A Streetcar Named Desire: Scene 1 How Williams depicts the nature of New Orleans with his detailed stage directions. Context: why did he choose to live there in 1938? ‘tender blue…invests the scene with a kind of lyricism…[which] attenuates the atmosphere of decay’affectionate description ‘the music of Negro entertainers’, The ‘blue piano’- signs of the culture of the period, vibrant ‘cosmopolitan city…easy intermingling of races’ Williams chose to move to New Orleans due to its diversity and liberal/tolerant attitude towards sexuality/race etc. Ways in which Stanley’s swaggering vitality is suggested. ‘red stained package’ and exclamation ‘Meat!’- Stanley’s masculinity and sexuality- metaphorical for the way he is sexually dominant- impact on Stella ‘she laughs breathlessly’ Stanley is ready to assert his manhood now he has returned from fighting in the war. Stella describes the impact on her- when he’s away she goes ‘wild’ and when he returns she cries ‘on his lap like a baby’- we understand her dependence upon him from the beginning. How Williams establishes the character of Blanche on her first appearance on stage. Comment on the name Blanche DuBois and its possible significance. ‘incongruous’ to her environment- does not fit in with the society of New Orleans- represents different values. ‘a moth’- delicate/fragile, but drawn to danger Blanche- white- purity, innocence- ironic- has been ‘tarnished’ by her society’s standards Interaction with Eunice- uncomfortable Avoidance of the ‘merciless glare’ of the light yet wants the attention of her sister ‘I want you to look at my figure!’ How the twin themes of sex and death are suggested in this opening scene. Image of the ‘red stained package’ Recurring ‘Red hots!’- implying passion and desire integral to the culture here. Names of the streetcars- Blanche has to travel on ‘Desire…transfer to one called Cemeteries and…get off at Elysian Fields’- shows the connection between sexual desire and death- one will lead to the other. The significance of references to the plantation. ‘A great big place with white columns’- reminder of the past, links to appearance of plantation homes. Belle Reve- meaning beautiful dream- a façade, unsustainable, archaic way of life- times have changed and the wealth and the dominance if the Old South is changing. Blanche describes how Belle Reve has been ‘lost’ which highlights how the world is changing. She describes how the ‘Grim Reaper…put up his tent’ on the ‘doorstep’. This shows how much Blanche’s home was dominated by death and how it appeared to be inescapable. A Streetcar Named Desire: Scene 1 The way Blanche uses practised deception – something which undermines her from the start with the audience. Indications of Blanche’s disturbed state of mind. Her deceit about alcohol- drinks but then ‘replaces the bottle and washes out the tumbler’, hiding her actions. Pretends she doesn’t know where the alcohol is when Stella arrives. Covers up the real reason for her learning her job. ‘shaking all over and panting for breath…The bottle nearly slips from her grasp’- already shown to be extremely anxious. Presentation of her drinking- dependent upon it. Dominates the conversation with Stella- erratic behaviour- ‘She begins to speak with feverish vivacity as if she feared for either of them to stop and think.’ Uses many exclamations. ‘a wild cry’- seems to be out of control She explains that she was ‘so exhausted’ and her ‘nerves broke’ Evidence of Blanche’s and that the high school superintendent (Mr Graves) suggested reason for losing her she take a ‘leave of absence’- we discover later on in the play that job. this is a lie (Scene 7). Evidence of Blanche’s dismissive attitude to those she sees are not from the same class or background as the DuBois family. Initial interaction with Eunice- stage direction ‘[Wanting to get rid of her]’ then dismissive when shown kindness: ‘What I meant was I'd like to be left alone.’ Blanche is shown to be ignorant of different races and uses the derogatory term ‘Polack’ to describe Stanley, which offends him. The significance of the polka and the screech of the cat. The ‘polka’ music is used when Stanley questions Blanche about her marriage- demonstrates her emotional response and the guilt she still feels over her husband’s suicide. Highlights how she cannot move on. The screech of the cat demonstrates how fragile and anxious Blanche is- her reactions is exaggerated to emphasise how she is struggling to maintain a façade of control. How Expressionism is used in the opening scene Colours- ‘The sky…is a peculiarly tender blue’. Highlights Williams’ affection for location. Music- evocative scene created in the opening stage direction; The ‘blue piano’ recurs throughout the play to highlight way of life in New Orleans- energy and vibrancy. The recurrence of the ‘polka’ to represent Blanche’s guilt.