"Streetcar Named Desire" Scenes 1-5


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"Streetcar Named Desire" Scenes 1-5

  1. 1. Blanche
  2. 2.  Blanche : frivolous, hysterical, insensitiv e and self-obsessed individual who derides her sister‟s lesser social status has a craving for drink and attempts to disguise her drinking – dishonest “Moth” attracted to light – desires glamour. Destructive – light kills moths. Will her desire for life and glamour lead to
  3. 3.  She is aware of social distinctions; looks down on those she considers her inferiors - Eunice and the neighbour – expects them to behave a certain way toward a “lady.” Her attitude towards these women foreshadows her criticism of Stella and Stanley‟s way of life.
  4. 4.  She is vain and needs flattery. Afraid of growing old and losing her looks; relies on flattery to banish these terrors – fantasy and denial. Vulnerable, yet she is very much the older sister, treating Stella as a child and expecting her to run errands.
  5. 5. • Stanley is the new American in the new America• He is an immigrant who believes he can achieve the American Dream
  6. 6.  Stanley makes an impact The description contained within the stage direction “gaudy seed-bearer” conveys his sexual magnetism and his masculinity His entrance with the package of meat symbolises his primitive qualities as it is if he were bringing it back to his cave fresh from the kill
  7. 7.  Stanley‟s cocky interactions with Blanche show him to be insensitive - he barely lets Blanche get a word in as he quickly assesses her beauty Yet, he is unpretentious and has a zest for life (more sympathetic than the snobby Blanche?) An intense sexual bond with Stella
  8. 8.  New Orleans - cosmopolitan city where all races mingle freely – the New America, represented by the character of Stanley (a mix, not elitist) Refinement mixed with the grit of poverty and modern life; decay and corruption alongside the regenerative powers of desire and procreation.
  9. 9.  Elysian Fields - in Greek mythology, the equivalent of paradise or the home of the blessed dead (the heroes) Irony - Stanley is clearly at home in Elysian Fields, but the Kowalskis‟ home and neighbourhood are not Blanche‟s idea of heaven
  10. 10. A streetcar named „desire‟ takes Blanche to „Elysian Fields‟(the afterlife, or heaven) Does Blanche “desire” death?
  11. 11.  Windows and door of the apartment are left open - Stanley and the others leave everything out in the open. Belle Reve translates as “beautiful dream”. Appropriate since the “dream” is now all that remains of it.
  12. 12. Stage directions contrast with the uneducated language used by most of the characters on the stage (except Blanche and Stella) Blanche‟s quotation from Poe‟s poem reminds us that she is an English teacher
  13. 13.  Blanche:  white clothes - virginal connotations (irony)  constant drinking symbolises her inability to cope with reality and her desire to forget the past  aristocratic and sensitive - symbolises the old South  hearing the Polka - thinking about her dead husband  obsession with her appearance - inability to cope with reality
  14. 14.  Stanley:  animal sexuality is symbolised by numerous stage directions  butcher‟s package - blood, danger, violence and his primitive qualities  brash, loud and arrogant - symbolic of the New South
  15. 15.  Blanche – critical of poor conditions Stella lives in; disapproves of Stanley Belle Reve has been lost – sentimental Blanche stayed in the South; Stella abandoned it (moving on) Blanche, though just as poor as Stanley and Stella, looks down on them with pretentiousness (tension)
  16. 16.  Desire is central to the play. Blanche is unable to come to terms with her desire. She is repelled and fascinated by Stanley at the same time (partly jealous of Stella‟s escape from the South) Obsessed with the idea of Stella sleeping with her "Polack." Stella has chosen a life built around her sexual relationship with Stanley.
  17. 17.  Stanley is comfortable with desire and satisfying his physical needs. Sex is part of what makes him tick. He appraises women based on their physical looks (sex objects)
  18. 18.  The play is haunted by mortality. Desire and death and loneliness all combine.  Decay in setting - the dying Old South and the dying DuBois family  Blanches first monologue is a graphic description of tending to the terminally ill.  The specter of Blanches husband, who died when they were both very young; Blanch still refers to him as a "boy."  Rot underneath the surface – Blanche (mental and moral)
  19. 19. Scene TwoConflicts Introduced:- Stanley’s jealousy and suspicion- Blanche’s ignorance of the effect her behaviour has on people
  20. 20. Blanche• Compassion for Blanche: –Destitution –All her belongings equal a trunk full of cheap dresses, fake furs and costume jewelry
  21. 21. Baths• Blanche needs baths to “calm her nerves”• Symbolizes her need for spiritual, mental and emotional cleansing• She feels “dirty” or “soiled” in some way
  22. 22. • This habit is irritating to others – tension• Foreshadows the revelation of her sordid past – impurity• Wants to start clean; get rid of social blemishes and her previous
  23. 23. The red bathrobe• Flirting and provocative• Arouses Stanley’s suspicions (and something else)• More a prostitute than aknow that you teacher “If I didn’t school were my wife’s sister I’d get ideas about you!”
  24. 24. Stanley• Becomes suspicious of Blanche• Hostility due to his awareness of the class differences between himself and Blanche (and by extension Stella)• Wants to pull Blanche down to his level
  25. 25. • Thinks Blanche has cheated him and Stella out of $$• Thinks she spent it on herself• Not aware that Blanche’s costume jewelry is fake• Feels insecure when Stella
  26. 26. Napoleonic Code References – forbids privileges based on birth• Show Stanley’s ignorance• Belle Reve, in Mississippi, would not fall under New Orleans law• Gender showdown – Stanley feels that as a man, whatever Stella has belongs to him• Hates that Blanche is a woman with a higher social status than him – must bring her down
  27. 27. Symbolism• Red robe – the scarlet woman of the Bible (Revelations 17)• “The blind are leading the blind” (Matthew 15:14) – impending disaster• Stella tells Stanley how to treat Blanche – ashamed at her husband’s behavior• The baby – unites the Kowalskis but isolates Blanche• Blanche’s trunk – a façade, fantasy of riches
  28. 28. Symbolism of letters• Business papers = reality (Stanley handles them)• Love letters = fantasy (Blanche handles them) – maintains her illusions of the past.
