s primary concern is the Old South vs the New South. This conflict is distilled through two major characters: Blanche and Stanley. Both come to symbolise the values of their respective idealistic worldview. Williams facilitates the Old vs New conflict through nomenclature. Blanche -…show more content…
All these different cultures add to melting pot feel of New Orleans - itself the centre of the new world in Southern America. All this must have felt like another planet to the debutant Blanche. The plantation, Belle Reve - again of French origin - is the very personification of the colonial past. With its white columns and vast acres it links Stella to her heritage, one she was desperate to escape. Meaning beautiful dream this symbolises the life that has now faded away lost forever through ‘epic fornicatons’. Contrasted with Elysian Fields which are the land of the dead in Greek mythology foreshadowing Blanche’s eventual downfall. Whereas Belle Reve would have had huge expansive rooms Stella's new apartment was confined and claustrophobic. Williams portrays Stanley as the embodiment of the American dream. A society where success is based on hard work and individual merit he says “what I am is a one hundred percent American, born and raised in the greatest country on earth and proud as hell of it” (Williams:1962). A war veteran and someone who takes great pleasure in his materialistic possessions. An alpha male, he’s portrayed as living for the moment yet as a former Master Sergeant and climbing the social ladder there much be much more to…show more content…
For instance, Blanche the English teacher, consistently refers to her love of literature and the arts including the Strauss opera Der Rosenkavalier ‘My Rosenkavalier!’ (Williams:154,1962) and ‘Vous etes--Armand!’, and La Dame aux Camélias (Williams:158,1962) by Alexandre Dumas. She uses these to convey a sense of superiority over the unschooled Stanley and Mitch. Blanche’s illusions are all referring to artists long since passed away further conveying the sense of decline for that world. Contrasted against Stanley, whose love of poker and bowling are conventional, crude working class interests. Stella has been brought down to Stanley's level as she is now reading the ‘colored comics’ (Williams:156,1962) and joins Stanley on his bowling trips. Unrefined Mitch has few interests outside of going to the gym, and while Blanche romanticizes him in French he complains being ‘ashamed of the way I perspire’ (Williams:185,1962). In some respects this is snobbish view of working class pop

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