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Fantasy V Reality – Streetcar Named Desire Essay

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Fantasy v reality
Remember: AO1 communicate clearly the knowledge, understanding and insight appropriate to literary study, using appropriate terminology and accurate and coherent written expression.

DuBois World
* “old south” mindset
* Aging Southern belle who lives in a state of perpetual panic about her fading beauty * Beginning she was half sane, then contributing people drive her to insanity.

* Loss of reality, represents fantasy

* “The state of your life is nothing more than a reflection of your mindset.” * “It wouldn’t be make believe if you believed in me” – Scene 7 * Story of a changing South containing characters struggling with the loss of aristocracy to the new American immigrant, the fallout of chivalry to a new mind-set of sex and desire, and a woman grasping desperately at the last bit of fantasy she can muster.

DuBois World

* “old south” mindset
* Aging Southern belle who lives in a state of perpetual panic about her fading beauty * Beginning she was half sane, then contributing people drive her to insanity. * Loss of reality, represents fantasy

* “The state of your life is nothing more than a reflection of your mindset.” * “It wouldn’t be make believe if you believed in me” – Scene 7 * Story of a changing South containing characters struggling with the loss of aristocracy to the new American immigrant, the fallout of chivalry to a new mind-set of sex and desire, and a woman grasping desperately at the last bit of fantasy she can muster.

The structure of A Streetcar Named Desire is best seen through a series of confrontations between Blanche DuBois and Stanley Kowalski. In the first scene the confrontation is not so severe, but it increases in severity until one of the two must be destroyed. To understand fully the scenes of confrontations, the reader should have a good understanding of what is at stake in each encounter. That is, he should understand some of the differences between the DuBois world and the Kowalski world. Kowalski World

* “new south” mindset * Beastly, Stanley possesses an animalistic physical vigor that is evident in his love of work, of fighting, and of sex * Represents reality * “He acts like an animal, has an animal’s habits! Eats like one, moves like one, talks like one! There’s even something sub-human — something not quite to the stage of humanity yet! Yes, something — ape-like about him, like one of those pictures I’ve seen in — anthropological studies.With his Polish ancestry, he represents the new, heterogeneous America” – Scene 4 (Blanche) * Destroys Blanche’s fantasy

Kowalski World

* “new south” mindset * Beastly, Stanley possesses an animalistic physical vigor that is evident in his love of work, of fighting, and of sex * Represents reality * “He acts like an animal, has an animal’s habits! Eats like one, moves like one, talks like one! There’s even something sub-human — something not quite to the stage of humanity yet! Yes, something — ape-like about him, like one of those pictures I’ve seen in — anthropological studies.With his Polish ancestry, he represents the new, heterogeneous America” – Scene 4 (Blanche) * Destroys Blanche’s fantasy

Exploration of boundary between exterior and interior sets. Two room Kowalski apartment reflects surrounding streets. Scene 10: grotesque menacing shapes, jungle noises and distorted music are employed to reflect Blanche’s terror. Scenes 10 and 11: The use of distorted shapes and jungle cries as symbols of human cruelty. Scene 9: We hear the vendor’s cry of the Mexican Woman, “Flores, flores para los muertos” (flowers, flowers for the dead).

It follows the moment when Mitch denounces Blanche as a liar and thereupon refuses to marry her. Blanche and Stella have huge dependence on male companions as it is their only way to achieve happiness (their sustenance and self image are reflected through men) Scene 4 Blanche recognises that Stella could be happier without the abusive husband for support, but this is hypocritical as she calls Shep Huntleigh for financial support. Stella chooses Stanley for love – Williams does not criticize but makes it clear that there is a FUTURE with him.

A Streetcar Named Desire Plot Analysis

Most good stories start with a fundamental list of ingredients: the initial situation, conflict, complication, climax, suspense, denouement, and conclusion. Great writers sometimes shake up the recipe and add some spice. Initial Situation

“Meat!”

Yes, that’s right – the early interactions between Stella and her husband constitute the initial situation of A Streetcar Named Desire. It’s important for us as the reader/audience to see the status quo of the Kowalski’s relationship before Blanche shows up and alters it for the duration of the play.

Conflict

Blanche arrives; something is up

The immediate physical incongruity of Blanche and her surroundings lets us know that she isn’t going to fit in well here in New Orleans. Her first conversation with Stella hints at secrets she’s trying to hide. And her first encounter with Stanley is wrought with tension, sexual and otherwise. All the news of the loss of Belle Reve doesn’t help, either.

Complication

Blanche’s relationship with Stanley grows more and more antagonistic, especially as Stanley learns more about Blanche’s past in Laurel. Blanche and Stanley’s relationship grows more and more difficult, with Blanche constantly insulting him, and Stanley becoming more angry and aggressive.

Stanley also learns about Blanche’s secret past, which he informs Stella and Mitch of. These multiple, small complications are what modern writer and essayist John Barth calls “incremental perturbations” – the water gets muddier bit by bit as the play progresses, and every new complication adds a layer of intensity and emotional weight to the story.

Climax

Scene Ten – the rape

Did you notice that Stanley says to Blanche, “We’ve had this date with each other from the beginning!”? We know that 1) Stanley doesn’t like Blanche, 2) he takes out his anger physically, and 3) he’s practically defined by his sexual aggression. This scene seems the inevitable result of their increasingly antagonistic relationship.

Suspense
Already happened

In this play, the suspense stage can be found in Scene Ten with the Climax. The suspense builds as we watch Blanche interact with Stanley, make a frantic phone call, declare repeatedly that she’s “caught in a trap,” and try to run away. Once the rape is over, we enter Scene Eleven without further suspense.