  29. 29. The Poker Scene
  30. 30. Scene 3 – Pivotal Scene• Cements Stanley’s role as the villain• Highlights the primal nature of Stanley and Stella’s relationship• Stanley dominates over his friends, making all the decisions• Tenderness of friends – look after the drunk Stanley• Stella chooses Stanley over Blanche
  31. 31. Blanche• Her vanity makes her lie about Stella’s age• Her inability to deal with reality makes her say that she’s come to help Stella• Her lies are NOT malicious; she lies to protect herself
  32. 32. • Seductive posturing when men are around – flirts instinctively• She’s half undressed in the gap• Contradiction: – genteel lady: expects men to stand up when she comes in; can’t stand a rude remark or vulgar action – cheap seductress
  33. 33. Chinese Lantern • Blanche puts the lantern over the harsh light bulb – symbolic of her inability to face reality • Light threatens to reveal her lies • Chinese lanterns have a softer light, more fantastical
  34. 34. Stanley• Stanley is loud and domineering; wears loud shirts – emphasizes his manliness• Stanley throwing down the watermelon emphasizes his disregard for the house and Stella – FORESHADOW VIOLENCE• Stanley drinking – destructive behavior (domestic violence)
  35. 35. • Shower symbolizes his attempt to wash his sins away (hitting Stella)
  36. 36. Stella and Stanley• Stella and Stanley’s reunion conveys their desire for one another• Stella’s desire for Stanley is so great she is willing to forgive anything• Their “animal-like” moans when they embrace on stairs = “animal-like” passion
  37. 37. There is a sense ofKing Kong, or abrute, about Stanleywhen he carriesStella away -Primitive
  38. 38. • Even though Stanley is abusive, something about Stanley excites Stella when he is at his most beast-like.• Their making-up is completely wordless: no plea for forgiveness, no promise of better behavior.• They make up by coupling like animals. The bond between Stanley and Stella is not intellectual, but physical.
  39. 39. Blanche and Mitch• Mitch is the opposite of Stanley: kind, understanding, shy, sympathetic• Their conversation shows their class differences – Mitch is trying to overcome the gap• Description of dancing symbolizes that they are ill suited for one another: “Mitch dances clumsily, mimicking Blanche’s grand movements.
  40. 40. Scene 4Turning Point:• Stanley overhears Blanche’s opinion of himself• Will not rest until he has destroyed and disposed of her
  41. 41. Streetcar Metaphor • There is no turning back for Blanche • Headed for disaster
  42. 42. Blanche• Blanche tells Stella that sheer desire is no basis for a marriage. The streetcar “that bangs through the Quarter, up one old narrow street and down another” is what she believes Stella feels• Blanche fails to understand Stella’s passionate relationship with her husband. It seems that with all her sexual experience she has never experienced true love.
  43. 43. “{The streetcar} brought me here, where I’m notwanted and where I’m ashamed to be……”• Literally, Blanche arrived on a streetcar named “Desire”• Metaphorically, Blanche’s search for sexual desire led to her expulsion from Laurel; her family’s need to shroud desire and cover up “epic fornications” led to the break-up of the Belle Reve estate and impoverishment
  44. 44. • Blanche is a cold cynic• Doesn’t believe in love• Laughs at Stella’s attraction and affection for her husband• Uses money and men – calculating and selfish
  45. 45. • One of Blanche’s most famous speeches: “There’s even something – sub-human - something not quite to the stage of humanity,” meaning: Stanley is too much of a beast for the evolved Stella.
  46. 46. Stella “I’m not in anything I have a desire to get out of”• Lost patience with Blanche’s hysterics; becomes ironic• The difference in the sisters’ attitudes to passion shows that despite their common background and social values, they are very different characters
  47. 47. Scene 5• A threatening undertone runs throughout this scene• Opens with a violent row between Eunice and Steve
  48. 48. Blanche• Fear of truth: her telegram to Shep (all lies)• Past catches up with her (Stanley has investigated): – Nights at a hotel of ill repute with men – Sought comfort in men, physically – Stained purity, just like her stained white dress – Less healthy desire than the marriage?
  49. 49. Blanche and the Young Man• Emphasizes Blanche’s loneliness and inappropriate desire – desperate and destructive• Wants to marry Mitch, but risks her future to flirt with a boy• Can she settle down with one man? Is that why she is jealous of Stella?
  50. 50. • Hypocrite: She condemns Stanley and Stella’s sexual relationship, but she is prepared to engage in a inappropriate sexual encounter with a young boy. Her behavior with him makes Stanley and Stella’s relationship appear almost normal
  51. 51. Astrology• Ironically, Blanche’s sign is “Virgo,” the virgin – Does she want to reclaim her virginity, spiritually and emotionally? A new life• Stanley’s sign is Capricorn – ‘the ram’ – goats are supposed to be promiscuous and stubborn. He is both. – Capricorn and Virgo are opposites – they either conflict or…opposites attract?
  52. 52. Stella• Also escapes to fantasies: –Stops listening whenever Blanche is morbid –Puts up with an abusive husband –Reads comics - childlike