Play Analysis: A Streetcar Named Desire

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Remind yourself of the passage in Scene One from page 4: Blanche: They told me to take a streetcar... to page 7: I spy, I spy! What key ideas do you find in this sequence and which details have led you to them?

As is typical of many plays and novels both at the time Tennessee Williams was writing and in modern society A Streetcar Named Desire provides social commentary on the idea of class, or, namely, the differences between classes. Through setting the play in New Orleans, a town which seems to be a more progressive southern American town in the 1940s, Williams' provides his audience with the perfect setting to play out the battle between the upper and lower class. He quickly establishes the difference between not only the classes but also the 'new world' and the 'old world', with the new world represented by, in this scene, Eunice, although typically in the play the audience associates Stanley with the new world, and the old world, as is typical throughout the play, represented by Blanche. Even from this early sequence in Williams' play he demonstrates his interest in the interaction between the two worlds and, more prominently, which will outlast the other. Williams quickly establishes the difference between the old and new worlds through the characters of Blanche and Eunice, with Blanche, associated with her great big [house] with white columns, Belle Reve – meaning 'beautiful dream' in French and clearly meant to represent the lower class perception of a dreamlike, wealthy upbringing for upper class Southern families – distinctly typifying the apparently affluent old world, and Eunice, with her typically lower class speech patterns, such as watchin', or that's what she's at, contrasting with Blanche's typically upper class language, and admiration for the tales of Blanche's wealth indicating the idea of the new world, a poor, less educated society than the old world. Although this early impression of Blanche is perhaps different from the view of her...
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