Presentation on theme: "Kerstin Fontus Emily Holloway Zachary Jones Jocelyn Kemp River Nicholas Emily Severeid Play Project Honors English II."— Presentation transcript:
Kerstin Fontus Emily Holloway Zachary Jones Jocelyn Kemp River Nicholas Emily Severeid Play Project Honors English II
Title A Streetcar Named Desire Literary Genre This play is a tragedy A tragedy is a type of narrative work that depicts disastrous events, and typically has a miserable but monumental ending This type of play can also be described as a narrative showing a terrible event, particularly one involving worrying loss or injury to life What is a tragedy?
Tennessee Williams March 26, 1911 – February 25, 1983 Thomas Lanier “Tennessee” Williams III was an American playwright, whose career lasted from the 1930s to his death in Williams’ father, Cornelius Coffin Williams, was a drunken shoe salesman. His mother, Edwina Coffin Williams, was an archetypal ‘Southern belle.’ He had one sister, Rose, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a young woman. He found lots of inspiration for his writing in his dysfunctional family. Tennessee Williams has written many other works, such as short stories, novels, poems, and screenplays.
Plot Summary The major conflict is that Blanche DuBois arrives at her sister’s home in New Orleans, hoping to start a new life after losing everything, including her reputation, she had in her old life in Laurel, Mississippi. The rising action of the play is Blanche’s brother-in-law, Stanley Kowalski, wrongly suspects Blanche of swindling Stella out of her inheritance. Blanche begins to despise Stanley for drunkenly beating her pregnant sister. Stanley, who is suspicious of Blanche, researches her past to find that she was known in Laurel for her sexual immorality for having an affair with a teenage student. He tells Mitch, Blanche’s suitor, to dissuade him from marrying Blanche. The climax of the play is at Blanche’s birthday dinner, when after Stanley gives Blanche a bus ticket back to Laurel as a present, Stella (Blanche’s sister) goes into labor. Later that night, Stanley comes home drunk and rapes Blanche. The falling action occurs after Blanche told Stella that Stanley had raped her, Stella couldn’t believe it, and prepares for Blanche to leave for an insane asylum. Blanche believes she is leaving to be with a millionaire suitor, and after a brief struggle leaves with the doctor.
Themes One theme in A Streetcar Named Desire is fantasy’s inability to overcome reality. This theme is depicted during the play when Blanche explains to Mitch that she does not accept the reality she is living in, and that when she lies to herself and others, it makes life easier and more like the way she wants it to be. This theme is also seen, though reversed, in Stanley, who is firmly rooted in reality and has a disdain for Blanche’s fantasy world, and constantly tries to ruin it for her. Near the end of the play, when Blanche has fully plunged into her reality world, her insanity emerges and she leaves the objective world behind her in order to avoid reality.
A second theme in this play is dependence on men. This theme is used in this play as a critique on postwar America placed restrictions on women’s lives. Both Blanche and Stella see male companions as their only ways to achieve happiness. Blanche sees that Stella could be happier without Stanley, who is physically abusive. Despite her seeing this for Stella, she herself still depends on men, as that can be seen when she contacts a former suitor of hers, Shep Huntleigh for financial help. By putting her dependence on men, Blanche cannot see how to rescue herself. She does not realize her reliance on men will lead to her downfall, and that by doing so she is putting her fate in the hands of others.
Setting The main setting of the play is in New Orleans in the 1940s in Stella and Stanley Kowalski’s first floor, two room apartment. The set is designed so that the audience can also see “outside” of the apartment. The overall meaning of the play is that our ambitions and desires can have a huge affect on our lives if we obsess over them and try to seek them out. Blanche’s desires have brought her from a high class lifestyle in Mississippi, to a lower class lifestyle in New Orleans.
Blanche DuBois Blanche is Stella’s older sister who was an English teacher in Laurel, Mississippi until she was forced to leave her post. She is the protagonist of the story. Throughout the play she is trying to recreate a life for herself, since she lost everything back in Laurel, Mississippi. When Stanley rapes her, she loses the rest of her sanity and is admitted to an insane asylum.
