Symbolism In A Streetcar Named Desire By Tennessee Williams

3494 words - 14 pages

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
apartment carrying 'a red stained package from a butcher's.'

Stanley: Catch!

Stella: What?

Stanley: Meat!

From these two brief extracts, the keynote is that the red meat is a
symbol used to show Stanley's 'bestial' attitude, which is also in
another of Blanche's dialogues:

Blanche: There's something downright - bestial - about him!

The image Blanche creates of Stanley (him being an animal - an ape) is
coincidental to the fact that she is actually describing her
brother-in-law, throwing red meat to his wife in an unacceptable

We know that Blanche had not been present, at the time of the event.
This clearly proves that Stanley's bad actions are so obvious, even
other characters in the play can predict his actions. It is just like
saying a tiger arrives at his habitat with 'red meat' and feeds his cubs,
similar to what any other animal would do. Basically, Stanley tossing
the pack of meat at his wife could symbolise that he is not a normal
human being! He is an animal, a caveman, or even a 'madman', as Blanche
prefers calling him! (Page 158)


Find Another Essay On Symbolism in A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

1669 words - 7 pages of these men may have been from different time periods but they are the same when it comes to their attitudes towards leadership, treatment of women, and their way to confirm assumptions. In Tennessee Williams’ play A Streetcar Named Desire and William Shakespeare’s famous Tragedy Othello, Stanley and Othello sensitivity to their racial stereotypes encourage their strong leadership qualities to disprove the preconceived notions people have

"A Streetcar Named Desire" by Tennessee Williams

614 words - 2 pages Jim Harrison once said that "We must live with our loneliness and we must not destroy ourselves with our passion to escape our loneliness." Or in other words we all have the desire for attention and to know that we are loved, but there are more important priorities that come before these wants. In the play "A Streetcar named Desire" There are 2 characters that portray the truth in this quotation. Tennessee Williams Uses two different people in

A Streetcar Named Desire, by Tennessee Williams

1172 words - 5 pages Street Car Named Desire A Streetcar Named Desire, written by Tennessee Williams in 1947, has been called the best play ever written by an American. The geological setting of the play, New Orleans, creates a remarkably blended mood of decadence, nostalgia, and sensuality. The plot of the play comes about through the conflict between a man and his sister-in-law who comes to live at his house with he and his wife. Stanley Kowalski immediately

A Streetcar Named Desire, by Tennessee Williams

1203 words - 5 pages A Streetcar named Desire was written by Tennessee Williams, during the restless years following World War II. The play was based on the life of a woman named Blanche Dubois. Blanche was a fragile and neurotic woman, desperate for a place to call her own. She had been exiled from her hometown Laurel, Mississippi after seducing a seventeen year old boy. After this incident, she decided to move to New Orleans with her sister Stella. She claimed

A Streetcar Named Desire, by Tennessee Williams

2331 words - 9 pages A Streetcar Named Desire From the beginning, the three main characters of Streetcar are in a state of tension. Williams establishes that the apartment is small and confining, the weather is hot and oppressive, and the characters have good reason to come into conflict. The South, old and new, is an important theme of the play. Blanche and her sister come from a dying world. The life and pretensions of their world are becoming a thing of

A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

1566 words - 6 pages In Tennessee Williams’ 1947 play, “A Streetcar Named Desire,” Stella and Stanley Kowalski live in the heart of poor, urban New Orleans in a one-story flat very different from the prestigious home Stella came from. This prestige is alive and well inside Stella’s lady-like sister, Blanche Du Bois. Over the course of Blanche’s life, she has experienced many tragedies that deeply affected her, such as the death of her gay husband, the downward

"A Streetcar Named Desire" by Tennessee Williams

2176 words - 9 pages successfully introduces the characters as individuals giving the audience a rough insight into their personalities that lay a foundation and explanation of what is to come in the play. In conclusion the exposition of A Streetcar Named Desire, we gather that Tennessee is successful in incorporating imagery, music and set designs which help in setting the foundation of the main themes of the play. He particularly pays detail to the theme of tension between Blanche and Stanley whom represent old and new America.

A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

701 words - 3 pages Adversity can cause an individual to overcome their challenges and strengthen their identity, however, it can also have the opposite negative effect. Adversity can trigger an individual to lose their identity in their attempt to escape from their problems. In the play, A Streetcar Named Desire, by Tennessee Williams, Blanche DuBois is unable to face adversity, which leads her to lose her individual identity during her attempt to escape reality

A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

1691 words - 7 pages A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams MITCH: Lies, lies, inside and out, all lies. Referring to the two critical opinions, explore the extent to which the relationship between Mitch and Blanche is based on deception and self deception. Throughout Williams' play an unexpected relationship is developing before us. This is the one formed between Mitch and Blanche. Two very different characters who would appear to have nothing in

Ethical Lessons in A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

1488 words - 6 pages A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams is a play about a woman named Blanche Dubois who is in misplaced circumstances. Her life is lived through fantasies, the remembrance of her lost husband and the resentment that she feels for her brother-in-law, Stanley Kowalski. Various moral and ethical lessons arise in this play such as: Lying ultimately gets you nowhere, Abuse is never good, Treat people how you want to be treated, Stay true to

Destiny in A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

1016 words - 5 pages Named Desire. Blanche Dubois suffered from a lack of financial security, and a tarnished reputation that continued to befall her. Nonetheless, her resourcefulness never faltered. Blanche’s life is impacted by several significant events which ultimately alters the course of her destiny. Through Blanche, Tennessee Williams develops the idea that we are all faced with challenges that impact our lives, but in the end, it’s how we deal with those

Similar Essays

Symbolism In A Streetcar Named Desire By Tennessee Williams

1259 words - 5 pages Symbolism in A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams “Symbols are nothing but the natural speech of drama…the purest language of plays.” Once, quoted as having said this, Tennessee Williams has certainly used symbolism and colour extremely effectively in his play, ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’. A moving story about fading Southern belle Blanche DuBois and her lapse into insanity, ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ contains much symbolism and

Tennessee Williams' Use Of Symbolism In A Streetcar Named Desire

1894 words - 8 pages Tennessee Williams' Use of Symbolism in A Streetcar Named Desire Many playwrights use the technique of symbolism in their plays because it adds to the dramatic impact and allows the playwright to give the audience a deeper understanding of the play on a different level; this makes the play more interesting. Symbolism can be used to add tension to a scene, to foreshadow certain events in a play or even to give us a

A Streetcar Named Desire By Tennessee Williams 1356 Words

1356 words - 5 pages Dramatic Mode in A Streetcar Named Desire." Modern Critical Views Tennessee Williams. By Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House, 1987. 9-11. Print. McLeod, Saul. "Id Ego and Superego." Simply Psychology. Simply Psychology, 2008. Web. 26 Jan. 2014. O'Connor, Jacqueline. "Babbling Lunatics: Language and Madness." Bloom's Modern Critical Views: Tennessee Williams. By Harold Bloom. New York: Infobase, 2007. 11-26. Print. Riddel, Joseph N. "A Streetcar

"A Street Car Named Desire" By Tennessee Williams

2513 words - 10 pages In A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams uses the combined effects of lighting, sound, costume and symbolism to influence and control the audience's response. The play is intentionally an emotive one. It evokes an emotional response from the audience that is not necessarily reasoned or logical. The response to Streetcar is generally a uniformed one. As emotional as it is, by the end of the play most of the audience feels the same way