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Thesis Ideas for "A Streetcar Named Desire"

The Symbolism and Imagery in

The Symbolism and Imagery in "London" by William Blake

Death, sexuality, delusion and societal expectations create a dynamic rife with tension and power transfers in "A Streetcar Named Desire." Tennessee Williams' play tells the story of Blanche DuBois, an intelligent, fragile woman who moves in with her sister Stella and brother-in-law Stanley Kowalski after being expelled from her own community. Due to Williams' literary expertise and the bulk of existing scholarship the play inspired, it would be an excellent subject for a thesis in English or theater.

Power and Mental Illness

Blanche becomes gradually more immersed in her fantasy world as the play progresses, eventually claiming that her millionaire lover will whisk her away from New Orleans. Her circumstances exacerbate the condition, as it peaks in the aftermath of her rape by Stanley. Her brother-in-law exerts his authority by institutionalizing her, though as a rapist and abuser he is hardly the picture of mental health. A thesis on this topic would explore the ways in which Williams depicts the interplay of authority and delusion, specifically with regard to Blanche and Stanley.

A Place of Her Own

Blanche and Stella come from a wealthy family, and Blanche is deteriorating in part because she has lost so much of her status along with her ancestral property. Her sense of being displaced and dependent haunt her throughout the play; she is even willing to settle for the somewhat foolish Mitch to secure a home of her own. Conversely, Stella ran away from their home and seems unaffected by its loss, whereas the blue-collar characters who populate the play were born with no expectation of property. A thesis regarding the senses of place and status would explore the economic and immigration history of the postbellum South, as well as the psychology of ownership and belonging.

Diverting From the Norm

By Blanche's account, she found her husband Allan Grey in the embrace of another man, then later expressed disgust at a party. Grey committed suicide to spare himself further humiliation, whereas his young widow was left distraught with guilt, her innocence destroyed. Like Grey, Blanche would endure social stigma. In her case, she was turned away from an apartment for her numerous sexual liaisons and fired from a teaching post due to an affair with a student. "Streetcar" provides an abundance of material for a thesis regarding human sexuality, including Blanche's history as well as the somewhat primitive carnality expressed by Stanley and Stella.

The Pervasiveness of Death

Blanche arrives at Stella and Stanley's home in the Elysian Fields by riding two streetcars, one named "Desire" and one named "Cemeteries." Other references to death include a woman selling flowers for the Day of the Dead, the death of Allan Grey and Blanche's discussion of funerals. Some scholars believe these serve as harbingers of Blanche's death, but they may also indicate her spiritual death, as she is alive at the play's close. A thesis on this topic would explore these symbols and any relevant scholarship associated with them.

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  • Tennessee Williams: A Streetcar Named Desire; Philip K. Kolin
  • Theater Journal: Authorizing History -- Victimization in a Streetcar Named Desire

Since 2003, Momi Awana's writing has been featured in "The Hawaii Independent," "Tradewinds" and "Eternal Portraits." She served as a communications specialist at the Hawaii State Legislature and currently teaches writing classes at her library. Awana holds a Master of Arts in English from University of Hawaii, Mānoa.

A Streetcar Named Desire Essay

Introduction, thesis statement:, similarities: body, differences: mental strength, works cited.

Tennessee Williams establishes the interrelationship of Blanche Dubois and Stella Kowalski flawlessly as polar opposites. While it can be assumed that Stella and Blanche share certain similar character features, which are common for their gender, they come from completely different walks of life, have been born and raised in completely different environment and disposed to strikingly different factors and obstacles. As a result, the two women are the exact opposite of each other.

Blanche Dubois and Stella Kowalski have fewer similarities than differences in terms of character, e.g. they both depend on their sexuality and depend on men around them, but the two women differ in their attitude towards reality, their ability to adjust to circumstances, their capacity to remain strong, and Tennessee Williams’ play, simply illustrates these features.

Blanche and Stella are less similar than most we know. Blanche and Stella mainly share emotions such as sexual needs and urges, as well as their attraction to men.

It would be wrong to assume that Stella and Blanche have no common points of contact; however, when it comes to defining the latter, one must admit that they are mostly restricted to the area of physiology. Indeed, as women, Stella and Blanche have similar urges that are predisposed by their biological nature. Consequently, some of their behavioural specifics stem from the fact of their being women. The aspects of sexuality, as well as Blanche and Stella’s gender roles, are strongly dependent on their gender, which the play shows clearly.

Both women often yield to sexual temptations and enjoy their sexuality, though Blanche is forced to change her attitude towards physical pleasures.

There is no need to stress that both Blanche and Stella are yearning for physical pleasures and do not conceal the fact that they need physical contact with men. However, differences crawl even in this aspect of the characters’ lives. Stella being more stable and preferring long-term relationships to something more flighty, Blanche seems very light-headed to say the least. Her constant change of life partners in search for the one who will appreciate her is truly heartbreaking: “Deliberate cruelty is unforgivable” (Tennessee 175).

It seems that Blanche, unlike Stella, is looking for something more than just physical pleasure – she is in an unceasing search for safety and love instead of violence and lust, which she hopes to find in the arms of her next partner: “Physical beauty is passing – a transitory possession – but beauty of the mind, richness of the spirit, tenderness of the heart – I have all these things – aren’t taken away but grow!”(Tennessee 156).

Blanche and Stella have been dependant on men around them, e.g. Blanche strives for men’s attention (her husband, students, suitors) and Stella continues rather complicated relationship based on sexual chemistry

As it follows from Blanche and Stella’s background described above, they are used to depend on men in equal proportions, although the given dependency manifests itself in different ways in the two women. Unlike Blanche, though, Stella clearly strives for something more than being noticed and appreciated solely for her beauty.

Having defined her goal in life as a wife and a mother, Stella wants to be appreciated for what she gives to people. As a result, Stella tends to build long-term relationships with people rather than vanish without a trace after striking them with her beauty, as Blanche prefers to.

The given strategy makes Stella’s life much more predictable than Blanche’s one and, thus, less exciting in Blanche’s opinion. However, Stella definitely prefers being more confident about her relationships with the rest of the world in general and men in particular. In other words, Stella already knows what she needs and, more importantly, she knows how she can pay for what she wants, i.e., getting into a relationship that she can enjoy: “I know I fib a good deal” (Tennessee 41).

However, she also claims to be pure in that she has never betrayed her husband: “After all, a woman’s charm is fifty per cent illusion, but when a thing is important I tell the truth, and this is the truth: I haven’t cheated my sister or you or anyone else as long as I have lived” (Tennessee 41). Meanwhile, Blanche is in perpetual search for a big romantic feeling that she has never experienced yet which she hopes to experience someday, unable to understand that she also has to give something in return.

As it has been stressed above, the two women are strikingly different; apart from gender, they have little to no features in common, and it shows incredibly in the setting of the suburbs of a small town, with people like Stanley Kowalski and at the time like the mid-forties.

Blanche is mentally weak and incapable of properly addressing issues, while Stella manages to remain strong and make sound judgments about major decisions

On the one hand, Stella seems much less driven and self-assured than Blanche; coming from a much more humble background and leading the life in which the is given the role of a humble wife of Stanley Kowalski and the keeper of the house, she might be considered the weak type.

Stella clearly has less room to evolve as a person and as an individual, with her husband taking the leading part and being the key decision-maker in the family. However, when it comes to comparing the two women, one must admit that Stella is much more down-to-earth and, therefore, more objective in her judgments than romantic and dreamy Blanche: “I don’t want realism. I want magic! Yes, yes, magic! […]. And it that’s sinful, then let me be damned for it” (Tennessee 144).

A mentally stronger person, Stella is capable of surviving in the world that she and her husband live in – and, more to the point, sacrificing the truth to preserve that world, even at the cost of Blanche’s sanity: “I couldn’t believe her story and go on living with Stanley” (Tennessee 165).

Stella is able to live her life and develop proper relationships with the community she lives in, though she has problems with her husband, whereas Blanche is unable to adjust to changing circumstances and chooses to flee rather than try to fix everything

Apart from having a clear idea about her life purpose, though the latter might seem rather simplistic, Stella is also very down-to-the-ground, which helps her survive in a much harsher environment than Blanche is used to live in. The objective approach helps Stella put up with her husband’s violence and ignorance.

With a specific idea of her purpose in life and the feeling that she is working on fulfilling that purpose, Stella can deal with the harsh environment and even find the ways to enjoy her life, while Blanche is clearly shocked by the new rules and new lifestyle.

