Use of language – A Streetcar named Desire Essay
Use of language – A Streetcar named Desire
In some areas of ‘A Streetcar named Desire’ the use of language and the comparison between different characters’ use of language is important to the plot and the audience can then distinguish between the character’s statuses and roles. The way in which the characters act can sometimes cover up what they are actually feeling but by analysing their words and the way in which the lines are meant to be projected we can clearly see just how they feel at any specific time. Stanley, the main male character, is a very strong, determined and powerful character.
From certain lines and how he reacts to things, it is clear that he speaks before he thinks: “I don’t care if she hears me. Let’s see the papers. ” In this line it is clear that he ‘means business’. He displays the power over other characters with orders such as this one that he uses against Stella whilst they snoop around Blanche’s things as she bathes. He also shows himself to be higher in status than other characters by calling himself a ‘king’. When Blanche calls Stanley a ‘Polack’ he is shot down to reality again and it becomes clear to him that he is no better than anyone else to anyone except himself and possibly Stella.
Blanche uses insulting words towards Stanley, as she knows that he doesn’t like being referred to as a ‘pig’ or a ‘Polack’. This is what he is however, and by acting the way he does he simply backs up Blanche’s claims! The adverbs used with Stanley’s speeches also give emphasis to his character I. E. ‘ominously’, ‘angrily’, ‘booming’ and ‘contemptuously’. These give more indication to his actual meaning-the hidden truth behind his words. They give the idea he is powerful, headstrong and has a hot temper because most of the words imply a bad mood or even a violent one. Blanche uses her words more carefully than Stanley.
The things she says mean more than what they would appear to on the surface. However, this is not dependant on how she says things but instead why she says them at that particular point. The reader can wonder to their full extent why she lies at first, she obviously has a problem with admitting the truth. She leaves long pauses and is obviously a sly type of person as she emerges with lies that are elaborate ad obviously took a great deal of thinking about. Blanche also lives in the past, or so it would seem, looking back to when she was younger, her hay-day and her marriage all those years ago.
We can clearly see this when she has a memory of the night her husband died, it seems as if she is almost there at the time, re-playing it in her head again. She also takes sympathy from anybody she can, like in the end scene where the doctor coaxes her out of her cocoon to take her to the asylum. She responds to his outstretched hand with “I have always relied on the kindness of strangers”. Blanche refers to the compassion that some strangers show however, not all strangers are friendly and they could actually harm her more than I think she realises.
This line shows Blanche’s true naivety and suggests that she has always had to have someone to look after her, someone to rely upon. Blanche seems very stuck in her own world and is definitely a fantasist, continually living in her own ‘pretty’ world in which nothing can hurt her. The words she uses and her mannerisms are possibly quite typical of an English teacher, she seems to be someone who reads and interprets a lot of poetry and fairy-stories. This is also backed up in her use of metaphors. When she refers something to another thing she makes it very poetic and magical: “… Colours of butterfly wings, and make a little temporary magic.
” The words she uses in this comment about dressing up is also quite important as we see her image of dressing up, changing to become a beautiful butterfly. This reflects her change through the play although instead of caterpillar to butterfly it is quite the opposite as Blanche breaks down. She often drifts in the middle of sentences to daydream or contemplate the impossible. From this we can see she is quite unlike her younger sister who generally looks at everything straight on. Stella is a more down-to-earth character. She sees sense in everything and more often than not tries to see the best in a bad situation, a real optimist.
She is even able to see something good in Stanley even though Blanche only sees his gruff exterior. In explaining to Blanche why Stanley isn’t as bad as she would believe, Stella uses an example that had recently happened, the night before he threw a radio out of the window of their apartment: “(It) didn’t land on the pavement so only one tube was smashed. ” Whereas most people would figure that it would be better if the radio hadn’t been smashed at all, Stella sees the positive side and doesn’t blame Stanley, however this might just be due to the sexual attraction she feels towards her husband.
You can see beyond the character of Mitch in the way he uses language. He can be quite gentle at times and say things he believes can impress women like Blanche. This is evident in his blatant compliment to her in their first meeting: “You may teach school but you’re certainly not an old maid. ” He tries to show Blanche how much he thinks of her but later in the play we see Mitch become very angry and agitated, all because of Blanche. Possibly he does think a lot of her at first but the truth changes his opinion of her completely.
Mitch is probably the most sensitive of the male characters in ‘A Streetcar named Desire’. He uses gentle words around Blanche usually and his sensitivity shines through in his words, however it seems he is far from the knight in shining armour she hopes for. The gentlemen in her past were more elaborate, richer and possibly a lot more gallant, however as she believes herself to be a ‘wilting flower’ she may also believe Mitch is the best she can do.
Through the language of the characters it becomes easier to distinguish the differences and similarities of them. The language and accents are used to help to set the scene in New Orleans with Pablo, Stanley and Blanche being all in the same place but very different. The diversity can be seen in the characters through their use of language and the way in which they present their lines. Contributing to the visual aspects, lines give a sense of the time, place and person and how they react to one another.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 10 July 2017
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