Scene - 1, A Street Car Named Desire What is the opening stage direction indicate about the playwright's style and dramatic technique?street car named desier

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herappleness's profile pic

M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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In the opening scene also shows a poor, blue collar neighborhood and is infused with jazz and blues piano notes that consistently put the audience in the mood of a New Orleans 1940's urban poor town. That descriptive technique is what sets out the atmosphere.

When Blanche appears,she says the memorable words:

I rode a streetcar named Desire, then transferred to a streetcar named Cemeteries, which brought me to a street named Elysian Fields

That entire phrase is the complete foreshadowing of what her life is and will become: She lived for lust, and found the death of her persona, and ended up in an Asylum.

Yet, there is more: She is impeccably wearing white clothes *blanche=white (in French) and symbolizes the fake purity and clarity she pretends to illustrate* and her presence is a massive contrast against the background, foreshadowing that there will be a clash of characters, histories, stories, and personalities. That would be a second technique.

The fact that Blanche is dressed in white against a dirty background also foreshadows in the audience that inevitably those clothes are very prone to become dirty and stained in that environment and that is another foreshadowing of what will go on.

What this indicates is that Williams is already alerting the audience that the characters are indeed all extremely different one from another, and while some may be co-dependent, each has unique and independent perspective in the story line, and each has a unique set of psychologies to be analyzed.

samteacher's profile pic

samteacher | (Level 2) eNoter

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At first, the stage directions convey a lot of detail about the setting, for instance this rundown quarter of New Orleans is ironically named ‘Elysian fields’, yet Blanche discovers it does not match her expectation of a paradise, foreshadowing a tragedy. In fact, instead of being a place of eternal rest, the ‘Elysian fields’ is a multi-cultural, vibrant and sensual place with the ‘blue piano’, evoking sexual tension.  One of her first acknowledgement to the setting is disorientation and confusion, as she cannot believe where she has just arrived, repeating ‘Elysian field’ in disbelief, which also emphasizes how at odds with this place the protagonist is. The way he depicts the opening scene also helps create a powerful contrast between Blanche and her surroundings. At this time, social distinctions were ignored. Therefore, black people where having relationships with whites, and members with different ethnic groups played poker as well as bowled together. As Blanche arrives at Stella’s apartment, she immediately becomes the antagonist of the setting. Moreover well a claustrophobic sense develops through Blanche’s reaction to the place. The confined setting of two-room apartment creates an oppressive heat, and hence, Blanche feels overwhelmed. Her incredulous questions to her sister about the apartment immediately cause tension between the two characters and there’s a sense of blanche has walked into a cage, which is the opposite of her expectation.

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