A Streetcar Named Desire Choose a play in which a central concern is clarified by the contrast between two characters. Discuss how the dramatist’s presentation of the contrast between the two characters adds to your understanding of this central concern. The theme of appearance versus reality is clarified by the differences between Blanche and Stanley. Blanche represents illusion/false appearance – she tries to hide her past, her age. Stanley represents reality – he is very honest and upfront about the type of person he is, he has no secrets. They conflict throughout and finally Stanley crushes Blanche’s illusions (by revealing her secrets, confronting her about her lies and raping her) Reveals the message of the theme – reality will win over illusion, you cannot live a lie. Choose from a play a scene in which tension builds to a climax. Explain how the dramatist creates and develops this tension, and discuss the extent to which the scene has thematic as well as dramatic significance. Scene 10 (the rape scene) builds to a climax with tension being created through the conflict between Blanche and Stanley and the stage directions. Blanche acts increasingly hysterical and irrational. Stanley snaps after she calls him a swine and cruelly crushes her illusions, telling her she’s a liar. He becomes threatening and violent and eventually rapes her. The menacing stage directions (sound, lighting, the streets of New Orleans) add to the tension. Link to either theme: reality wins over illusion, or desires lead to death for false people (Blanche destroyed by desire.) Choose a play which features one of the following themes: appearances versus reality; good versus evil; dreams versus reality; youth versus age. Show how the dramatist develops one of these themes and discuss how the exploration of this theme enhances your appreciation of the play as a whole. Theme of appearance versus reality gradually developed throughout ‘Streetcar’. Blanche appears innocent, delicate, ladylike at the start of the play, but she is not at all like this in reality. Her past hinted at throughout then revealed by Stanley. Theme further developed through the conflict between Blanche and Stanley – she represents false appearance/illusion, he represents reality – reality wins in the end, you cannot live a lie. A Streetcar Named Desire Choose a play in which a central character experiences not only inner conflict but also conflict with one (or more than one) other character. Explain the nature of both conflicts and discuss which one you consider to be more important in terms of character development and/or dramatic tension. Blanche experiences inner conflict – she cannot deal with aging, struggles to hide her promiscuous past, is traumatised by her part in Allan’s death and the deaths in her family that she had to cope with alone and is stressed about having to find a new husband to provide her with future security. Blanche also conflicts with Stanley – he is suspicious of her and resents her intrusion into his life with Stella. Stanley hates the way Blanche thinks she is better that him and investigates her past to reveal her secrets, confront her and rape her – all of which contribute to destroy Blanche. Theme of appearance versus reality revealed through their conflict - – she represents false appearance/illusion, he represents reality – reality wins in the end, you cannot live a lie. State which conflict you find most important – can choose either as long as you justify. Choose from a play which you feel is made particularly effective by features of structure such as: dramatic opening, exposition, flashback, contrast, turning point, climax, anticlimax, denouement… Show how one or more structural feature employed by the dramatist adds to the impact of the play. Play has great impact through the following structural features: Turning Point: Scene 6, when Blanche reveals what appears to be her dark secret – her part in Allan’s death to Mitch and he still suggests they have a future together. Can go either way from this point; all work out or go horribly wrong for Blanche somehow. Climax: Scene 10, when the tension between Blanche and Stanley reaches its peak and he rapes her. There needed to be some resolution to their conflict, but this is particularly shocking. Denouement (the resolution at end): Scene 11 when life goes on as normal for Stanley and Stella (she chooses to believe her husband over her sister) and Blanche is taken away to a mental hospital – shocking to see that Stanley has won. Link to theme: appearance versus reality – everything went wrong for Blanche because she lied, Stanley and his reality won in the end. Choose from a play a scene which significantly changes your view of a character. Explain how the scene prompts this reappraisal and discuss how important it is to your understanding of the character in the play as a whole. Scene 7 changes the audience’s view of Blanche as the full extent of her promiscuous past is revealed. May have been suspicious about her before, but did not realise how badly she had acted – seduced a 17 year old schoolboy, her house was ‘off limits’ to an army base, she was evicted from her hometown of Laurel for being promiscuous and immoral. Blanche is shown to be a hypocrite – she has been leading Mitch on but pretending to be pure and innocent. Link to theme: appearance versus reality. A Streetcar Named Desire Choose from a play a scene in which an important truth is revealed. Briefly explain what the important truth is and assess the significance of its revelation to your understanding of theme or character. Scene 7 changes the audience’s view of Blanche as the full extent of her promiscuous past is revealed. May have been suspicious about her before, but did not realise how badly she had acted – seduced a 17 year old schoolboy, her house was ‘off limits’ to an army base, she was evicted from her hometown of Laurel for being promiscuous and immoral. Blanche is shown to be a hypocrite – she has been leading Mitch on but pretending to be pure and innocent. Very important for understanding theme: appearance versus reality. Williams’ message in exploring this theme is that reality will win over false appearance in the end – this is the start of Blanche’s downfall. Choose a play in which a character behaves in an obsessive manner. Describe the nature of the character’s obsessive behaviour and discuss the influence this behaviour has on your understanding of the character in the play as a whole. Blanche behaves in an obsessive manner, trying to create a false appearance of herself and trying