Tragedy in A Streetcar Named Desire

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A tragedy is a genre of a play, a form of drama that portrays the suffering of a heroic individual who is often overcome by the very obstacles he is struggling to remove. A tragedy excites terror or pity. Each tragedy can be considered a tragedy because it involves a tragic ending to the play as a whole and a tragic hero. However, there are three main different types of tragedies. Firstly, in Greek tragedies, everything is deterministic. For example in the story of Oedipus (where he kills his father and marries his mother), fate is said to be responsible for all the events. This type of tragedy is very entertaining to watch because the protagonist is unable of changing and knowing the events. Greek tragedies are interesting because they followed the "Three Unities" : unity of time, unity of place, and unity of action. Greek tragedies normally took place in a single day, happened at a single location, and had one plot line without any subplots. Greeks used to use this because tension could be built up easily.

Another different type of tragedy is the Shakespearean type, where in general people are great and rise to a greater position. The hero has a fatal flaw in his/her character that makes him/her act in a way that eventually leads to his/her downfall (like in Macbeth where his fatal flaw is his excessive obsession with ambition and power). Another example of a Shakespearean tragedy is Romeo and Juliet because their fatal flaw was excessive passion for each other. Shakespeare did not follow any of the three unities because he felt that it was easier to facilitate the plot.

Finally, another type of tragedy is a modern version of the Shakespearean type. Where someone not great is put into a situation where they are forced to t...

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... a tragedy of Stanley’s incomprehension of Blanche’s needs. However there were many criticisms concerning this statement of this play being a tragedy. There are many factors that contributed to Blanche’s downfall and she seems to fit, the requirements for being a tragic heroine, perfectly. One may think that Blanche Dubois does not fit into the category as a tragic heroine, not because she is not tragic enough, but because she is not sympathetic enough to a heroine.

By writing A Streetcar Named Desire, Williams seems to be playing with different styles of tragedies. The set of the play is in one place (the apartment and its street), so in this way one can consider it as a Greek tragedy. It also seems clear that Williams created an American tragedy with Shakespearean drama in mind. Williams stated that “creating a new, modern tragic form of a play was difficult”.
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