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Streetcar Named Desire Importance of Stage Directions

Uploaded by xsparklyvix on Sep 05, 2005

With reference to the first four scenes of the play, discuss the significance of setting and stage directions to our understanding and appreciate of the play

Tennessee William’s uses the setting and stage directions to help reinforce the various themes such as desire and death and to help the audience to relate further to the characters. This helps the audience to understand the scenes in greater detail and to ultimately increase the enjoyment of the play.

When Streetcar was written, Southern America was going through a time of economic decay, which mirrors the image of Belle Reve in ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’. The Southern and European culture at that time were acting against each other, mirrored in Stanley and blanche. Stanley represents the new heterogeneous America to which an aristocratic Blanche doesn’t belong because she is a relic from a defunct social hierarchy. Blanche is stuck win the past and she clings dearly onto her new possessions which is represented by her possessiveness of her letters. Stanley is clearly represented by this changing and the ability to adapt to new cultures of New Orleans.

The mix of characters and social elements around Elysian fields demonstrates the way New Orleans is historically different from other American cities in the South. It was originally a Catholic settlement (unlike most southern cities which were Protestant) and consequently typical southern social distinctions were ignored. Hence, blacks mingle with whites, which is evident from the stage directions of the white woman (Eunice) and the black woman sitting together.

Stanley, the son of polish immigrants, represents the changing face of America. Stanley is able to accept and is part of this change, which contrasts him to Blanche’s stubborn inability to change.

The name of the Kowalski’s street underscores these extreme, opposing archetypes that Stanley and Blanche represent. Elysian Fields is the name for the ancient Greek vision of the afterlife. Stanley, the primitive, pagan reveller who is in touch with his vital core, is at home in Elysian Fields but the Kowalski’s home and neighbourhood clearly are not Blanche’s idea of heaven. Blanche represents a society that has become too detached from its elements.

Tennessee uses the idea of setting through names and locations to show the contrast between his characters and reinforces the differences between their backgrounds. Through setting the play in a diverse and constantly changing setting it makes the following scenes more believable.


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Uploaded by:   xsparklyvix

Date:   09/05/2005

Category:   Plays

Length:   5 pages (1,101 words)

Views:   17727

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