A Streetcar Named Desire Essay
A Streetcar Named Desire
Explore the methods used by Williams in the first two scenes of the play to introduce his audience to the main themes of the play.
Within the fist two scenes of ‘A Streetcar named Desire’ Tennessee Williams goes into extreme detail on setting, music within background and dialogues by the main characters. The reason for this is because he wishes to introduce the main themes in the play in the beginning.
Within the first scene Williams goes into detail with the stage directions to describe exactly how the opening scene should be, the reason for this is because Williams wanted the play to be set exactly the same away in which he imagined it to be. Williams uses the effect of the ‘blue piano’, which then sets the emotions, and feelings of life of the characters within the first scene. Another method that Williams uses to highlight themes is the lighting. Within the first Stage direction he describes the sky to be bright to show the dim white building in a peculiar tender blue, which gracefully highlights the atmosphere of decay within the street.
This shows a Theme of decay, which could link to the decaying of families, and societies, which Blanche struggles to grasp and understand. In the first scene both sister become reunited as Blanche is supposedly visiting her younger sister Stella. “They told me to take a street-car named Desire, and transfer to one called Cemeteries, and ride six blocks and get off at-Elysian Fields!” Elysian Fields has two meanings firstly the street that Stanley and Stella live on and also known within Greek mythology as the land of the dead, these then link together because Elysian Fields is not Blanche’s idea of heaven. This could then allow the audience to see a possible theme of Setting and Place.
Another theme that is found within the first scenes would be Lies. Immediately we notice that Blanche uses lying to cover up the truth so that the character seems to have a sense of purity and morality. The first lie is seen when Blanche questions why Stella hasn’t asked about her job at the school, Blanche tests Stella to see if she has heard any gossip from the south, ‘You haven’t asked me how I happened to get away from school’ and ‘You thought I’d been fired?.
Blanche begins to explain the reason for her having the time to take the trip to New Orleans, as she explains we can see that she becomes more nervous trying to convince Stella with the lie, we see this through Williams stage directions, which highlight her nerves such as ‘She drinks quickly’ and ‘ Nervously tamping cigarette’. Another lie made by Blanche is about the liquor, ‘No, one’s my limit’ we know that Blanche has already had a glass of Whisky and then pretends that she ‘Rarely touches the stuff” then she has a glass with her sister in celebration and then demands another small amount to ‘put the stopper on’ when she find out about Stella’s new life and what she left Belle Reve for.
Within the second scene a key event occurs, this is when Stanley investigates the truth about Belle Reve. This event first starts out by Stanley comparing Blanche’s lifestyle with Stella’s “Pearls! Ropes of them! …Where are your Pearls and Gold bracelets?” Stanley tries to prove to Stella that Blanches teachers pay could never fund such expensive jewels. Stanley tries to imply that Belle Reve was not lost but sold. But Stanley isn’t doing this for his wife; he wants to find the part of the fortune that belongs to him, William gives evidence of this when Stanley mentions the ‘Napoleonic Code… what belongs to wife belongs to the husband’.
This also emphasises the lifestyle in which Stanley was brought up in compared to Blanche and Stella’s upbringing when Stanley finds Blanche costume jewelry ‘Diamonds! A crown for an empress’/ ‘A rhinestone tiara’/ ‘What’s rhinestone?’. This allows the audience to see the theme of different types of lifestyle background’s the characters would have been brought up in within the play. Towards the end of scene two Stanley confronts Blanche about the property in Mississippi. The theme of gender appears to show that Stanley is the dominant male and his demands should be acted upon ‘don’t play so dumb. You know what! – Where’s the papers?’ Blanche’s confidence increases and mocks Stanley making him rage in anger causing him to take all of Blanche paper work on the estate and love letters from her late husband.
Williams use of stage directions allows us to see that these letters are personal to Blanche and that the touch of Stanley’s hands insults them. This allows us to understand that Blanche is aware of Stanley’s animalistic ways and his touch insults the ‘dead boy’. Stanley then finds the information of the estate and that it was lost on a mortgage. Stanley’s chance of receiving some of the estates wealth is not possible he then tries to hide his greed by saying he was looking into his wife affair’s because of the baby. Lastly Williams used an affect of double meaning on a quote ‘Which way do we – go now – Stella ?’, the first meaning was what to do tonight but the second is a question of what are they going to do now that they have lost Belle Reve.
A theme that becomes very noticeable within the first two scene’s is Gender. When Stanley re-enters in the first scene the audience can immediately understand that Stanley and Blanche are complete opposites except for one link, which is Stella. Williams use of stage directions allows us to understand that Stanley is a very animalistic character whose main pleasure is women. Stanley’s qualities are variously described as brutality, lust for life and virility. Stanley’s qualities affect Blanche because he is different to what Blanche is accustom to back home.
Towards the end of scene one when Stanley returns from bowling there is evidence that Blanche’s behavior changes and become more sensitive, her nature becomes different to the way she acts around her sister. Williams shows evidence of this firstly when Stanley questions her visit she become panicked and begins to mutter ‘I – uh-‘ Blanche is out of her comfort zone and has lost all confidence in herself. Secondly in the stage directions when a cat screeches near the window. Blanche overreacts and springs up with a scream were she becomes so panicked when around Stanley.