Blanche tries to change the world around her instead of getting used to it, which begs the question whether she is as meek as she seems to be. After all, taking actions is what a strong person would do. Therefore, it is rather Blanche’s naivety and straightforwardness together with the inability to keep her thoughts to herself that gets her in trouble.

Stella is always critical and realistic while Blanche lives in the world of her illusions

When comparing Stella to Blanche, one might think of a much more simple and unsophisticated character – and, in a way, such manner of describing Stella will be correct. Stella is simpler, since she leads a much simpler and less glamorous life, which is focused on her husband and the ways to keep him satisfied.

Nevertheless, as it has been stressed above, Stella appears to be more cunning and faking than Blanche. The latter obviously wears her heart on her sleeve, stating whatever she thinks is right – and inevitably getting hurt by crude Stanley, who wants to see women subdued to him: “There he is –Stanley Kowalski – survivor of the stone age! Bearing the raw meat home from the kill in the jungle! And you – you here – waiting for him!” (Tennessee 83).

Stella, on the contrary, uses a much more sophisticated strategy, which allows her to both abstain from conflicting with her husband and retain her point of view: “Don’t be such an idiot, Stanley!” (Tennessee 34).

Ironically enough, Stella does not need the latter, being up to her nose in the household issues; however, such attitude helps her retain her sanity within the coarse environment. Stella can also be considered much more critical than Blanche. The latter is incredibly romantic, while Stella always keeps her feet on the ground.

Blanche covers her negative and harmful thoughts by attempting to act politely while Stella shows her true welcoming and she is really innocent

As it has been made clear above, it would be wrong to consider Blanche a weak person in the full meaning of the word. She is not weak by default; much like Stella, she has a lot of strength that comes from within, i.e., from her vision of the world and concept of herself: “He was a boy, just a boy, when I was a very young girl” (Tennessee 114).

The fact that Blanche is not going to survive in the new environment becomes obvious when she fails to find a common language with the new people surrounding her. By far the most striking example of Blanche’s failure is every single scene of her talking to Stanley, whose rude and straightforward speech appears the exact opposite of Blanche’s careful tiptoeing around her opponent: “You’re simple, straightforward and honest, a little bit on the primitive side, I should think” (Tennessee 39).

Therefore, Blanche’s weakness as the key difference from Stella comes from Blanche’s unwillingness to learn and to part with her illusions; after seeing how low people can fall and how mundane and meagre their lives can get, she refuses to accept the new style of life and, therefore, becomes highly vulnerable to the objective reality, which Stella has grown immune to long before.

Blanche Dubois and Stella Kowalski have some minor similarities as they both depend on their sexuality and men around them but they are eventually completely different since Stella is strong and able to address issues while Blanche is mentally weak and lives in the world of her illusions. Weirdly enough, Stella, the woman who has been living her entire life in the suburbs, seems to know more about life and its merciless rules more than Blanche, the woman of the fashion and the city elite.

Tennessee, Williams. A Streetcar Named Desire . New York, NY: New Directions Publishing Corporation. 2004. Web.

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thesis statement for a streetcar named desire

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Creating Connections to Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire

Introduction.

When I first read A Streetcar Named Desire as a senior in high school, there were so many elements that were beyond my understanding as a young reader; the part that I found most perplexing was the ending, with Stella sending Blanche away to a mental institution.  My junior- and senior-level students generally have a “family-first” mentality, and when I teach the play for the first time, I anticipate that they will have difficulty coming to terms with Stella’s decision because it entails choosing legal family over a blood relative.  Because this drama is such a rich representation of literature, there are many reading guides available to help students make meaning of the text; much of the literary criticism focuses on Tennessee Williams’ representation of women, portraying them as victims in this play.  I would like my students, however, to examine it through the lens of a cultural studies theorist with an emphasis on the historical context of the work.  I also will have my students use their prior knowledge of Anton Chekhov’s writing as one avenue into an unconventional analysis of Williams’ play.  Given all of the background information as well as detailed study of the text, the question I plan to pose to my students in order to analyze Stella’s decision to send Blanche away is:  In what ways is Stella’s sending Blanche away (but calling after her) representative of the time period?  If Williams’ play makes social commentary on post-war American values, my students can determine the commentary by using evidence from the text.

School Profile

Back of the Yards College Preparatory High School is a neighborhood high school located on the southwest side of Chicago.  It is an International Baccalaureate (IB) world school; students must apply to the school for admission.  Application requirements for the IB Diploma Programme (DP) preparation track include a minimum percentile of 24 in both reading and math on the Northwest Evaluation Association Measures of Academic Progress (NWEA MAP) and a minimum 2.5 GPA in 7th grade.  Individualized Education Program (IEP) and English-Language Learner (ELL) students must have a minimum combined percentile of 48 in reading and math on NWEA MAP and minimum 2.5 GPA in 7th grade.  There are no minimum requirements for students who apply to the IB “Middle Years Programme (MYP) for All” track, but priority is given to students from the six neighboring elementary schools:  Chavez, Daley, Hamline, Hedges, Lara, and Seward.  A small percentage of seats is available for students attending other neighborhood elementary schools through a computerized lottery each year. 1 The school’s racial and ethnic demographics are comprised of 98.6% minority students: 89.3% of students are Hispanic; 5.7% of students are Asian; 3.3% are Black; 1.4% are White; and 0.2% identify as “Other.”  Low-income students comprise 96.7% of the population.  Students who have been identified as Diverse Learners form 8.6% of the student body.  “Limited English” students make up 9.7% of the student body.  The school’s student mobility rate is 6.1%. 2 Once students have completed the 9 th and 10 th grades, they may apply for admission to either the IB DP or the IB Career Program (CP) or enroll in individual Advanced Placement (AP) classes of their choice for their 11 th - and 12 th -grade years of study.  The school is a new facility, and this year is an especially important year as we enter our fourth year of serving students; this year’s seniors will be our first graduates! 

Course Profile

This curriculum unit has been developed as the first of four related units that will be studied and taught after Thanksgiving break through spring break; this time period consists of just over fifteen weeks in our school calendar, or 65 instructional hours.  The course is Year 2 of the two-year IB Language A:  Literature course, which is for students in the IB DP and CP, all of whom are 12 th -grade students; we will study Parts 2 and 3 of the IB Literature curriculum over the course of the year.  This unit falls under the Part 3, Literary Genres portion of the course, which is offered at Higher Level (at Higher Level, students engage in a two-year course of study with a minimum requirement of 240 hours of study for thirteen works over the two years).  Per the IB Language A:  Literature guide, Part 3 works must be selected from the IB Prescribed List of Authors (PLA) for the language studied (English), all from the same genre. 3   The four works in this part are all post-war dramas:  the work used for this curriculum unit, Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire (1947); Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman (1949); Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night (1956); and Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1962).  I plan to spend four weeks teaching A Streetcar Named Desire .

All of the students enrolled in this course will sit for the IB exams in May 2017.  These exams have incredibly high stakes for low-income students, all of whom have plans to attend four-year universities or to enroll in two-year city colleges and later transfer to four-year post-secondary institutions, and most of whom will be first-generation college students.  High marks on these exams often equate to college credit for the students, and when money is a factor in college persistence, not only do high marks serve as an indicator of success or excellence, they also have a price-tag attached for individual students.  For this reason, I do not want to discount the importance of preparing my students for the external assessment related to Part 3 of this course, Paper 2.  Paper 2 is a two-hour timed essay that comprises 25% of the weight for students’ Language A (English) mark toward the IB diploma or career certificate.  Some of the activities discussed in the teaching strategies below directly relate to preparation for Paper 2.

There are many reasons I selected A Streetcar Named Desire for study.  One obvious reason is that it is on a list of approved texts.  More importantly, however, I chose drama for this portion of the course because I love teaching plays, and I find that my enthusiasm helps to engage my students.  Additionally, many of my students have tested out of a bilingual education and ESL course of study (English is not their first language) or are bilingual; I find that once my students become familiar with the conventions of the genre, the sections that we loosely act out in class together as we discuss the author’s choices support added understanding in a way that might otherwise be patronizing to students who are nearing high-school graduation:  role play is expected with drama.  Even for students who have the strongest command of English, the multimodality of the study of drama correlates to the increasing multimodal literacy for which students are expected to demonstrate mastery. 

