The Use Of Symbols In "A Streetcar Named Desire" By Tennessee Williams

1368 words - 6 pages

"As he [Tennessee Williams] proclaims in one of his many essays, theatre becomes most potent "through the unlocking and lighting up and ventilation of the closets, attics, and basements of human behavior and experience." To accomplish this, he develops a dramatic form he describes as "personal lyricism", blending psychologically realistic characters with overtly poetic language and a heavy reliance on stage symbolism" (Adler). Authors constantly take everyday objects or certain actions and transform them into symbols of significant meaning and importance to the plot and overall effectiveness of a work. In the play A Streetcar Named Desire, written by Tennessee Williams, the use of symbols ...view middle of the document...

That's how it struck the world for me. But I was unlucky. Deluded." (Williams 95). This shows where Blanche's affliction with light stems from and why she hides herself in obscure light, too afraid she might be hurt again if she lets the vivid light back in. Just as Blanche finishes telling Mitch about her deceased husband, a locomotive goes by and the head lights flash through the window, illuminating Blanche for that one instant in the darkened room symbolizes her moment of complete vulnerability. For that one moment she stops playing games and is completely honest with Mitch. Eventually Stanley "brings to light" the truth about Blanche and her reasons for leaving Laurel (Corrigan 54). Stanley enlightens Mitch with the whole story about her history and Mitch confronts Blanche and tears the paper lantern from light bulb, and demands he get a proper look at her (Corrigan 54). In the final scene, Stanley rips the paper lantern from the bulb, this represents the complete end to the shadowy reality Blanche tried to create.The music in the background plays a major role in A Streetcar, it shows up at various times throughout the play, and gives incite into how Blanche is feeling. Whenever Blanche is in a stressful situation or starts to lose her hold on reality the Varsouviana polka can be heard in the background (Sparknotes). The first time the polka is heard in Scene One it is caused when Stanley asks Blanche about her husband, after the initial playing in the first scene, the Varsouviana plays increasingly often and is always a distraction to Blanche (Sparknotes). The music in Blanches head is often caused by reminders of Allen's suicide, and it only ends after a gunshot sounds in her head. The polka and the memory it brings forth symbolize Blanche's loss of innocence (Sparknotes). Also, it represents death, and Blanche feeling a coming disaster (StudyWorld). This is made apparent when it starts to play when Blanche receives the Greyhound ticket from Stanley and in Scene Six when Mitch confronts Blanche,Blanche: "Somethings the matter tonight, but never mind. I wont's cross-examine the witness. I'll just --[She touches her forehead vaguely. the polka tune starts up again.]--pretend I don't notice anything different about you! That--music again...(Williams 114)."The Varsouviana fading in and out throughout the final scene shows Blanche sensing something is incredibly wrong and that her end is looming. The distortion of the polka as the struggle between the Matron and Blanche takes place symbolizes Blanche's deeper descent into insanity and allowing her primitive side take over as she attempts to ward off her...

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