Denouement

Scene Eleven

With the rape and the birth of Stella and Stanley’s child over and done with, the play’s final scene has “falling action” written all over it. Blanche’s descent into madness is complete, and we’re now looking at the aftermath to the destruction that took place at the earlier climax.

Conclusion

Stanley and Stella on the porch together

Stella’s reaction to Blanche’s condition and story regarding her husband, and her decision to carry on her marriage in spite of it, constitute the play’s conclusion. This is summed up nicely in the image of her sitting on the porch with her baby in her arms, accepting comfort from her husband after her sister’s just been carted off to an institution.

Dialogue

Scene 9: “when I die, I’m going to die on the Sea.” – showing how after everything Blanche is accused of and put through, her fantasy is to be by the sea, washed clean and tranquil. Scene 9: “die..hand in hand of some nice- looking ship’s doctor, a very young one..” – Again, Blanche has always fantasized over young men, there are many references to Blanche and young men throughout the play.

Scene 9: “I don’t want realism, I want magic. Magic.” – Throughout the play Blanche is the symbol of Fantasy. She dislikes the way things are in reality, and so let’s herself live in her own dream world. Scene 4: “He acts like an animal, has an animal’s habits! Eats like one, moves like one, talks like one!” – Blanche likes to think of people in a more outworldy way. She tries to justify the way Stanley is by saying he’s just not human.

Stage directions

Scene 7: Contrapuntal staging – irony with Blanches singing and Stanley’s gossiping. “it wouldn’t be make believe, unless you believe in me” – Blanches fairy like songs , bringing her back to her dream world, wanting to escape from reality. The music of the ‘Blue Piano’. – every now and then Blanche breaks through her fantasy world and into reality again, this is shown when the ‘blue piano’ plays. It is a memory of her dead husband, and the way that he died. From Blanche’s reaction towards the music playing, we can tell it is a memory she wishes to forget: ‘she sways and covers her face’, ‘the polka tune fades out. Her breath is drawn and released in long, grateful sobs.’

Bibliography: http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/streetcar/themes.html Blue piano, magic

AO3 perspectives and viewpoints:

* Marxist viewpoint: Looking at the play ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’, it can be analysed through a Marxist perspective, reading into how the class struggle throughout the play is prominent in establishing Blanche’s role. Blanche and Stella are from a well off background, a plantation called “belle reve”. Stella has lived in New Orleans and has adapted well to the unfair male structure of the world she lives in, however the arrival of Blanche attempts to undo this with her intellect. However, even Blanche herself unable to break free from the convention of being second class citizen due to her status as a female, despite being intellectually superior to the males.

The class struggle between Blanche and Stanley is a key focus point throughout the play, with Blanche looking down on Stanley, constantly referring to him as a “polack”, a derogatory term she uses to set her superiority amongst him. This however backfire massively as it causes huge tensions between Stanley and Blanche, ending once the rape of Blanche has been successfully attempted. This can show in William’s point of view how despite room for change, the American 1940s is not ready for equality and change, with the class perspective overruling equality.

Ironically in the Marxist viewpoint, equality should be achieved by all in a socialist society; A Streetcar Named Desire elaborates on how the ideas of class equality is nothing more than a pipedream which cannot be attempted nor achieved in the dense capitalist America the play is set in. It can be further extrapolated to assume that Williams’ play is one to show the bitter struggle between fantasy and reality, with Marxism being the fantasy which cannot be achieved.

* Queer theory viewpoint: Links can be established with William’s own gay perspective of his personal life, uses the play a streetcar named desire to show the oppression he himself faces through being a gay man in the American 1940s; it was considered an illegal immoral activity, and so he could not openly state his personal life. Through using blanche he portrays his own fractured psyche, linking his oppression as a homosexual to the oppression she faces in the misogynistic structure of America at that time.

Whilst a time of change many things were still suppressed, with homosexuals and females being considered to be lower class than men, even males with a lower class background than the females. This can link well with how Blanche is treated during the play, despite coming from a higher class than the men of the play, she herself is supressed in her activities, and is considered mentally incapable and weak by the male characters as the play progresses.

It can be inferred that Williams uses the female characters of the play to convey his own sense of inferiority during the American 1940s. Williams’ ideas of fantasy versus reality feature prominently though the ‘queer’ perspective; he clearly shows Blanche’s own broken mind, elaborating by the end how she sees “lurid reflections appear on the walls in odd, sinuous shapes”. This can be seen as Blanche’s own struggle with fantasy versus reality, unable to distinguish the two.

AO4 Other work:

The themes of Streetcar are typical of Williams work. The idea of feeling trapped in a fantasy world, much like in ‘The Glass Menagerie’. The contrast in gender, woman feeling much more insecure about the reality of the outside work than the men of the plays was a common idea for many of Williams’ plays. The themes of fantasy in ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ are also similar to those of ‘Summer and Smoke.’ The sexual and spiritual characteristics of Blanche are much like that of the character Alma in ‘Summer and Smoke’

Williams’ personal life:

Williams sister was diagnosed with Schizophrenia and he remained close with her throughout his life. It can be inferred that this greatly influenced the ideas of mental illness’s being basis for fantastical elements within his plays. In the late 1930s Williams accepted he was homosexual, this was a crime during his period in which he lived in. this mean that Williams arguably included the idea of homosexuality in many of his plays as a way of escaping the troubles of his personal life. For example it is suggested that Blanche’s young lover who ended his life in ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ was homosexual. Historical background:

‘The American Dream’ was a key idea in the US during the 1940’s as it was soon after ‘The Great Depression’ This dream is often mentioned throughout the play, the name of Blache and Stellas old house being ‘Belle Reve’ translating to ‘beautiful dream’

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Fantasy V Reality – Streetcar Named Desire. (2017, Feb 22). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/fantasy-v-reality-streetcar-named-desire-essay

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