Beyond my choice to study drama for this part of the course, I chose this play specifically, A Streetcar Named Desire , for several reasons.  In the previous year, my students studied works by Anton Chekhov.  I selected those works at the same time that I selected this play; I am aware of Chekhov’s influence on Williams’ writing, and studying both authors will allow my students to create comparative analyses that will refine their existing skills.  I also chose this play because of its immediate and lasting critical acclaim but its changing critical reception, particularly with regard to social and cultural values, with the passage of time.  Finally, I picked this play because it provides students with the opportunity to create arguments from one of any number of literary lenses:  feminism, race, Marxism, psychology, and queer theories are just a few viewpoints from which students might criticize this text.  I would like to encourage my students to consider a hybrid of lenses and will present the cultural theorist’s lens as one such hybrid.

Analysis and Contextualization

Anton Chekhov, the famous Russian writer, influenced Tennessee Williams in a number of ways.  Perhaps most notably, there are several parallels between Chekhov’s play The Cherry Orchard and Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire .  Both plays contain themes of social class and a changing struggle between the classes.  More generally but with special relevance to the work studied in this unit, James Fisher wrote, “He [Williams] learned from the Russian author about creating melancholy, character-driven dramas that explore the intimacies of the psyche in subtle, highly symbolic ways.” 4   Chekhov changed the way characters were written; they were no longer romantic but modern, and the mark of this shift is the use of “characters’ mood or feeling to communicate their inner state….  Mood then becomes subjective, and we are brought into the lives of the character.” 5   Blanche is written to be perfectly imperfect—vain but insecure, conniving yet dependent—she is a realistic character with whom the audience might at once sympathize yet detest.  There is no doubt that the initial reviews of A Streetcar Named Desire underscored that Jessica Tandy, in the character of Blanche, was a driving force in the play:  “Blanche, neurotic and desperate…shattered daughter of the South…played by Jessica Tandy…compelling performance.  Her final crack-up is beautifully done” 6 and “Jessica Tandy, in the monumental role of Blanche, infallibly projects the two essential planes of the character…unrelenting hopelessness…desperate falseness.” 7 That success is a Chekhov-inspired feat that poses the question:  who is the main character?

The two characters who vie for that status are Stanley Kowalski and Blanche DuBois.  While most playbills herald Stanley Kowalski as the main character, the main character  arguably is not Stanley but Blanche.  Historically, the Labor Movement in the U.S. of the 1930s and 1940s would be fresh in the audience’s mind, but the struggle for power between Blanche and Stanley might also symbolize some original audience members’ thoughts about the fate of the iconic cultural phenomenon Rosie the Riveter once the men returned from the war:  women should retreat submissively to their domestic spheres.  Perhaps due to the shared setting of New Orleans or maybe because of the similar themes with regard to the representation of women, Blanche is often compared to Edna Pontellier from Kate Chopin’s The Awakening (1899).  Indeed, in his account of the Napoleonic Code and the Louisiana state Civil Code, George Fitzhugh’s Sociology for the South (1854) certainly rings true in the representations of the lives of Edna and of Blanche, 45 years and 93 years, respectively, after Fitzhugh’s work was published:

So long as she is nervous, fickle, capricious, delicate, diffident and dependent, man will worship and adore her.... In truth, woman, like children, has but one right, and that is the right to protection. The right to protection involves the obligation to obey. A husband, a lord and master, whom she should love, honor and obey, nature designed for every woman.... If she be obedient, she is in little danger of maltreatment; if she stands upon her rights, is coarse and masculine, man loathes and despises her, and ends by abusing her.... The men of the South take care of the women of the South.... The generous sentiments of slaveholders are sufficient guarantee of the rights of woman. 8

The Civil War, the Women’s Suffrage Movement, and the Civil Rights Movement all argue against this conception of “men of the South” so highly regarded by Fitzhugh and his peers.  Blanche is, at various times, each of the six adjectives outlined by Fitzhugh as the recipe for worship and adoration; however, Blanche is anything but worshipped or adored by the men featured in the play and by the minor characters in Blanche’s past who never take the stage:  Blanche’s husband Allan Grey, whose secret and active homosexuality lead him to commit suicide; Blanche’s former boyfriend, Shep Huntleigh, in whom Blanche creates a highly-fantasized, romantic hero who might rescue her from her crumbling life and relationships; Harold Mitchell (Mitch), who is courteous and kind but unwilling to accept Blanche’s sexual history; and Stanley Kowalski, who questions Blanche’s motives and veracity and ultimately rapes her, pushing Blanche over the line between sanity and insanity.  If Blanche can represent empowered women in that she is the sister who has been employed and earned a wage, albeit in a typically acceptable career for a woman, and in that she engages in sexually promiscuous behaviors, then her fate and that of other empowered women is clear:  retreat as Stella does to the safe domestic sphere or suffer the consequences.  In the argument of Blanche as the main character, the same argument about Rosie the Riveter holds:  men, not women, should be the center of attention in the workplace and in the domestic space.  

One would hope that a major shift between the original viewing audience and today’s audience would be how the Kowalskis’ marriage is viewed.  One of Life magazine’s photographs published immediately after the premiere of the play was captioned, “[The Kowalskis] can now resume their happiness, proving Williams’s thesis that healthy life can go on only after it is rid of unwholesome influence.” 9   Certainly the hope is that today’s audiences would not view the Kowalskis’ life and marriage, with their cycles of abuse, as “healthy life.”  This hope is supported by the audience’s response to the Benedick Andrews’ 2016 Off Broadway production of the play at the St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn.  Gillian Anderson, who played Blanche DuBois, said, “People leave in tears, bawling their eyes out; they can't leave their seat. They're completely racked.” 10   If the argument can be made that the “good ol’ days” never existed even as we nostalgically wish for them because, either by truth or perception, the present is undesirable, and if Blanche is a “relic…who [is] unable to accept the twentieth century and who prefer[s] living in the illusive and legendary world of something that never really was—the mythically cavalier Old South,” 11 then the argument can also be made that Tennessee Williams’ representation of Blanche’s wishes for the not-so-stellar bygone days shows how very little women’s roles and status had changed between the years leading up to and following World War II.  While we read a play about a main character who is immersed in an ever-disintegrating fantasy world and who even purports to reject realism in favor of magic, the work itself is upsetting when one considers the all-too-real social and cultural commentary: “ A Streetcar Named Desire … [is] a realistic play whose overall dramaturgy aims for representation of truth through referential codes of external reality.” 12   The observations that Williams makes about the domestic life of a post-war working-class couple are astutely realistic and brutally, unapologetically honest.  Cultural studies theorists consider a cultural phenomenon, such as a play, with regard to factors including social class and gender; students will be encouraged to explore how a post-war working-class couple redefines gender codes and to analyze by contrast the values represented in the Life magazine photograph caption and actress Gillian Anderson’s statements in order to identify shifts in cultural ideologies.

Teaching Strategies

In order to ensure that my students are capable of demonstrating perceptive knowledge and understanding of a work, we examine a great deal about the work itself as well as the author and the time period when it was written.  For this unit, students will need to create a variety of connections between the author, the text A Streetcar Named Desire , the audience or reader or viewer (depending upon the medium), and the world.  I will need to teach my students background information on World War II, particularly surrounding traditional women’s roles in the United States prior to the war and the changes in those roles during the war.  Students also will need to evaluate the dynamic nature of these changes in a post-war U.S., with special consideration paid to exploring multiple viewpoints on those changes.  Students will need background information about the French Quarter in New Orleans, a specific setting that is symbolic in several ways given the themes and characters presented in the drama.  Students will benefit from a short lesson about Williams’ life in order to highlight the representation of gender roles, sexuality and homosexuality, and characterization in the play.  Having previously studied a selection of short stories by Anton Chekhov in Year 1 of the course, my students will discuss the influence of Chekhov’s technique on Williams’ writing with regard to realism.  Finally, I will have my students explore the use of sound and language as dramatic devices in this play, which both contribute to Williams’ unique aspects of technique in this drama. 

Classroom Activities

The following activities could be used in combination with teaching the play.  There are eleven scenes in the play, and because they are all nearly equal in length, each individual scene could be covered in one 50-minute class period.  Additionally, to support student comprehension, some of the other days’ work in the unit should focus necessarily on questions about characterization, setting, and dramatic technique, among other topics.  Below, I have outlined four activities to support the teaching of the aforementioned subjects.  It is my hope that the “Who Are You?” and “Literary Sociogram” activities detailed below will help students to form a basis for argumentation that asserts one character as the stand-alone main character of the play.  Students must be able to demonstrate contextual understanding in order to demonstrate mastery.

