Characters and Staging of A Streetcar Named Desire Essay

Characters and Staging of A Streetcar Named Desire Essay

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   In Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire, the characters are extremely well defined.  In fact, they are so well defined obtuse critics have characterized them as two-dimensional, but Williams drew them that way intentionally so as to underscore the flaws that make their characters so memorable.

 

Blanche is an aging single Southern woman whose best days are in the past.  Blanche has not been able to make the adjustment from when she was the belle of the county at Belle Reeve, her family's southern home, to the harsh realities of her present situation, one in which she has always "depended on the kindness of strangers" (142).  All of her attempts at living in reality involve her trying to keep up appearances to match the fantasy "self" she sees in her mind.  Stella adjusted to the loss of Belle Reeve better than Blanche, but she cannot resist being submissive to her brutish husband, her way of maintaining an identity.  Stanley is all animal passion and male hormones.  He works, eats, drinks, plays poker with the guys and has sex.  If he has to slap his wife around once in a while to maintain order that's alright by him.  Mitch is the perfect mama's boy and he cannot help being at the mercy of his illusions regarding women.  He is used to being mothered and he is a middle-aged bachelor who carries around a cigarette case given to him by a formed love interest who died.  He is no more in reality where his idealization of women is concerned than Blanch is regarding her feminine appeal to men.  Everyone but Stanley is filled with illusions and needs, but Stanley is all passion and animal hunger, hunger he satiates in whatever way pleases him.  The characters are reinforced by the dialogue as we see Blanche beg St...


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...d we could hear it rumbling on the tracks as Stanley erupts in one of his angry outbursts).   Music of black performers should also be heard occasionally.  Music could also accentuate the date between Blanche and Mitch and it could be used effectively to help set the time and tone and flavor of the south during Blanches recollections of Belle Reeve.  The character I relate to most is Stanley because it would be fun to play a sensitive brute who only was a slave to his animal passions regardless of anyone else.  While it would be hard to surpass the film casting of Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter and Karl Malden in the lead roles, modern actors might include Kathleen Turner (Blanche), Brad Pitt (Stanley), Drew Barrymore (Kim Hunter) and Dabney Coleman (Mitch). 

 

WORKS  CITED

 

Williams, T.  A Streetcar Named Desire.  Signet Books, NY:  1947.

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