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Symbolism in A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams Essay

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During the late nineteen-forties, it was common for playwrights such
as Tennessee Williams to use symbolism as an approach to convey
personal thoughts, through the attitudes of the characters and the
setting. Williams' actors have used symbolism to disguise the
actuality of their thoughts and to accommodate the needs of their
conservative audience.

A Streetcar Named 'Desire' has a few complicated character traits and
themes. Therefore, they have to be symbolised using figures or images
to express abstract and mystical ideas, so that the viewers can remain
clueless. Williams not only depicts a clear personality of the actors
but he also includes real-life public opinions from the past (some of
which are contemporary.) These opinions were likely to raise
controversies on issues such as prejudice, social gender expectations
and men and women's roles in society.

There have been numerous occasions when symbolism has taken place in A
Streetcar Named 'Desire.' Firstly, Stanley is insulted several times
by Blanche (his sister-in-law) Stella (his beloved wife) and other
residents of the 'Quarter'.

For example, the term 'animal' has been constantly spoken of, to
define Stanley's malicious and ill-natured conduct. In scene four,
Blanche tries to persuade her younger sister to go elsewhere and leave
her husband. On page 163, she complains:

Blanche: He acts like an animal, has an animal's habits! Eats like
one, talks like one! There's even something - sub-human - something
not quite to the stage of humanity yet! Yes, something - ape-like
about him there he is - Stanley Kowalski - Bearing the raw meat
home from the kill in the jungle!

Furthermore, when the play begins, Stanley enters the ground-floor
apartm...


... middle of paper ...


... of the play,
Williams may be hinting that Blanche is gradually being ruined.
Perhaps her 'white radio' being tossed 'out of the window' tells us
that Stanley is already against Blanche and does not like the sound of
her being around.

I shall conclude this essay with a brief understanding of symbolism.
It is a very useful concept and often needed to give the audience a
few suggestions. Symbolism makes people think and broadens their mind
with varieties and ideas. In A Streetcar Named 'Desire', symbolism has
been significantly used to show the roles of men and women in society
and how they expect each other to be treated. It has disguised many
possible sexual scenes; therefore, Williams has succeeded in
transmitting some of his themes or ideas. Some of these are sexuality,
madness, jealousy, racism, cruelty, loyalty, gender relationships and
conflict.


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