Characterization

Who are you.

Assign one of the four central characters from the play (Stanley, Stella, Blanche, or Mitch) to each student.  Create a Google Sheet within your Google Classroom.  List each character’s name in the “A” column, skipping row 1.  Along row 1, starting with column “B,” enter the following questions (one per column):  cell B1—How is your character introduced into the play?; cell C1—What clues do the stage directions give about costume and physical appearance?; cell D1—What does your character do? How does she or he behave? Are his or her actions consistent?; cell E1—What do other characters say about him/her?; cell F1—What is your character’s position/state of mind at the start of the play?;  cell G1—In what ways does your character change during the drama?;  cell H1—How does your character end up?; cell I1—How does your character use language?; cell J1—What key themes and ideas are developed through your character?; and cell K1—What things are associated with your character (e.g. the blue piano and Stanley)? 13   Students will work together to populate these cells with information about each character.  Students can use this Google sheet, developing it over time organically as the characters themselves develop.  With regard to IB Paper 2, this activity will help students develop criteria A (knowledge and understanding of the play) and C (appreciation of the literary conventions of drama).

Literary Sociogram

In addition to analyzing characters using the activity above, students should also consider characters’ roles toward one another.  This consideration can happen very readily with the construction of a literary sociogram, a type of graphic organizer that shows relationships among characters in a text.  There are many ready-made templates available for free on the web if the teacher does not already have a template of his or her own.  This activity will help students develop their knowledge and understanding of the play (criterion A for IB Paper 2).

Staging the Set

While it is important for students to engage in lecture and discussion about the larger setting of New Orleans and the French Quarter, it is also imperative that students do not lose sight of the smaller settings of the Kowalski residence.  This activity invites students to consider an author’s unique choices with regard to settings in the genre of drama; it requires students to show appreciation of the literary conventions of the genre (criterion C for IB Paper 2).

Divide students into four groups, assigning each group one location within the play:  the bedroom; the kitchen; the outside of the house; and the street outside of the house. 14   Students should read the stage directions to gather first an idea of their assigned settings.  Students should explain the setting in as much detail as possible, citing the text.  Students should also incorporate any dialogue in which characters mention the setting; students should explain how the stage directions and dialogue influence visualization of the settings.  Students ultimately will share their thoughts through a visual representation such as a diorama.

Students will be encouraged to explore the motifs of Blanche’s baths, alcohol, and paper lanterns and light, among any other motifs that they themselves select.  Students can use the graphic organizer, “Analyzing Motifs and Recurring Images,” to guide their exploration of the topic. 15   While they are looking at these motifs, I will encourage students to consider the commentary that Williams might be making about gender through his use of them.

Reading List for Teachers

Adler, Thomas P.  A Streetcar Named Desire:  The Moth and the Lantern.   Boston:  Twayne Publishers, 1990.  This book is especially intriguing because Adler defends an original viewpoint, providing a strong argument that the main character of the play is not Stanley Kowalski but Blanche DuBois.

International Baccalaureate.  “Group 1 English A: Literature; English A: Language and Literature Specimen Papers (First Exams 2013).” Online Curriculum Centre .  Accessed July 19, 2016.  http://occ.ibo.org/ibis/occ/Utils/getFile2.cfm?source=/ibis/occ/home/subjectHome.cfm&filename=dp%2Fgr1%2Flanguage_a1_english%2Fd_1_a1eng_spp_1305_2_e%2Epdf.  Teachers will have to log into the IB Online Curriculum Centre (OCC) to download this resource for students.  This resource contains specimen Papers 1 and 2 and marking notes.  Teachers will need to guide students through this document or share excerpts from the document; it contains work for two different IB Language A courses (Language and Literature is one course, and Literature is another course unto itself) as well as prompts for Standard Level and Higher Level.  To simply matters, teachers can direct students to pages 11 and 16 of this resource since they contain the sample questions and marking notes specific to the genre of drama in order to avoid confusion between courses, course levels, and Papers 1 and 2.  This source is invaluable for IB teachers as we work toward preparing our students for the exams; it provides a true mentor text to share with students so that they will be familiar with the format of the exam and the criteria involved in marking the essays.

Mendelsohn, Daniel Adam.  “Victims on Broadway II.”  In How Beautiful It Is and How Easily It Can Be Broken , 41-52.  New York:  Harper, 2008.  This work is useful because Mendelsohn makes a compelling argument around how an actress must approach the role of Blanche as both monster and victim in order for Williams’ intent to be carried out effectively.

Price, Lindsay.  “Spotlight:  E-News from Theatrefolk—Issue 47—Analysis and Exercise—A Streetcar Named Desire.”  Theatrefolk .  Accessed July 19, 2016.  https://www.theatrefolk.com/spotlights/analysis-and-exercise-a-streetcar-named-desire.  This resource contains a wealth of material for teachers including questions and activities for classroom use.

Reading List for Students

sameera95.  “Compilation of Past IB Drama Questions for English SL & HL.”  IB Survival (forum).  April 6, 2014.  Accessed July 19, 2016.  http://www.ibsurvival.com/topic/28688-compilation-of-past-ib-drama-questions-for-english-sl-hl/.  Although this page is a forum entry on a message board, it contains over 40 drama-related prompts used in the past for Paper 2 exams.  Students can use this list to get a sense of the types of prompts found in Paper 2.

Williams, Tennessee. A Streetcar Named Desire . New York: New Directions, 2004.  This version is the one in my school’s inventory and which my students will use.  In case it might be helpful, the ISBN is 9780811216029.

Materials for Classroom Use

A Streetcar Named Desire .  Directed by Elia Kazan.  1951.  Burbank, CA:  Warner Home Video, 2002.  DVD.  This DVD is the original film version of the play starring Marlon Brando as Stanley, Kim Hunter as Stella, and Vivien Leigh as Blanche.

Weschler, Raymond.  “A Streetcar Named Desire.”  ESL Notes .  2004.  Accessed July 19, 2016.  http://www.eslnotes.com/movies/pdf/a-streetcar-named-desire.pdf.  This resource contains language direction for students who need vocabulary support; it is intended by the author to be used in conjunction with the 1951 film listed above.

Because they will be most widely applicable to teachers from various parts of the United States, I have listed below the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) that are directly addressed in this unit; Illinois teachers also must align our curricula to the CCSS.  Due to the nature of this course as an IB course and because it may be helpful for other teachers of IB Language A:  Literature, I also have included the Group 1 and Language A:  Literature Aims as well as assessment objectives as they are applied in this unit.

Common Core State Standards

Key ideas and details.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.11-12.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text;

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.11-12.2 Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account;

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.11-12.3 Analyze the impact of the author's choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a drama (e.g., where a story is set). 16

Craft and Structure 

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.11-12.5 Analyze how an author's choices concerning how to structure specific parts of a text (e.g., the choice of where to begin or end a story, the choice to provide a comedic or tragic resolution) contribute to its overall structure and meaning as well as its aesthetic impact;

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.11-12.4 Analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone. 17  

Students will use textual evidence to support their analyses (11-12.1) of the presentation of the theme of female subjugation (11-12.2) and Williams’ characterization through mood (11-12.3, 4, 5).

IB Learning Outcomes

Group 1 aim.

Develop in students the ability to engage in close, detailed analysis of individual texts and make relevant connections. 18

Students will draw upon prior study of characterization in Anton Chekhov’s short stories to analyze and make connections to Williams’ characterization in the play.

Language A:  Literature Aim

Develop the students’ ability to form independent literary judgments and to support those ideas. 19

Students will be required to make literary judgments about the play and its reception, using textual evidence for support.

Interdisciplinary Connections to Theory of Knowledge (ToK) Course

What knowledge of literature can be gained by focusing attention on its social, cultural or historical context?

Does familiarity with literature itself provide knowledge and, if so, of what kind—knowledge of facts, of the author, of the conventions of the form or tradition, of psychology or cultural history, of oneself?

What is the proper function of literature—to capture a perception of reality, to teach or uplift the mind, to express emotion, to create beauty, to bind a community together, to praise a spiritual power, to provoke reflection or to promote social change? 20

Due to the study of the play through the lens of cultural theorist, students must be able to comment on its cultural context in order to determine how it provides the reader with both cultural history and provokes the reader to promote social change.

Assessment Objectives and Use in Practice of Paper 2

Knowledge and Understanding:  show understanding of the two or more works studied in Part 3 and the way in which meaning is conveyed through literary conventions.

Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation:  synthesize ideas from at least two works studied in Part 3 and apply that knowledge to a question on conventions used in one literary genre (drama).

Selection and Use of Appropriate Presentation and Language Skills:  write a formal essay comparing at least two works in response to one question. 21

Ultimately, students will write an essay to compare how social and cultural values are conveyed in two of the four Part 3 works (all post-war dramas).

Bibliography

Chicago Public Schools. “Admissions: Back of the Yards HS.” Find a School. Accessed July 19, 2016. http://www.cps.edu/Schools/Find_a_school/Pages/findaschool.aspx.  This webpage explains the criteria by which students are admitted to Back of the Yards College Preparatory High School.

Chicago Public Schools. “Overview: Back of the Yards HS.” Find a School. Accessed July 19, 2016. http://www.cps.edu/Schools/Find_a_school/Pages/findaschool.aspx.  This webpage provides the demographics of Back of the Yards College Preparatory High School.

Common Core State Standards Initiative. “Reading: Literature » Grade 11-12.” English Language Arts Standards . Accessed July 19, 2016. http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/RL/11-12/.  The Common Core State Standards for grades 11 and 12 were used in the writing of this unit because the intended audience is a group of 12 th -grade students.

“A Conversation about ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ with Actors Gillian Anderson, Ben Foster, and Vanessa Kirby.” By Charlie Rose. May 24, 2016.  Accessed July 19, 2016. https://charlierose.com/videos/28110.  This interview with the main actors in a recent production of the play highlights for students how much values have changed since the play’s premiere.

Fisher, James. “Chekhov, Anton (1860-1904).” In The Tennessee Williams Encyclopedia , edited by Philip C. Kolin, 37-38. Westport, CT:  Greenwood Press, 2004.  This section provides evidence that Chekhov influenced Williams’ writing.

Grene, Nicholas. “Chapter 5: A Streetcar Named Desire :  See-Through Representation.” In Home on the Stage , 104-126. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.  This chapter contains photos and captions from the premiere; the captions in particular provide a stark contrast in values to those highlighted in the Charlie Rose interview above.

Grudzina, Douglas, ed. “Formalist Activity Three:  Analyzing Motifs and Recurring Images.”  In Teaching Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire from Multiple Critical Perspectives , 31-33. Clayton, DE:  Prestwick House, 2009. Accessed July 19, 2016. http://www.wsd3.org/cms/lib010/CO01900798/Centricity/Domain/479/streetcar_named_desire_mcp.pdf.  This teacher’s guide contains multiple activities that can be modified for classroom use.

Hawkins, William. “ A Streetcar Named Desire from the New York World-Telegram .” In Critical Essays on Tennessee Williams , edited by Robert A. Martin, 27-28. New York:  G. K. Hall & Co., 1997.  This chapter contains a review of the premiere.

International Baccalaureate. Diploma Programme Language A: Literature Guide First Examinations 2013 . Cardiff, Wales: International Baccalaureate Organization, 2011.  This guide is important to IB teachers for shaping activities to allow students to practice for IB assessments.

Jones, Robert Emmet. “Tennessee Williams’ Early Heroines.” In Two Modern American Tragedies:  Review and Criticism of Death of a Salesman and A Streetcar Named Desire, Edited by John D. Hurrell. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1961.  This section presents Blanche as a heroine rather than a villain or a victim.

Morehouse, Ward. “ A Streetcar Named Desire from the New York Sun .” In Critical Essays on Tennessee Williams , edited by Robert A. Martin, 25-26. New York: G. K. Hall & Co., 1997.  This section contains a review of the premiere.

Saddik, Annette J. The Politics of Reputation: The Critical Reception of Tennessee Williams’ Later Plays . Cranbury, NJ: Associated University Presses, 1999.  This book contains social and cultural commentary on A Streetcar Named Desire .

Small, Jr., Robert C.  A Teacher’s Guide to the Signet Edition of Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire . New York: Penguin Group, 2004. Accessed July 19, 2016. http://www.penguin.com/static/pdf/teachersguides/streetcar.pdf.  This teacher’s guide contains ideas for activities for both the English class and interdisciplinary studies that can be modified to suit teachers’ needs.

Smith, Armantine M. “The History of the Woman’s Suffrage Movement in Louisiana.” Louisiana Law Review 62, no. 2 (Winter 2002): 509-560. Accessed June 19, 2016. http://digitalcommons.law.lsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=5926&context=lalrev.  This law review contains a quotation from 1854 about women’s roles; when coupled with A Streetcar Named Desire , it serves to highlight the static nature of women’s roles in the American South.

“Theme: Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire.” A Level English Language and Literature (EMC) Delivery Guide . Cambridge:  OCR, 2015.  Accessed July 19, 2016. http://www.ocr.org.uk/Images/261575-a-streetcar-named-desire-delivery-guide.pdf.  This teacher’s guide is especially valuable to IB teachers because it frames the unit using the language specific to the teaching of IB units.

Theriault, Sawyer A. “Anton Chekhov and the Development of the Modern Character.” Inquiries Journal/Student Pulse 1 (11), 2009.  Accessed August 4, 2016.  http://www.inquiriesjournal.com/a?id=70.  This article explains the evolution of the modern character; it attributes the creation of the modern character to Chekhov which, in studying the characters in A Streetcar Named Desire , underscores Chekhov’s influence on Williams’ writing.

  • Chicago Public Schools, “Admissions.”
  • Chicago Public Schools, “Overview.”
  • International Baccalaureate, Diploma Programme Language A: Literature Guide First Examinations 2013 , 13.
  • James Fisher, “Chekhov, Anton (1860-1904),” 37-38.
  • Sawyer A. Theriault, “Anton Chekhov and the Development of the Modern Character,” 1.
  • Ward Morehouse, “ A Streetcar Named Desire from the New York Sun ,” 25-26.
  • William Hawkins, “ A Streetcar Named Desire from the New York World-Telegram ,” 28.
  • Fitzhugh qtd. by Armantine M. Smith, “The History of the Woman’s Suffrage Movement in Louisiana,” 512.
  • Nicholas Grene, “Chapter 5: A Streetcar Named Desire : See-Through Representation,” 117.
  • “A conversation about ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ with actors Gillian Anderson, Ben Foster, and Vanessa Kirby,” 17:30.
  • Robert Emmet Jones, “Tennessee Williams’ Early Heroines,” 111.
  • Annette J. Saddik, The Politics of Reputation: The Critical Reception of Tennessee Williams’ Later Plays , 61.
  • “Theme: Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire,” 16.
  • Robert C. Small, Jr., A Teacher’s Guide to the Signet Edition of Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire , 15.
  • Douglas Grudzina, ed., “Formalist Activity Three: Analyzing Motifs and Recurring Images,” 31-33.
  • Common Core State Standards Initiative, “Reading: Literature » Grade 11-12.”
  • International Baccalaureate, Diploma Programme Language A: Literature Guide First Examinations 2013 , 9.
  • Ibid., 7-8.
  • Ibid., 10-12.

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'A Streetcar Named Desire' Themes

  • M.A., Classics, Catholic University of Milan
  • M.A., Journalism, New York University.
  • B.A., Classics, Catholic University of Milan

A Streetcar Named Desire deals with themes commonly found in Tennessee Williams ’ work: madness, homosexuality, and the contrast between the Old and the New South.

Homosexuality

A gay man, Williams wrote the majority of his plays between the 1940s and the 1960s, and back then homosexuality was still rooted in shame, with homosexual people playing a continuous game of illusions. 

Part of Blanche’s downfall has to do with her husband’s homosexuality and being disgusted by it. “A degenerate,” who “wrote poetry,” was the way Stella described him. Blanche, in turn, referred to him as “the boy,” whom she describes as having “a nervousness, a softness, and tenderness which wasn’t like a man’s, although he wasn’t the least bit effeminate looking.” Even though he never appears on stage directly, she manages to evoke his presence quite effectively in describing him and his subsequent death.

Blanche may even be characterized as a gay, male too. Her last name, DuBois, if anglicized, is “DuBoys,” and her whole character hints at male homosexuality: she plays with illusion and false appearances, as symbolized by the lightbulb that she covers with a paper lantern. “A woman’s charm is fifty percent illusion,” she says. This ambiguity on Blanche’s part is further emphasized by Stanley, who, with his brutish demeanor, sees through her act. “Take a look at yourself in that worn-out Mardi Gras outfit, rented for fifty cents from some rag-picker! And with the crazy crown on! What queen do you think you are?” he tells her. The fact that he uses the word “queen” pointed critics such as John Clum (author of Acting Gay: Male Homosexuality in Modern Drama ) towards seeing Blanche as an alter ego of Williams himself, but in drag.

