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Visual & Performing Arts
English (U.S.)
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A Streetcar Named Desire (Essay Sample)


*The questions do not need to be in essay format. You should answer the questions in more of a bullet point layout.*


A Streetcar Named Desire
A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
1 Themes found in A Streetcar Named Desire
Old South vs the New South.
Blanche represents the Old South and Stanley and Stella represents the New South before the American civil war. The families in the Old South were wealthy, had large tracts of land and good houses. During this period there was racial discrimination and the society was had, social classes. In the New South represented by the community in New Orleans, the people are working class just like Stanley. People started moving from the land ownership setting of the Old South and lived in cities in apartments because the economy was moving from traditional farming systems because of industrialization. The New South also comes with an era of integration of race and class and though the change was very gradual, it was the start of a new era. Families of different ethnicities and of now lived in an apartment together unlike the caste system of the south. Blanche is trying to blend into the New South though she hasn’t dropped the Old South mentality despite the world having left her behind.
Illusion vs reality:
Blanche seems to be trapped in her imaginations and she uses illusion to escape the reality she experiences. She tries to mask her problems and challenges rather than facing them and addressing them. He dresses expensively to mask her financial problems and she puts the shade on the lamp such that no one knows how old she is. She even doesn’t want to be seen in the light and ensures her dates are scheduled for the night. Most of the characters bring out this theme differently. Mitch buys into Blanche’s illusions and falls for it because she knows probably he couldn’t handle the truth. Stella also imagines and tries to perfect her relationship with her husband although he even abuses her and she overlooks his shortcomings.
Men and masculinity:
Throughout the play, masculinity is portrayed as aggression, control, physical dominance, and even violence. The men also seem to have lack refinement, manners, and sensitivity. It is the archaic societal standards which are very patriarchal and overlooks women. Stanley abuses Stella and she still thinks it is exciting and attractive. Stanley abuses and rapes Blanche and he gets away with it. Throughout the play, Stanley behaves like an alpha male and he wants to dominate the lives of Stella and Blanche not out of any logical reason but because he is the man. Mitch also wants to assert his masculinity on Blanche by describing his physicality to her in details about his height. Though he is not as violent and abusive as Stanley, he still portrays an element of radiating his masculinity especially in the presence of women.
2 How these themes are reflected in the design of the show.
The setting of the show is designed to bring out these themes directly and indirectly. Masculinity theme is often shown when Stanley frequently stripping his shirt off and showing his body. In showing illusion and reality, Blanche tries to dress expensively to mask her financial woes. From the show, her choice of clothes and their price tag seem relatively more expensive than the other costumes worn by the other characters. The materials featured in the play especially the fragile ones are easily broken and are positioned precariously to heighten the violence in the play. The lighting also is designed to bring out the typicality of the 1940s and 50s household. It is easy to tell from the organization of the house that it is not a modern household and the

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