A eetcar Named Desire” by Tennessee Williams “Stella has embraced him with both arms, fiercely, and full in the view of Blanche. He laughs and clasps her head to him. Over her head he grins through the curtains at Blanche. ” (Williams 73) A Streetcar Named Desire written by Tennessee Williams exemplifies the theme of a struggle to attain happiness. The play not only portrays this theme in its characters and setting, but through the literary devices of Foil, Imagery, and Intertextuality.
Williams took great care in applying each of these literary device techniques to the theme as he presents an intriguing contrast between Blanche and Stanley, vivid images both animalistic and broken, and imploring the use of the Odyssey to further deepen his characters. Each of these devices though varied in style combine effortlessly in this tragedy. One of the ways that Williams portrays his theme in this play was by using the literary device Foil.
This is most important in characterization and is also seen in the economy vs. relationships. In the play Williams purposefully misdirects readers by using male against female.
As in Stanley telling Stella what to do in certain situations, and also telling Blanche what she is going to do about the papers and Napoleonic code about “lost Belle Reve. ” (Williams 40-43) There is also the Poker Table scene in which this places Stella and Blanche in opposition and Mitch and Stanley. Mitch wants to continue talking with Blanche and Stanley wants Mitch to come and play poker. Mitch continually tries to leave saying that he needs to get home to his sick mother. Stanley obviously does not understand Mitch’s situation and his need to be home.
Stanley is really impatient as in he doesn’t like any distractions while he is playing his game. Stanley and Blanche both struggle for Stella’s attention, and they both want Stella on their side. In A Streetcar Named Desire the literary device known as imagery is constant and throughout the entire play. The image of animal nature is portrayed as equal to Stanley. “Bears her in the dark,” it is never said, but in those words you can gather that Stanley raped Blanche. The low moans of the clarinet and the blue piano all portray the image of what an animal would do. (Williams 129) Another form of imagery in the play is broken images.
There is the broken mirror and Mitch tearing the lamp. There is also Blanche’s husband Hickey killing himself. There is also the loss of the baby which is a broken part of the story. Intertextuality is the shaping of texts’ meanings by other texts. Williams uses this literary device by referring to Book Nine of the Odyssey. Blanche is equal to deception. She is always flirting with some man especially Stanley. Anytime she gets the chance while Stella is out of the room. Blanche is like Odysseus because she is very well aware of her deceptive truths. She uses them to manipulate in situations.
She blinds Stanley by her deceptive ways. Intertextuality is also used in the image of Cyclopes. Stanley portrays the image of Cyclopes. He is also referred to as “One-eye monster,” in the play. He is referred to this character because of his strong will and physically strong, but he falls easily into Blanche’s trap of being blinded. Although there are many other literary devices that are used throughout A Streetcar Named Desire these devices work together in unison to thoroughly express the theme in their struggle to attain happiness. Though they try very hard the happiness is never really gained.
These literary devices are used to create an image in the readers minds that Williams intended to do. I found myself questioning while reading this play, “Why is the title of the play A Streetcar Named Desire? ” Well I found that while reading in the beginning of the play Blanche comes into town and she is a look for a streetcar like a trolley or taxi entitled Desire. So she takes this streetcar to her Stella her sister’s house. At the end of the play Blanche is taken away in a mental institution vehicle she is not well. It is implied that another streetcar came to pick up Blanche, but not one called Desire.
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