Tennessee Williams Essay
Streetcar Named Desire was written to be performed. It was written to be watched. Tennessee Williams wrote it as a piece of theatre to deal with and convey contemporary ideas at that were profound at the time. Ideas of homosexuality and mental disorders were among the ones dealt with in this play. Evidently audiences were moved and touched by the play as critics later wrote that it was “a searing drama of love and passion, life and death, truth and honesty.
” Audiences were said to have come away “moved yet elated after having been sitting in the presence of truth. ” So it must have had some sort of effect. The techniques used must have done something to win over the hearts of both audiences and critics alike. Tennessee Williams was not only an amazing playwright but also theatrically brilliant. His use of theatrical symbols, stage directions and attention to close details makes an evident difference in the quality of his plays and their successes as dramatic pieces.
One thing Tennessee employs often in this play is music. Some of this music has a symbolic use such as the polka tune ‘Varsouviana” which plays as we enter the thoughts and the past of the main character Blanche DuBois. This tune not only serves to differentiate the present day world from her thoughts but also may serve to unsettle the audience and hint towards her tragic breakdown.
It achieves this through its contrast with the sounds of the “tinny piano being played with the infatuated fluency of brown fingers” and the “blue piano” which are the normal, everyday sounds of New Orleans. Perhaps foreshadowing the abnormality of Blanche and how she is out of place even in her thoughts. Tennessee Williams also uses music to contrast characters and their relationships. For example the polka when Blanche is thinking about the past and her first love Allan and the blue piano when we are in the present with Stanley and Stella.
Tennessee Williams also uses sound effects as symbols. Some examples of these are the locomotive sounds and the cat screeches that make Blanche’s lunacy evident at times. Some critics would argue that this is part of the play that Williams makes things, such as Blanche’s deteriorating mental condition, too evident. Another dramatic device used in this play is the staging. One of the main things that stands out when reading this play even on the first page is the poetic sound of the stage directions.
They are very atmospheric and set the mood. However, my one concern as a dramatist was that this vagueness might leave too much up to a director’s interpretation, which may not be quite right as different directors adopt different concepts. For example they may all have different opinions of what an “atmosphere of decay” is and how it should be portrayed. This is my main concern for the stage directions in this play mainly because it is so symbolic and a very different interpretation could possibly cause difficulties later on.
However, these stage directions do serve as very mood setting and are very particular to certain details such as the such as the shirts in scene III where Williams goes as far as to specify the colors. Williams also makes use of properties. Once again he provides details in some places where necessary. Such as in scene nine where the brand of liquor “Southern Comfort” is important. Also in scene nine the stage directions specify a chair that Blanche has “re-covered with diagonal green and white stripes. ” Illustrating the territorial battle between Blanche and Stanley.