Kelso High School English Department

Kelso High School English
A Streetcar named
Desire – Scene One
Characterisation- Blanche
Characterisation - Blanche
Blanche is initially portrayed in a negative
manner. She comes across as a frivolous,
hysterical, insensitive and self-obsessed
individual who derides her sister’s lesser
social status
From early on in the play we are made aware
of Blanche’s craving for drink, though her
attempts to disguise her drinking immediately
portray her as dishonest
Blanche Dubois
Blanche is also portrayed as being aware of
social distinctions. She is offhand with both
Eunice and the neighbour. To Blanche these
women are not being kind, they are simply
behaving in the way Blanche would expect
her social inferiors to behave. Her attitude
towards these women foreshadows her
condemnation of Stella’s way of life and
therefore implicitly her husband
Blanche Dubois
Another aspect of Blanche’s character revealed in
this scene is her vanity and her need of flattery.
Blanche is afraid of growing old and losing her looks.
She relies on flattery to banish these terrors
Blanche is clearly vulnerable, yet she is very much
the older sister, treating Stella as a child and
expecting her to run errands. Her superficiality and
her haughtiness portray her in a negative light in the
minds of the audience
Characterisation - Stanley
Stanley Kowalski
Though we do not see much of Stanley in
this scene, he definitely makes an impact
The description contained within the stage
direction “gaudy seed-bearer” conveys his
sexual magnetism and his masculinity
His entrance with the package of meat
symbolises his primitive qualities as it is if he
were bringing it back to his cave fresh from
the kill
Stanley Kowalski
Stanley’s cocky interactions with Blanche
show him to be insensitive as he barely lets
Blanche get a word in edgeways as he
quickly assesses her beauty
Yet, the audience is more likely to
sympathise with Stanley rather than Blanche
as his unpretentiousness and zest for life
contrasts sharply with her snobbish values
Stanley Kowalski
His entrance also underscores the intense
sexual bond between himself and Stella
He yells “Catch” as he throws the package. A
moment later the Negro woman shouts
“Catch what?” Eunice and the Negro woman
see something sexual and hilarious in
Stanley’s act of tossing the meat to a
breathlessly delighted Stella
Setting - New Orleans
New Orleans is immediately portrayed as a
cosmopolitan city where all races mingle
freely. Here blacks mingle with whites and
members of ethnic groups play poker and
bowl together. This is the changing face of
the new America, clearly represented by the
character of Stanley
Elysian Fields is the name of the rundown
street. The irony is obvious as in classical
mythology Elysian Fields are the equivalent
of paradise or the home of the blessed dead
The irony is continued in the fact that Stanley
is clearly at home in Elysian Fields, but the
Kowalskis’ home and neighbourhood are
certainly not Blanche’s idea of heaven
Setting - The Apartment
Throughout scene one the windows and door
of the apartment are left open. This
symbolises the way in which Stanley and the
others leave everything out in the open
Belle Reve which is the name of the Dubois
family’s former plantation translates as
“beautiful dream”. This is appropriate as the
“dream” is now all that remains of it
Stage Directions
The blue piano music is used to symbolise
the Elysian Fields area of New Orleans
The polka music (that only Blanche and the
audience can hear) is obviously important
and its importance is made clear in Scene 6
Stage Directions
Williams’ directions are precise in their use of
imagery and contrast sharply with the language used
by most of the characters on the stage ( with the
exception of Blanche and Stella). They therefore
serve to underline the uneducated speech of most of
the people on the stage.
In contrast Blanche’s quotation from Poe’s poem
reminds us that she is an English teacher
Stage Directions
The stage directions are also used to draw
our attention to the two main characters –
Blanche and Stanley
Remember Blanche’s arrival as though
“dressed for a garden party” and her
fluttering manner reminding us of a moth
Remember Stanley’s description as “the
gaudy seed bearer”
Blanche / Stanley
Blanche’s white clothes ironically suggest virginal
Blanche’s constant drinking symbolises her inability
to cope with reality and her desire to forget the past
Blanche’s representation as aristocratic and
sensitive symbolises the old South
Blanche hearing the Polka symbolises her thinking
about her dead husband
Blanche’s obsession with her appearance
symbolises her inability to cope with reality. We all
become old and lose our looks
Stanley’s animal sexuality is symbolised by
numerous stage directions
Stanley’s butcher’s package symbolises
blood, danger, violence and his primitive
Stanley’s characterisation being brash, loud
and arrogant is symbolic of the New South
The music of the blue piano symbolises the
vitality and pleasure of the French Quarter of
New Orleans
The cramped apartment is symbolic of all the
characters being thrown together and the
claustrophobic lives they lead