Journey Between Two Worlds

Blanche journeys between two opposite, but equally inhabitable worlds: Belle Reve, with its emphasis of manners and southern traditions but lost to creditors, and Elysian Fields, with its overt sexuality and “raffish charm”. Neither is ideal, but they are stops along a slow destructive trip for the fragile Blanche, who was undone by the death and mannered immorality of the beautiful dream of Belle Reve, and is heading toward complete destruction in the Quarter. 

She goes to her sister’s apartment looking for asylum, and, ironically, she ends up in an actual asylum upon completely unraveling after being raped by Stanley.

Light, Purity, and the Old South

When moving to the Quarter, Blanche tries to appropriate an imagery of purity, which, we soon learn is just a façade for her life of destitution. Her name, Blanche, means “white,” her astrological sign is Virgo, and she favors wearing white, which we see both in her first scene and in her climactic confrontation with Stanley. She adopts the affectation and mannerisms of a Southern belle, in the hopes of securing a man after her first husband committed suicide and she had resorted to seducing young men in a seedy hotel. 

In fact, when she starts dating Stanley’s friend Mitch, she feigns chastity. “He thinks I am prim and proper,” she tells her sister Stella. Stanley immediately sees through Blanche’s game of smoke and mirrors. “You should just know the line she’s been feeding to Mitch. He thought she had never been more than kissed by a fellow!” Stanley tells his wife. “But Sister Blanche is no lily! Ha-ha! Some lily she is!” 

Sexuality and Desire

The three main characters of A Streetcar Named Desire are sexual. Blanche’s sexuality is decaying and unstable, while Stella, on the other hand, responds to Stanley’s thrown meat of the first scene with a gasp and a giggle, which has clear sexual connotations. The sexual chemistry shared by the Kolwaskis is the foundation of their marriage. “But there are things that happen between a man and a woman in the dark—that sort of make everything else seem—unimportant,” Stella tells Blanche. “What you are talking about is brutal desire—just-Desire!—the name of that rattle-trap street-car that bangs through the Quarter, up one old narrow street and down another,” her sister replies. 

And when Stella asks her whether she had ever ridden on that streetcar, Blanche answers with “It brought me here.—Where I’m not wanted and where I’m ashamed to be . . .” She is referring both to the streetcar that she boarded and to her promiscuity, which left her a pariah in Laurel, Mississippi.

Neither sister has a healthy approach towards sex. For Stella, the physical passion trumps the more daily concerns of domestic abuse; for Blanche, desire is “brutal” and has dire consequences for those who give into it. 

Tennessee Williams had a lifelong obsession with “madwomen,” possibly due to the fact that his beloved sister, Rose, was lobotomized in his absence and later institutionalized. The character of Blanche displays several symptoms of mental frailty and instability: she witnessed her late husband’s tragic death; she took to bedding “young men” in the aftermath, and we see her drink heavily throughout the entirety of the play. She also, quite vaguely, blames “nerves” for her having to take a leave of absence from her job as an English teacher.

Once in the Quarter, the web of deceptions Blanche spins in order to secure Mitch as a husband is yet another symptom of her insanity. Unable to accept her own reality, she openly says “I don’t want realism. I want magic!” However, what breaks her for good is the rape by Stanley, after which she is to be committed to a mental institution. 

Stanley appears to be quite perceptive, despite Blanche’s insisting that he’s a monkey. He tells his wife that back in Laurel, Blanche had come to be regarded “as not just different but down right loco—nuts.” 

Symbols: The Naked Lightbulb and the Paper Lantern

Blanche can’t stand to be looked at in harsh, direct light. When she first meets Mitch, she has him cover the bedroom light bulb with a colored paper lantern. “I can’t stand a naked lightbulb, any more than I can a rude remark or a vulgar action,” she tells him, comparing her hatred for the naked lightbulb to her hatred towards rudeness, indecency, and profanity. By contrast, the shade softens the light and creates an atmosphere that is more comforting and calm, thus removing any harshness. For Blanche, putting the paper lantern over the light is not only a way of softening the mood and altering the appearance of the room of a place that she deems squalid, but also a way of altering her appearance and the way others view her.

Hence, the lightbulb symbolizes the naked truth, and the lantern symbolizes Blanche’s manipulation of the truth and its impact on the way others perceive her. 

  • 'A Streetcar Named Desire' Overview
  • 'A Streetcar Named Desire' Characters
  • 'A Streetcar Named Desire' Quotes
  • The Setting of 'A Streetcar Named Desire'
  • 'A Streetcar Named Desire' Summary
  • A Streetcar Named Desire: Act One, Scene One
  • 'A Streetcar Named Desire' — Scene 11
  • "A Streetcar Named Desire": The Rape Scene
  • A Streetcar Named Desire - Scene Three
  • Biography of Tennessee Williams, American Playwright
  • 5 of the Best Plays Written by Tennessee Williams
  • Banned Plays Through History
  • Male Sexuality in Ancient Rome
  • Definition and Examples of Negative Contractions
  • Was Shakespeare Gay?
  • Berengaria of Navarre: Queen Consort to Richard I
  • Bibliography
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Davis, Jordan. "Gender-Based Behavior in "A Streetcar Named Desire"." W&M ScholarWorks, 1994. https://scholarworks.wm.edu/etd/1539625893.

Bauer, Christian. "Stereotypical Gender Roles and their Patriarchal Effects in A Streetcar Named Desire." Thesis, Högskolan i Halmstad, Sektionen för humaniora (HUM), 2012. http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-17170.

Maiman, Nichole Marie. ""Who wants real? I want magic!" musical madness in A streetcar named desire /." College Park, Md. : University of Maryland, 2004. http://hdl.handle.net/1903/1425.

Zúñiga, Hertz María del Pilar. "The glass menagerie and A streetcar named desire : Tennessee Williams and the confluence of experiences." Tesis, Universidad de Chile, 2013. http://www.repositorio.uchile.cl/handle/2250/115664.

Cline, Gretchen Sarah. ""Madness, sexuality, and the dialectics of desire: Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire and William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying"." The Ohio State University, 1985. http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=osu1302706789.

Homan, Elizabeth A. "Cultural contexts and the American classical canon : contemporary approaches to performing Tennessee William's A Streetcar Named Desire /." free to MU campus, to others for purchase, 1997. http://wwwlib.umi.com/cr/mo/fullcit?p9842537.

Borges, Guilherme Pereira Rodrigues. "Tradução e teatro : A Streetcar Named Desire, de Tennessee Williams, em múltiplas traduções para o português do Brasil." reponame:Repositório Institucional da UnB, 2017. http://repositorio.unb.br/handle/10482/24095.

Lee, Kenneth Oneal. "Plays of Tennessee Williams as opera: An analysis of the elements of Williams's dramatic style in Lee Hoiby's Summer and Smoke and André Previn's A Streetcar Named Desire." Thesis, University of North Texas, 2003. https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc5536/.

Silveira, Gustavo Cardoso. "De A streetcar named desire a Um bonde chamado desejo: uma análise sob o enfoque da linguística sistêmico-funcional." Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo, 2018. https://tede2.pucsp.br/handle/handle/21270.

Silva, Luciany Margarida da. "Character, language and translation : a linguistic study of character construction in a cinematic version of Williams' A Streetcar named Desire /." Florianópolis, SC, 1999. http://repositorio.ufsc.br/xmlui/handle/123456789/81105.

Goldstein, Emily R. "Reasons to be Desired." Scholarship @ Claremont, 2015. http://scholarship.claremont.edu/scripps_theses/686.

Jarekvist, Anja. "The social construction of gender : A comparison of Tennessee Wiliam´s A Streetcar Named Desire and Eugene O´Neill´s Long Day´s Journey into Night." Thesis, Högskolan i Halmstad, Sektionen för lärarutbildning (LUT), 2013. http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-21784.

Weiss, Katherine, Stephen Bottoms, Philip Kolin, and Michael S. D. Hooper. "A Student Handbook to the Plays of Tennessee Williams: The Glass Menagerie; A Streetcar Named Desire; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; Sweet Bird of Youth." Digital Commons @ East Tennessee State University, 2014. https://www.amzn.com/1472521862.

