Close analysis - a Streetcar Named Desire in 20 quotations

7 pages of close analysis, covering 20 of the most important quotations in Williams’ a Streetcar Named Desire. Quotations are chosen if they are pivotal to character or plot development, or if they introduce key themes or motifs. Close analysis for meaning and including A level linguistic and literary terminology. Ideal as a revision aide for your students, or for teachers about to begin teaching the play for the first time. Sample analysis below:

#1 “The houses are mostly white frame, weathered grey, with rickety outside stairs and galleries and quaintly ornamented gables” p1
These opening stage directions introduce the New Orleans setting and demonstrate how the environment in which they live acts as a parallel for the characters’ lives. Immediately we can recognise the clash between past and present – pre-civil war grandeur in the “ornamented gables” is now fading, tarnished somewhat. The stairs are old enough to be “rickety” and the purity associated with the past in the play (“white frame”) now seems contaminated (“weathered grey”) by what happened since. Like Blanche, the former beauty of the houses seems to have decayed. We can also appreciate the clear geography of the setting in – evident from this architectural style characteristic of New Orleans. The town was a cultural melting pot that, for Williams, represented modernity and the future – at odds with Blanche’s antebellum world of plantation houses and strict social and racial segregation. We can also appreciate another theme in the way that the outside stairs and galleries create a sense of exposure – as if moments that should be private and domestic are made public for all to see, playing the audience as uncomfortable voyeurs to the action.

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Created: Feb 5, 2019

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