Assess the significance of the historical context of life in America in 1947 in its relevance to the play.

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I tend to think that the historical context of 1947 America is highly significant to the drama.  It becomes clear from an early point that Williams is writing about the collision of worlds between "the old South" and "the new South."  Embodied in both Blanche and Stanley with their fight over power, Williams makes it evident that America in 1947 has fundamentally changed, and with it, the construction of the South is a part of this change.  Gone are the days of Belle Reve and the Southern Plantation culture, something which Blanche cannot handle in her own mind and through her own being.  Replacing these days is the reality of the New South, where new constructions of power are present through money and materialism.  Stanley enjoys this because it enables him to be on a level, if not superior, playing field to Blanche.  When he tells Stella that she, too, used to be perched amongst the "high pillars" and how he "dragged" her down, it is a reflection of how power is constructed in this new vision of the South.  Williams, himself, understood this and wrote as much regarding how the America of 1947 played a fundamental role in understanding the drama, as a whole:

I write out of love of the South ... (which) once had a way of life that I am just old enough to remember—a culture that had grace, elegance, an inbred culture, not a society based on money.

This becomes the context for Williams' drama and ends up helping to drive its plot to its inevitable and tragic conclusion.

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