Lee, Kenneth Oneal. "Plays of Tennessee Williams as opera an analysis of the elements of Williams's dramatic style in Lee Hoiby's Summer and smoke and André Previn's A streetcar named Desire /." connect to online resource. Access restricted to the University of North Texas campus, 2003. http://www.library.unt.edu/theses/open/20033/lee%5Fkenneth%5Foneal/index.htm.

Lane, Michelle I. ""Why do hurt people hurt people?" A SERIES OF CASE STUDIES EXPLORING ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS IN DRAMATIC TEXTS AND ONSTAGE WITH TONI KOCHENSPARGER'S MILKWHITE." Ohio University Honors Tutorial College / OhioLINK, 2017. http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=ouhonors1492704228702652.

Joseph, Robert Gordon. "Playing the Big Easy: A History of New Orleans in Film and Television." Bowling Green State University / OhioLINK, 2018. http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=bgsu1522601211962016.

Quant, Brenda D. "From the Back of a Bus Named Desire." ScholarWorks@UNO, 2015. http://scholarworks.uno.edu/td/2118.

Chritaro, Gustavo Rocha 1978. "A Streetmusic Named Desire : Jazz e Cinema no exemplo de Alex North." [s.n.], 2015. http://repositorio.unicamp.br/jspui/handle/REPOSIP/285320.

GONCALVES, LUCIANA AFFONSO. "A CRY NAMED DESIRE: THE VOICE IN THE POLYPHONIC CREATION OF MARIO DE ANDRADE." PONTIFÍCIA UNIVERSIDADE CATÓLICA DO RIO DE JANEIRO, 2006. http://www.maxwell.vrac.puc-rio.br/Busca_etds.php?strSecao=resultado&nrSeq=9067@1.

Kotynski, Anne Elizabeth. "A Study Named Desire: How Global Versus Local Attentional Focus Priming Alter Approach Motivation for Desserts." Case Western Reserve University School of Graduate Studies / OhioLINK, 2016. http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=case1467979803.

Özer-Chulliat, Sibel. ""Se mettre en scène" dans les adaptations contemporaines de textes classiques : un point tournant dans l'art de la mise en scène ?" Thesis, Sorbonne Paris Cité, 2016. http://www.theses.fr/2016USPCA133.

Wang, Pei-Wen, and 王佩雯. "Desire and Death in Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire." Thesis, 2010. http://ndltd.ncl.edu.tw/handle/44889972383540849109.

Chang, Yu-chi, and 張渝琪. "A Contextualized interpretation of A Streetcar Named Desire." Thesis, 1997. http://ndltd.ncl.edu.tw/handle/92423740606890858846.

Chen, Chun-Yu, and 陳俊佑. "“Crash of Streetcar Named Desire”,Scriptwriting and Performance." Thesis, 2012. http://ndltd.ncl.edu.tw/handle/84565161669590579906.

Chen, Szu-chia, and 陳思嘉. "Normalization in Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire." Thesis, 2000. http://ndltd.ncl.edu.tw/handle/07716302864137677139.

呂季青. "A Translation and Introduction of A Streetcar Named Desire." Thesis, 2004. http://ndltd.ncl.edu.tw/handle/33892955411328494662.

Chou, Mei-huei, and 周美慧. "Blanche's Attachment in A Streetcar Named Desire: A Zen Approach." Thesis, 1998. http://ndltd.ncl.edu.tw/handle/35275056495651806887.

Wang, Huiting, and 王惠亭. "An Analysis of the Use of Symbols in Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire." Thesis, 2011. http://ndltd.ncl.edu.tw/handle/50121873008821372763.

賴榆樺. "Elia Kazans A Streetcar Named Desire and Woody Allens Blue Jasmine: a Comparative Analysis." Thesis, 2016. http://ndltd.ncl.edu.tw/handle/49970190534611369133.

Yu-ling, Hung. "Multiple Masquerades and Contradictory Female Images in Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Summer and Smoke." 2005. http://www.cetd.com.tw/ec/thesisdetail.aspx?etdun=U0001-1407200510551300.

Hung, Yu-ling, and 洪毓羚. "Multiple Masquerades and Contradictory Female Images in Tennessee Williams'' The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Summer and Smoke." Thesis, 2005. http://ndltd.ncl.edu.tw/handle/45039599020817382707.

Luz, Svea Sophie Pahlke. "Reality and illusion in theatre - Blanche DuBois and her individual perception of life in A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams." Master's thesis, 2017. http://hdl.handle.net/10362/20280.

Rodrigues, Elisabeth Porto. "De A Streetcar Named Desire a Um Bonde Chamado Desejo : o percurso discursivo de apresentação da personagem Stanley Kowalski em duas traduções brasileiras." Master's thesis, 2011. http://hdl.handle.net/10316/18165.

CHEN, LI-HUI, and 陳孋輝. "An Analysis of Tennessee William's "a Streetcar Named Desire", "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof", and "Rose Tattoo" from the Perspective of Symbolism and Actantial Model." Thesis, 2018. http://ndltd.ncl.edu.tw/handle/tac4ua.

林建輝. "Dream on: The Desire Named Thriller." Thesis, 2009. http://ndltd.ncl.edu.tw/handle/39048221369086790091.

"A streetcar named death: Public mourning, funeral directors, and the modernization of the New Orleanian funeral." Tulane University, 2021.

"A cry named desire: the voice in the polyphonic creation of mario de andrade." Tese, MAXWELL, 2006. http://www.maxwell.lambda.ele.puc-rio.br/cgi-bin/db2www/PRG_0991.D2W/SHOW?Cont=9067:pt&Mat=&Sys=&Nr=&Fun=&CdLinPrg=pt.

A Streetcar Named Desire And The Glass Menagerie

Looking at the characters, settings and plot devices used in both A Streetcar Named Desire and The Glass Menagerie, it’s clear that there are some similarities between the two plays. However, there are also some key differences that make each stand out as its own unique work.

Starting with the characters, Blanche Dubois from A Streetcar Named Desire is a very different figure than Tom Wingfield from The Glass Menagerie. Blanche is a Southern belle who is used to getting her own way, while Tom is an introverted young man who feels trapped by his home life.

Additionally, the setting of A Streetcar Named Desire is much more urban and gritty than the relatively isolated world of The Glass Menagerie. The plot of A Streetcar Named Desire also focuses on Blanche’s downward spiral, while The Glass Menagerie is more about Tom’s coming to terms with his own life and desires.

Despite these differences, there are still some similarities between A Streetcar Named Desire and The Glass Menagerie. Both plays deal with characters who are struggling to come to terms with their own lives and desires, and both use symbols and metaphors to explore the inner lives of their characters. Additionally, both A Streetcar Named Desire and The Glass Menagerie were written in the 1940s, which was a time of great change and turmoil in the United States.

Tennessee William’s novels ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ and ‘The Glass Menagerie,’ published in the late Thirties, depict a period of deprivation when the depression afflicted millions of people. Both plays utilized the traditional American family as a backdrop during the 1930s. There were several parallels between the plays, including personalities and events. Did Tennessee William write two different versions of the same play? Or did each play have a different significance beneath its veneer? We must begin by analyzing the characters before delving into the two plays.

Both Blanche and Amanda are single ladies, living in the past. They both long for their youth when they were beautiful and popular with gentlemen callers. They are also both disappointed with the men in their lives: Blanche’s husband committed suicide and Amanda’s husband abandoned his family. Blanche is a southern belle who uses her charm to try and seduce Stanley, while Amanda is a nagging mother who constantly tries to find a gentleman caller for her daughter Laura. Both characters are similar in that they are flawed women who live in a man’s world.

The main difference between Blanche and Amanda is their relationship with reality. Blanche is delusional and does not face reality, while Amanda is obsessed with reality and is very aware of her situation. Blanche tries to escape her problems by drinking and dreaming about the past, while Amanda tries to change her reality by finding a husband for Laura.

Another similarity between the two plays is that both Blanche and Amanda have a dysfunctional relationship with their respective family members. Blanche is estranged from her family because she had an affair with one of her husband’s students. Amanda is disappointed in her son Tom because he does not live up to her expectations. Both women are also trying to protect their younger female relatives: Blanche is trying to protect Stella from Stanley’s abuse and Amanda is trying to find a husband for Laura so she will not end up like her.

