A Streetcar Named Desire Scene 1 1)Look up the word “Elysium” in the dictionary, and comment on the use of the name “Elysian Fields” for Stella and Stanley’s apartment. 2) What makes the building have a “raffish charm?” 3) Is it appropriate that the play is set in early May? 4) Comment on the mood portrayed in the stage notes. 5) Why does Williams choose to start the play with one black and one white woman talking? 6) Read the dialogue on pp115-16 Scene2 1) Look at the stage directions on pp132-133 for Stanley. How do they help to show his mood? 2) Why do you think Stella is so vague about Belle Reve? 3) What stage direction for Stanley helps to emphasize that “the Kowalskis and the DuBois have different notions”? 4) Why has Williams chosen for Stella to wear white? 5) Why do you think Blanche flirts with Stanley, asking him to do up her buttons? 6) What do you think of Stanley’s attitude towards giving women compliments. 7) Comment on this extract: “life is too full of evasions and ambiguities, I think. I like an artist who paints in strong, bold colours, primary colours. I don’t like pinks and creams, and I never cared for wish-washy people.” P137 8) Comment on the tones used by Stanley and Blanche on p138 9) “I hurt him the way that you would like to hurt me” p139 what does she mean? 10) Why does Stanley seem “baffled” by the letters? 11) Why does Williams include the stage direction for Blanche to put on a pair of glasses? 12) Why does Stanley become “somewhat sheepish”? 13) Why does the blue piano sound louder when he announces Stella’s pregnancy? 14) Was the scene with Stanley easy for Blanche? 15) What do the following lines tell us about Blanche? “How pretty the sky is! I ought to go there on a rocket that never comes down.” 16) Why is the vendor included in the scene? Scene 3 1) Comment on the “lurid nocturnal brilliance” mentioned in the stage directions on p143. 2) How is this idea continued in the stage directions? 3) Why do you think Stanley tosses the watermelon rinds on the floor? 4) Explain why Williams has included Steve’s story 5) Does Blanche really find poker “fascinating”? Explain. 6) Explain Stanley’s “thigh slap” 7) Is it a coincidence that Blanche stands in the light through the portieres? 8) Comment on the stage directions at the top of p148 9) How does Blanche flirt with Mitch? 10) Comment on the symbolism of the lantern. 11) Why do you think Mitch is “delighted” with Blanche’s dancing? 12) What does the music on p153 add to the scene? 13) Comment on the stage directions on p154 14) Blanche looks up at the sky. What significance do you think the sky has in the play? Scene 4 1) 2) 3) 4) Comment on the description of Stella in the stage directions. Why do you think Stanley ran around smashing all the light bulbs in the house? Do you admire Blanche for trying to “save” her sister in this scene? Look at p162 when they talk about Desire. What does she mean by “it brought me here?” 5) How correct do you think Blanche is in saying Stanley is “downright – bestial”? 6) “Some kinds of new light have come into the world since then” Comment. 7) What do you think of Stanley’s decision not to confront Blanche when she is making derogatory comments about him? Scene 5 1) Comment on the effect the juxtaposition of Blanche’s letter and Eunice and Steve’s argument creates. 2) P166. Stella comments “that’s much more practical” What do you make of this comment? Do you see Eunice as a victim? 3) “You won’t pick up nothing here you ain’t heard before” (p166) Comment 4) “You must have had lots of banging round in the army.” Comment 5) Quote 4 expressions that show you that Blanche is disturbed by the conversation with Stanley 6) Why does Williams mention the murmur of thunder on p168? 7) Look carefully at and comment on Blanche’s speech on p169 8) How earnest do you think Blanche is when she says “ believe I feel things more than I tell you” 9) Do you see any significance in Blanche’s comment that the “fizzy stuff foams over”? 10) “he thinks I’m sort of-prim and proper…I want to deceive him enough to make him…want me” Comment 11) Comment on the scene with the young man Scene 6 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) Why is Mitch depressed? Quote some of Blanche’s prim language on p178-9 How do we know from the stage directions on p180 that she is acting? What is she suggesting when she says “the hostility of” and why? “ it was like you suddenly turned a blinding light on something that had always been half in shadow.” P182. Comment. 6) Why does she hear a locomotive outside? 7) “the searchlight which had been turned on the world was turned off again and never for one moment since has there been any light that’s stronger than this- kitchencandle” Comment. P184 8) To what extent do you feel sympathy for Blanche at the end of the scene? Scene 7 1) Comment on the effectiveness of using Blanche’s singing contrapuntally with the discussion between Stella and Stanley. 2) Look at the song lyrics and decide why Williams chose these songs. 3) Why is Blanche laughing in the tub? 4) How is Blanche affecting Stanley and Stella’s relationship? Scene 8 1) Why is the dusk “still-golden”? 2) Do you think it is the first time that she has been stood up? 3) Would Stella have told Stanley that he is making a pig of himself if Blanche hadn’t been there? 4) What does he mean by “get the coloured lights going”? p196 5) Why do the stage directions mention Steve and Eunice at this point? 6) “candles burn out …you see too plainly” p196 Comment 7) What does Stanley’s telephone conversation show? 8) What does the Varsouviana music symbolise? 9) Copy: “I pulled you down off them columns and how you loved it , having them coloured lights going”. Comment 10) At the end of this scene, Blanche emerges from the bathroom having been sick. She is “twisting a washcloth” and singing “the corn bread without salt”(!) Do you think that she is actually starting to lose her mind here? Scene 9 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) 6) 7) 8) 9) Comment on the importance of the Varsouviana on pp200-201 What makes Mitch stare at her “contemptuously”? What is the significance of Mitch tearing off the paper lantern? (203) What do you think of her comparison of herself to a spider? P204 “I thanked God for you, because you seemed to be gentle – a cleft in the rock of the world that I could hide in!” p205 Does this speech increase our sympathy for Blanche? Explain “I didn’t lie in my heart” p205. Is this true? Williams’ stage directions are very detailed and usually significant. Why does he include the old Mexican flower vendor quietly calling “flowers for the dead”? Blanche states that the opposite of death is desire. Discuss p206 in detail. If she was prepared to answer so many men’s demands with no expectations, why does she become so hysterical when Mitch wants to sleep with her? Scene 10 1) Comment on the detail used in the stage directions on p208 2) Is there any evidence from the first pages of this scene that Stanley intends to rape Blanche? 3) How sincere is she in her speech on p211? 4) Write down words (also from the stage directions) that create a dangerous, sinister atmosphere on pp213-5 5) Why does the sound of the piano turn into the roar of a locomotive? 6) “we’ve had this date with each other from the beginning.” Why does he want to rape her? How do the stage directions at the bottom of p215 make you feel for Blanche? Is there any suggestion that she wants to have sex with Stanley? Scene 11 1) Why do you think Mitch is angry? 2) “Don’t ever believe it. Life has got to go on. No matter what happens, you’ve got to keep on going.” In the context of this play, do you agree with Eunice? 3) On p222, Williams creates tension. Comment on how he creates a tense, disturbed atmosphere. 4) How effective do you find the ending?