Tennessee Williams' Use of Dramatic Devices To Create Contrast And Conflict In "A Streetcar Named Desire"

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Tennessee Williams' Use of Dramatic Devices To Create Contrast And Conflict In "A Streetcar Named Desire" Tennessee Williams uses a number of dramatic devices to highlight the conflicting worlds of the old and new American South. These can be divided into four categories: staging, character and language, and props and costumes. I will be using these categories for reference in this essay. 'A Streetcar Named Desire' is an example of the genre 'realism'. Realism is fiction that is overtly gritty and realistic, showing real people in real situations, and also comments on the state of the world at that time. The play is set shortly after the American Civil War, which was fought over the right to keep slaves; the South wanted to keep slaves on their plantations, working for free, but the North wanted them to work in their factories, for a wage. The North (confederate) won the Civil War and immediately set about industrializing the South. The play is set in New Orleans, one of these newly industrialised areas. In this essay I will examine how Tennessee Williams used these devices to create conflict between the main characters, to provide a social commentary on a changing America, and how these changes affect the main characters of the play. Tennessee Williams stages 'A Streetcar Named Desire' extremely effectively, with much of the play set in the small, confined room of the apartment: Stella: "With only two rooms..." (p.9) This instantly creates and intensifies tension because all the characters are forced to be close together; there is no privacy. When Blanche first enters the play, she is instantly incongruous and out of place: 'she looks like she is dressed for a tea party' (p.3) This contras... ... middle of paper ... ...character; she too is obsessed with the idea of death, and aging. Tennessee Williams even said once: "I am Blanche," which shows he has based her character heavily on himself; they both view men as uncultured brutes, both have an obsession with death. Blanche has this obsession because she had to witness her family, and her old way of life, dying slowly. Now it seems to her like that time in her life was all just a dream of illusion. This is illustrated in the translation of 'Belle Reve', which means literally 'Beautiful Dream'. Blanche losing Belle Reve represents her losing an illusion of life and being brought back down to earth. In conclusion, through careful use of staging, props, costume and language, Tennessee Williams creates a powerful portrait of conflict between the old and new South, between death and desire, and between Blanche and Stanley.
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