Tennessee William’s Play a Street Car Named Desire
Tennessee William’s play, A Street Car Named Desire, creates conflict and tension between characters using several dramatic devices. It also makes clear use of the sound effects and music used during the production, the appearance of the characters as well as the language used. Blanche DuBois, the centralized character in the play is a woman in her early thirties, although she would have you believe otherwise.
William’s from the very start creates a veneer of Blanch and slowly throughout the story lets us know what is behind this attractive pretence.Blanch is first presented to the audience as a woman belonging to another class, superior to all her surroundings even such of her sister, Stella.
“Explain to me this place. What are you doing in a place like this? ” When Blanche is first introduced to Stella’s husband, Stanley Kowalski, she is quite attracted to him, she even flirts with this “common” man. Animalistic and exhibitionistic, Stanley removes his hot, sweat-soaked, smelly and sticky T-shirt in front of her, and changes into a clean one to “make myself comfortable. He offers Blanche a drink but she declines stating that “ones my limit” and that she rarely touches it. This being blatant lies, Stanley quite rightly remarks “Well, there are some people that rarely touch it, but it touches them often. ” Laying her cards on the table, Blanche later admits to Stanley that she only tells the truth when necessary, after all she wouldn’t want it affecting her playing her role. “I know I fib a good deal.
After all, a woman’s charm is fifty percent illusion, but when a thing is important I tell the truth… ”As the play progresses we find Blanch desperately trying to cling to everyone whilst maintaining her old ‘southern belle’, aristocratic, gracious and desirable frontier, not letting on that she is in fact penniless. “I’m not going to put up in a hotel. I’ve got to be near you Stella. I’ve got to be with people.
I can’t be alone… ” She plays this ‘role’ most likely only to keep up her self-esteem. Blanch is very self conscious pf her appearance, always wanting someone to reassure her with a compliment. Blanche: Would you think it possible that I was once considered attractive? Stanley: Your looks are ok.Blanche: I was fishing for a compliment, Stanley.
The very language that she uses is over elaborate and self conscious, with such exaggerated formality. Such carefully structured language perhaps signifies her desire to remain in control. It more likely is used to cover up her anxiety, unease, even extreme agitation at time boarding hysteria. She is constantly washing herself and bathing, hydrotherapy she calls it, purifying and cleansing her. Blanches relationship with Mitch is untruthful from the beginning, with nothing but a paper lantern disguising the illusion from reality.She is trying to hold onto what she has already lost; Belle Reve (Beautiful dream), her husband, her youth. The encounter with the boy collecting for the Evening Star newspaper amplifies the point of her longing to be young once again.
Blanche even falls into the trap of playing the role of fantasies which she even ridicules. “I attempt to instil a bunch of bobby-soxers and drug store Romeos with reverence for Hawthorne and Whitman and Poe! ” This perhaps has some link with Aunt Pennyman from Washington Square, meeting up with strangers in foreign places.Blanche has always said how she relies on the kindness of strangers. Although Tennessee Williams being a socially conscious playwright he still involved such themes that would challenge production code sensors of films at the time. The audiences of the time would have considered the play to be controversial to say the least, involving immoral and decadent acts, with it’s bold adult drama including rape, insanity, domestic violence, homosexuality and sexual obsession. Williams was noted for bringing to his audiences a slice of his own life and the feel of southern culture.