'A Streetcar Named Desire' by Tennessee Williams, Scene Nine - An Analysis


Term Paper, 2006

7 Pages


Excerpt

Table Of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Scene Nine

3. Works Cited

1. Introduction

For this term paper I analyse scene nine of Tennessee William's play A Streetcar Named Desire. The episodic drama was written in 1947 and is set in New Orleans. It is divided into eleven different scenes. The main characters of the play are Blanche DuBois, her sister Stella and her husband Stanley Kowalski. In a supporting part appears Mitch. Blanche is a thirty year old woman from Mississippi. At the beginning of the play she comes to visit her younger sister Stella in New Orleans, because she does not know where else to go. All of her family are dead except Stella. Blanche is helpless and seeks protection, because she has lost her home “Belle Reve”, her inheritance and her employment. Stella and Stan are living in a small apartment in the French Quarter of New Orleans called “Elysian Fields”. Blanche has to take the streetcars called “Desire” and “Cemeteries”. Here the strong symbolism of Williams' writing can already be seen clearly. The names of the streetcars foreshadow the course of the play and its outcome and in general show Blanche's journey in the play, from longing and desire to destruction. Blanche herself is connected with many symbols as well. Her name “Blanche” means “white”, which suggests purity. She wears clothes made of soft materials in pastel colors throughout the play. Quite frequently she takes hot baths to calm her nerves. Generally Blanche is often panicky and over-excited. Sometimes is seems as if she had a fever, because she is full of nervous energy and at the same time feels exhausted and faint. In her manner she tends to be decadent and nostalgic:

Blanche wants desperately to be a creature of culture, refinement, and gentility. She uses her poetic and imaginative faculties to re-create a charmed world, but Belle Reve and the idealized South that it stands for is only a “beautiful dream”, long a thing of the past, if it ever existed at all.[1]

She is playing the prudish and choosy lady from the South, which for her is a way to flee the hard reality. Blanche is disappointed at Stella's small and untidy two-room apartment, but because she has nowhere else to go she decides to stay with them. In her relationship with her sister Stella, Blanche is demanding and condescending, treating her almost as a servant. Blanche and Stella's husband Stanley have many conflicts. Stan does not like Blanche's “role-playing” with her acting so stuck-up and sees her as an annoying intruder. Blanche dislikes Stan because of his commonness and his rough, uncultivated and sometimes even animal-like behaviour. She feels disgusted by his force and vitality. Stan indeed is a very rough, self-centered and uncouth man and also a man of physical action. He can be brutal when he gets angry and even hits his wife, but he also has some “soft” moments with Stella. Stanley stands for realism and the real life, whereas Blanche in contrast stands for delusion and make-believe. Stanley is vulnerable to Blanche's criticism. For him she is a threat to his marriage and he believes that Blanche's presence is causing the quarrel between him and his wife. He resents her superior attitude, because he cannot stand anyone else being superior to him, at least not in his house. Stella is caught in the middle of their conflict. Blanche wants to start a new life and finds hope in Stan's friend Harold Mitchell, called “Mitch”. Mitch seems superior to all the other men, because of his sensitivity. He represents the decent gentleman Blanche is searching for. She wants him to marry her. They are at the beginning of a relationship and for a short time there is new hope and the possibility of a better future for both of them. They show mutual acceptance of one another. Mitch, like Blanche, had a big loss in his past. His Girlfriend died and because Blanche lost her husband as well, they have understanding and respect for each other. “He is understanding her need, has the ability to quit Blanche's guilt and restore her self-respect, but only by unquestioningly accepting her for what she is-an emotionally distraught yet spiritually valuable person.”[2]

Then Stan finds out the truth about Blanche's past which she tried to hide so well under her aura of a southern pure lady. Stanley does not think of the consequences and tells Mitch what he found out. In scene eight, the preceding scene, it is Blanche's birthday. Mitch was invited but does not turn up, which makes Blanche nervous. She senses that something is wrong. In scene nine Mitch confronts Blanche with her past.

2. Scene Nine

“I don't want realism. I want magic!”[3]

Scene nine shows the situation later that evening. Blanche feels not very well, which can be easily noticed by her body language:

Blanche is seated in a tense hunched position[...] The rapid, feverish polka tune, the “Varsouviana,” is heard. The music is in her mind; she is drinking to escape it and the sense of disaster closing in on her, and she seems to whisper the words of the song.[4]

The audience knows that the polka music is Blanche's motif in the play. It can always be heard when she starts feeling really bad. It is a tune from her past, connected to the death of her husband. The drinking is again a strong symbolism. She is addicted to alcohol, which is a contrast to the sophisticated behaviour she usually shows. It reveals how weak and worn out she really is. Mitch finally turns up, but he had a few drinks and is upset. This is not usual for him, it looks more like Stanley's behaviour. The audience by then already knows that Stan told him the truth about Blanche's past. Mitch ignores her kiss and does not behave like a cavalier anymore, but in contrast rough and uncouth.

[...]


[1] Adler, Thomas P. A Streetcar Named Desire: The Moth and the Lantern. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1990, p. 31

[2] (ibid. p. 45)

[3] Williams, Tennessee. A Streetcar Named Desire. Stuttgart: Philipp Reclam jun., 2003, p. 130, lines 6-12

[4] (ibid. p. 125 1-10)

Excerpt out of 7 pages

Details

Title
'A Streetcar Named Desire' by Tennessee Williams, Scene Nine - An Analysis
College
Ruhr-University of Bochum
Author
Year
2006
Pages
7
Catalog Number
V146854
ISBN (eBook)
9783640583003
File size
447 KB
Language
English
Tags
Streetcar, A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams, Williams Streetcar, Endstation Sehnsucht, Endstation Sehnsucht Williams
Quote paper
Marie-Christine Wittmann (Author), 2006, 'A Streetcar Named Desire' by Tennessee Williams, Scene Nine - An Analysis, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/146854

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