to keep up the facade throughout the play. She tries to appear younger than she is, tries to hide her promiscuous past and she obsessively bathes to wash away her sins. No one can keep up such obsessive behaviour forever and cracks start to show in Blanche – she becomes increasingly nervous and hysterical. Helps the audience to understand how she could completely lose grip on reality by the end of the play. Understand her through the exploration of the theme: appearance versus reality. Choose from a play an important scene which you found particularly entertaining or particularly shocking. Explain briefly why the scene is important to the play as a whole and discuss in detail how the dramatist makes the scene so entertaining or shocking. Scene 10 in the play is particularly shocking because Stanley rapes Blanche. Blanche seems particularly nervous and vulnerable in this scene – she is scared to be in the house along with Stanley, who becomes increasingly threatening and intimidating. The menacing stage directions (sound, lighting, the streets of New Orleans) are very unsettling for the audience (as well as Blanche). Important to play as a whole: There needed to be some resolution to their conflict, but the fact that he rapes her is particularly horrifying. See in the final scene that he has completely destroyed her by the rape. Important as the theme of appearance versus reality is highlighted: Blanche represents false appearance/illusion, Stanley represents reality – reality wins in the end, you cannot live a lie. A Streetcar Named Desire Choose a play in which a character makes a crucial error. Explain what the error is and to what extent it is important to your understanding of the character’s situation in the play as a whole. Blanche makes the crucial error of lying to everyone about her past, her age and her real character. She struggles to maintain this facade throughout the play and eventually loses her last chance of future security because Mitch is disgusted she has lied to him. If she had been honest from the start he would probably have still married her. Because of her lies, Stanley has an opportunity to reveal them and to destroy her – appearance versus reality – reality will win in the end. Choose a play in which a character is seeking the truth, avoiding the truth or hiding the truth. Explain to what extent the character achieves this aim and discus how the dramatist uses the situation to reveal important aspects of the character’s role in the play as a whole. Blanche is hiding the truth about her age, her past and her real character. Initially she is successful, she fools Mitch and Stella is unaware of her promiscuous past, although Stanley is suspicious of her from the outset. Gradually, her facade begins to slip and Stanley discovers and reveals the truth about her past. Mitch forces her to stand under the light to see her true age. Through the revelations about Blanche, Williams explores the theme of appearance versus reality – reality will triumph eventually, as Stanley destroys Blanche. Choose a play in which the conclusion leaves you with mixed emotions but clearly conveys the dramatist’s message. Briefly explain how the mixed emotions are aroused by the conclusion and then discuss how you are given a clear understanding of the message of the play as a whole. Conclusion leaves the audience feeling sympathetic towards Blanche, but understanding that her fate was inevitable because of her behaviour throughout the play. Sympathetic because she has totally lost grip on reality and is taken away to a mental hospital, chiefly as a result of Stanley raping her and Stella choosing to believe her husband over her sister. This is tragic and upsetting. Understand however that the end is fitting in exploring the theme (either) so there is a sense of inevitability and satisfaction that the message is so clear. - Acting upon their desires leads to death for people who are weak and false (metaphorical death for Blanche in the end) - Reality will always win over false appearance/illusion, just as Stanley wins over Blanche A Streetcar Named Desire Choose a play which underlines how one person’s flaw(s) can have a significant impact on other people as well as on himself or herself. Explain briefly the nature of the flaw(s) and then, in detail, assess how much the character and others are affected. Blanche’s main flaw is that she tries to hide her true self from everyone around her – link to theme: appearance versus reality. She lies about her age, her promiscuous past and her true character – she is not the innocent, moral person that she pretends to be. Her dependency on her imaginary persona finally causes her to lose grip on reality, fully believe her own lies and end up in a mental hospital. Her lies also impact on Mitch – he loved her but felt cheated when her lies were revealed. Mitch expected to marry Blanche and have a happy life with her, and was devastated when his dream fell apart. Blanche’s flaws also affect Stella. Because Blanche is revealed to have lied so much, Stella can believe Stanley over her sister’s claims of rape. This means Stella has the traumatic task of sending Blanche to a mental hospital. Choose a play in which an important theme is effectively highlighted by one specific scene or incident. Explain how the theme is explored in the play as a whole and then show in detail how the chosen scene or incident highlights it. Could choose from several scenes, but only pick ONE for your essay: Death and desire: Scene 6 - Blanche telling Mitch about Allan Gray’s death. Clearest example of desires leading to death for people who live a lie and of death leading to desire for Blanche. In the scenes that follow we understand how the theme also relates to Blanche’s character – she pretends to be something she is not (innocent, moral) so as a result of her desires (her intimacies with strangers) she begins on the path to her metaphorical death. Appearance versus reality: Scene 7 – Stanley reveals the truth about Blanche’s past and it is clear that the way she appears is not the way she is in reality. May have been suspicious about her before, but did not realise how badly she had acted – seduced a 17 year old schoolboy, her house was ‘off limits’ to an army base, she was evicted from her hometown of Laurel for being promiscuous and immoral. Blanche is shown to be a hypocrite – she has been leading Mitch on but pretending to be pure and innocent. Williams’ message in exploring this theme is that reality will win over false appearance in the end – this is the start of Blanche’s downfall.