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A Tram named Desire is a play both grimly naturalistic and poetically symbolic, written by playwright Tennessee Williams. It is set in New Orleans publish the anxiety and World War II. The characters in A Tram Named Desire are trying to rebuild their lives in post-war America. Much of the characters and styles discovered in Williams’s dramas were originated from the playwright’s own life. Alcoholism, depression, desire, isolation, and madness were all consisted of. Normal of Williams’ style, Tram depicts the main character as Blanche DuBois, a, faded Southern belle who represents the culture and appeal of the past and her apparent distaste for her more youthful sis, Stella’s, hubby, Stanley Kowalski, a lower class Polish male who is the personification of modern practicality, ignorance, cynicism, and brutality.
Through this play we follow Blanche and her descent into insanity and lunacy.
This play is composed in the style of theatre is called expressionism/naturalism.
Expressionism in drama and art was a motion that declined standard approaches of representing objective truth.
Rather, expressionists exaggerated and misshaped elements of the outdoors world in order to ‘reveal’ specific moods and feelings. Expressionism continues to be an important influence on experimental theatre and art. Williams has actually utilized this design to depict his styles, concepts and characters in the play A Streetcar Called Desire. The character of Blanche, was actually a ‘collection of the womanly attributes’ displayed by Tennessee Williams. Naturalism can describe the method of depicting life in a clinically removed way; however, it is usually utilized to refer specifically to a nineteenth century motion in art and literature where the artists or authors claimed to be objective observers.
Naturalist writers were strongly influenced by evolutionary theory, and saw human beings as creatures constrained by heredity and environment, rather than as beings with free will. In regards to Streetcar Williams’ sought to depict working-class characters as psychologically evolved beings to some extent, he attempts to portray these ‘blue-collar’ characters on their own terms, without romanticizing them. Although these two styles of theatre seem to contrast and clash the playwright has used them to complement each other. He has used elements of naturalism but somewhat challenged the conventions of this particular style and effectively entwined it with forms of expressionism.
The context of a play is very important as it gives an insight of the playwright’s purpose of the play. One of the intentions of the play is to depict an Americans attempt of rebuilding their life post depression and World War II. His experience as a known homosexual in an era and culture unfriendly to homosexuality also informed his work. William’s most memorable characters, many of them female, contain recognizable elements of their author. His vulgar, irresponsible male characters, such as Stanley Kowalski, were likely modelled on Williams’s own father and on other males who tormented him during his childhood. In Streetcar, Williams challenged the values and attitudes of society in the portrayal of a multicultural society where everyone is equal, in regards to their race and culture.
“…you’ve got to realize that Blanche and I grew up in very different circumstances than you did”
Although the playwright has shown that racial class doesn’t matter, it is obvious that social stature still does. The rich and the poor are still separated. Since Blanche and Stella were raised in Belle Reve they subconsciously believe they are superior to ‘commoners’ like Stanley.
The central themes of this play are fantasy and illusion, cruelty, the primitive and the primal, loneliness and as the title of the book suggests, desire. Scene seven, the scene which we chose to perform, discusses the theme of cruelty, on Stanley’s behalf, loneliness from Stella and fantasy and illusion from Blanche. The only unforgivable crime, according to Blanche, is deliberate cruelty. In this scene Stanley attempts to ‘reveal’ Blanche as the low life prostitute she has become to Stella, hopefully convincing her to ‘side’ with him. He does this by being self-righteous, arrogant and demanding. Blanche however, oblivious of Stanley’s knowledge of her past, is in the bath once again ‘cooling’ herself off, singing ‘It’s Only a Paper Moon’ the popular 1940s ballad summarizes Blanche’s situation with regard to Mitch. She is in a state of pure oblivion that adds to her fantasy world.
Williams juxtaposes Blanche’s merry rendition of this song with Stanley’s malicious revelations about her character, creating a situation of tense dramatic irony as Blanche sings about a future that will never come true. The song describes the fanciful way one perceives the world while in love, but it also foreshadows the fact that Mitch falls out of love with Blanche after his illusions about her have been destroyed. In turn Stella feels lonely because she is isolated. She is torn between the man she loves and her sister.
A Streetcar Named Desire written by playwright Tennessee Williams is a play both naturalistic but poetically symbolic as it is written in the theatre styles of expressionism and naturalism. In performing a scripted piece it is imperative to learn of the text’s historical and authors context to fully realise and understand the development of characters, themes and ideas.
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