Stella Kowalski Stella is Blanche’s younger sister. She has an innocence about her that sets her apart from her more vulgar neighbors. Stella left her richer family in the past when she was a teenager to marry Stanley, a lower-class Pole. Stella is a foil to Stanley, who is cruel and suspicious of Blanche. Stella cares for her sister even if she may not entirely deserve it.
Stanley Kowalski Stanley is Stella’s husband, and Blanche’s brother-in-law. He is loyal to his friends, passionate to his wife, and cruel to Blanche. Stanley is a crude human and he does not show remorse for his actions. Stanley is the antagonist of the play. He is constantly trying to ruin Blanche’s life that she is trying to recreate in New Orleans.
Harold “Mitch” Mitchell Mitch is one of Stanley’s poker buddies who was also one of his fellow soldiers during World War II. Mitch lives with his dying mother, and that makes him more sensitive than the other poker buddies. For a time during the play, Blanche and Mitch are dating. However when Stanley tells him who Blanche used to be, he ends things with her.
Symbolism: The Varsouviana Polka The first time this polka is mentioned, it is when Blanche reminisces about her first husband, Allen, whom she walked in on with another man in bed. Later that night, when they all three went dancing, she told Allen that he disgusted her. After that, he rand off and shot himself in the head. Every time after that, when the polka is mentioned, it is when Blanche is feeling remorse for Allen’s death. The first time the audience hears it is when Stanley asks about Blanche’s husband, and again later when she tells the story of Allen to Mitch. Whenever the polka plays it represents Blanche’s loss of innocence. This song is what triggered Blanche’s mental decline. Whenever she hears this song, she panics and loses her grip on reality.
Tone: Ironic and Sympathetic Realism In the beginning of the play, Blanche is portrayed as a silly sort of person, by spraying her perfume on Stanley and flirting with men at the poker table. All of these actions are meant to be humorous, and they are, though in a sad way, and they make the audience feel bad for her. These two things help create the tone of ironic and sympathetic realism. Blanche is the reason the tone takes on the sympathetic and ironic tone of the play. She evokes sympathy from the audience and creates a sense of irony in the play.
Symbolism: Meat In Scene 1, Stanley throws a package of meat at Stella to catch. This symbolizes a innuendo of sexual “ownership” Stanley has over Stella. Stella delightfully catches the package, which symbolizes how taken with him she is
Allegory: Elysian Fields In Greek Mythology, Elysian Fields is the name for the land of the dead This is ironic because Elysian Fields is the last place for the souls of the heroic and virtuous, which Blanche is not. This shows how Blanche now has to live out her life in the ghost of who she used to be, who maybe at one time was virtuous. However, when her husband, Allen, died, her whole life changed for the worse.
“Whoever you are – I have always depended upon the kindness of strangers” (11; pg. 178) This quote is said by Blanche to the doctor who has come to take her to the insane asylum in scene eleven. One reason this quote is ironic is because Blanche perceives the doctor as the millionaire gentleman, Shep Huntleigh, whom she sent for as a rescuer from her new life in New Orleans. A second reason this quote is ironic is Blanche has always depended on the kindness of strangers, and that is what has ended her up in this situation where she is being taken to the insane asylum.
“They told me to take a street-car named Desire, and transfer to one called Cemeteries, and ride six blocks and get off at—Elysian Fields!” (1; pg. 6) This quote is said by Blanche in the first scene of the play when she first arrives at Stella and Stanley’s home in New Orleans. This quote illustrates Blanche’s life on a metaphorical level. First, her pursuit of her own sexual desires caused her to be kicked out of her hometown of Laurel, Mississippi. Elysian Fields, the Kowalski’s street, is the name of the land of the dead in Greek mythology. This is symbolic as though she were sent here to live out the consequences of her former life.
“Oh, I guess he’s just not the type that goes for jasmine perfume, but maybe he’s what we need to mix with our blood now that we’ve lost Belle Reve.” (2; pg. 45) This quote was said by Blanche about Stanley, in scene two of the play. This comment indicates how Blanche thinks of Stanley. She sees him as a lower-class Polack who lacks the refinement in taste to understand the finer things, unlike Blanche. Blanche realizes that Stella and Stanley’s child might also lack the refined taste and quality of childhood that she and Stella had enjoyed. However, their child will probably grow up learning the survival skills that Blanche lacks, and ultimately causes her failure to lead a successful and happy life.