In Tennessee Williams’ Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire, and Laura Wingfield in The Glass Menageries, the two women are very similar. Blanche and Laura are both living apart from other people in their own universe. Blanche lives in a world of illusions, whereas Laura resides in a world full of glass animals.

Blanche is motivated solely by the desire to seek for and indulge her wildest dreams and desires. Because she feels she murdered her spouse, Laura lives in her glass animal-filled environment only because of a sickness that causes her to have a minor physical deformity.

First and foremost, both Blanche and Laura have a dependency on men. For Laura, it is very evident that she is dependent on her father and later on Jim O’ Connor. She is extremely shy around men, which could be due to the fact that she was never really exposed to them. When Jim comes over, she gets so nervous that she drops her glass unicorn. She then proceeds to tell him that it is her “favourite”.

In other words, she is trying to show Jim that she is just like him, with regular interests. The only difference is that hers are hidden away in her room. Laura wants so badly to fit in and be like everyone else, that she is willing to change herself for the better. For example, when Jim tells her that she should not wear glasses, she immediately takes them off and proceeds to try and fix her hair. She does all of this in an attempt to please Jim and make him like her.

Blanche is also dependent on men, but for different reasons. Blanche uses men as a way to escape from her problems. She had an affair with a student while she was still married, which eventually led to her husband’s suicide. After that incident, she was never able to be with another man without having some sort of sexual encounter with them.

When Stanley first meets Blanche, he can see right through her. He knows that she is a liar and he knows that she is only looking for one thing: sex. Blanche is so vulnerable and fragile, that she can’t help but be drawn to Stanley. He is the complete opposite of what she is looking for, but she can’t resist him.

Secondly, Blanche and Laura are both very insecure women. This insecurity leads them to do some crazy things in order to fit in or to make themselves feel better about themselves. For example, Laura tries on different outfits with Jim to find the one that makes her look the prettiest.

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A Streetcar Named Desire

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  1. What is a good thesis statement for A Streetcar Named Desire

    3. Because Stella cannot escape marriage like Blanche can, she is just is much of a victim in the end. A thesis that would tie all of these together would be: Although it seems like Blanche is the ...

  2. Thesis Ideas for "A Streetcar Named Desire"

    Death, sexuality, delusion and societal expectations create a dynamic rife with tension and power transfers in "A Streetcar Named Desire." Tennessee Williams' play tells the story of Blanche DuBois, an intelligent, fragile woman who moves in with her sister Stella and brother-in-law Stanley Kowalski after being expelled from her own community.

  3. Tennessee Williams' Play "A Streetcar Named Desire" Thesis

    Exclusively available on IvyPanda. In his chef-d'oeuvre play, A Streetcar named Desire, Tennessee Williams explores how reality works to counter the escapist illusions that people create and use to dodge the harsh realities of life. The majority of people resort to fantasy after life becomes unbearable; unfortunately, such illusions only lead ...

  4. A Streetcar Named Desire Essay

    A Streetcar Named Desire offers a rich tapestry of themes and characters, providing ample opportunities for creative exploration in your essays. ... Blanche and Stella relationship is important to analyze in this essay. Thesis statement: The function of the relationship between Blanche and Stella is evident: Williams establishes a contrast ...

  5. A Streetcar Named Desire Study Guide

    Key Facts about A Streetcar Named Desire. Full Title: A Streetcar Named Desire. When Written: 1946-7. Where Written: New York, Los Angeles, and New Orleans. When Published: Broadway premiere December 3, 1947. Literary Period: Dramatic naturalism. Genre: Psychological drama.

  6. 107 A Streetcar Named Desire Essay Questions, Topics, & Examples

    Light vs. Darkness in A Streetcar Named Desire; Stella and Blanche's Struggle for Autonomy; Stanley Kowalski as a Symbol of Masculinity; Music and Sound in A Streetcar Named Desire; How Social Status Shaped the Characters' Lives in the Play; 🏆 Best A Streetcar Named Desire Topic Ideas & Essay Examples

  7. A Streetcar Named Desire

    Thesis statement: Blanche Dubois and Stella Kowalski have fewer similarities than differences in terms of character, e.g. they both depend on their sexuality and depend on men around them, but the two women differ in their attitude towards reality, their ability to adjust to circumstances, their capacity to remain strong, and Tennessee Williams' play, simply illustrates these features.

  8. A Streetcar Named Desire: Mini Essays

    A Streetcar Named Desire can be described as an elegy, or poetic expression of mourning, for an Old South that died in the first part of the twentieth century. Expand on this description. The story of the DuBois and Kowalski families depicts the evolving society of the South over the first half of the twentieth century.

  9. Streetcar Named Desire

    Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of Streetcar 13 2022 Desire streetcar; by Joseph Woodson Pops Whitesell, photographer; 1947 or 1948; THNOC, 1999.44.3. B D and January 1947, Tennessee Williams lived inter-mittently in New Orleans. If you can imagine how a cat would feel in a cream-pu factory you can imagine my joy at being back in the Quarter,

  10. A Streetcar Named Desire: Themes

    Dependence on Men. A Streetcar Named Desire presents a sharp critique of the way the institutions and attitudes of postwar America placed restrictions on women's lives. Williams uses Blanche's and Stella's dependence on men to expose and critique the treatment of women during the transition from the old to the new South.

  11. Creating Connections to Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire

    A Streetcar Named Desire: The Moth and the Lantern. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1990. This book is especially intriguing because Adler defends an original viewpoint, providing a strong argument that the main character of the play is not Stanley Kowalski but Blanche DuBois. International Baccalaureate.

  12. 'A Streetcar Named Desire' Themes

    Sexuality and Desire. The three main characters of A Streetcar Named Desire are sexual. Blanche's sexuality is decaying and unstable, while Stella, on the other hand, responds to Stanley's thrown meat of the first scene with a gasp and a giggle, which has clear sexual connotations. The sexual chemistry shared by the Kolwaskis is the ...

  13. A Streetcar Named Desire Summary

    Scene 1. The play is set in the shabby but rakishly charming New Orleans of the 1940s. Stanley and Stella Kowalski live in the downstairs flat of a faded corner building. Williams uses a flexible set so that the audience simultaneously sees the interior and the exterior of the apartment. Blanche DuBois, Stella's sister, arrives: "They told ...

  14. The Importance of Illusion and Fantasy in A Street Car Named Desire

    This essay will discuss the role of illusion and fantasy in Tennessee Williams' "A Streetcar Named Desire." It will explore how the characters use illusion to cope with reality and how these illusions contribute to the play's tragic elements. Additionally, PapersOwl presents more free essays samples linked to A Streetcar Named Desire.

  15. A Streetcar Named Desire Themes

    Many critics believe that Williams invented the idea of desire for the 20th century. The power of sexual desire is the engine propelling A Streetcar Named Desire: all of the characters are driven by "that rattle-trap street-car" in various ways. Much of Blanche's conception of how she operates in the world relies on her perception of ...

  16. PDF Streetcar Named Desire

    MUSICAL MADNESS IN A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE by Nichole Maiman Thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Maryland, College Park in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts 2004 Advisory Committee: Dr. Jennifer DeLapp, Chair Dr. Barbara Haggh-Huglo Dr. Richard King

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  18. Dissertations / Theses: 'A streetcar named desire'

    Abstract An Analysis of the Use of Symbols in Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire The thesis is intended to examine the use of symbols in Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire. Williams, highly praised for his expressionism, poetic realism and symbolism, is generally regarded as one of the greatest American dramatists.

  19. Sexual Desire Theme in A Streetcar Named Desire

    Sexual Desire Theme Analysis. LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in A Streetcar Named Desire, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work. Many critics believe that Williams invented the idea of desire for the 20th century. The power of sexual desire is the engine propelling A Streetcar Named Desire: all of the ...

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  21. A Streetcar Named Desire And The Glass Menagerie Essay

    Blanche and Laura are both living apart from other people in their own universe. Blanche lives in a world of illusions, whereas Laura resides in a world full of glass animals. Blanche is motivated solely by the desire to seek for and indulge her wildest dreams and desires. Because she feels she murdered her spouse, Laura lives in her glass ...

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  23. A Streetcar Named Desire: Scene 3 Summary & Analysis

    Blanche and Stella retreat into a safe female space. Active Themes. The men force Stanley under the shower to sober him up, but as he continues to lash out at them, they grab their poker winnings and leave. Blues music plays from offstage. After a moment, Stanley emerges, soaked and repentant. He cries "Stella" over and over, his howls ...