A Streetcar Named Desire

Comparing Social and Ethnic Tensions in A Streetcar Named Desire and Blues for Mister Charlie

A Streetcar Named Desire and Blues for Mister Charlie are both concerned to a large extent with tensions between different ethnic groups and, since in both plays the ethnicity of each group defines its social position, different social groups as well. The two plays are stylistically similar, employing expressionist techniques while maintaining naturalistic dialogue and only occasionally making forays into lyricism. The plays differ in that while A Streetcar Named Desire explores the tension between two specific characters, each implicitly representative of a particular group, Blues for Mister Charlie deals explicitly with large societal groups at loggerheads.

After the founding of the Washington Square Players and Provincetown Players in 1920, American drama grew more concerned with bringing social analysis to the stage. This movement towards 'social drama,' of which A Streetcar Named Desire is a product, found its impetus in admiration for turn-of-the-century European drama from the likes of Ibsen and Brecht. American drama quickly detached itself from Europe by developing a style of its own, merging expressionism and naturalism to express concerns central to America. The economic boom and civil unrest after World War...

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