A Streetcar Named Desire

Illusion vs. Reality in A Streetcar Named Desire 11th Grade

“A picture is worth a thousand words.” This timeless saying embodies the ability of imagery to convey multiple messages and themes in an overarching structure. Through detailed nuance, the playwright Tennessee Williams utilizes the imagery found in his characters’ actions and settings to surpass the limitations of explicit narration. His technique is especially useful for depictions that are multifaceted in nature and require subtle progression. When portraying the human psyche, such techniques give remarkable depth to characters and their development throughout a story. Through recurring patterns in scenes, dialogue, and the general tendencies of his characters, Williams is able to outline a psychological breakdown that not only avoids being superficial, but is also stimulating to the audience. In A Streetcar Named Desire, Williams uses music, lights, and dialogue to illustrate Blanche DuBois’ dependence on illusion and her descent into madness.

Often, music is used as a relief to trauma. Williams contradicts this tendency by using music to usher in tense scenes. In one scene, Blanche DuBois reveals the importance of a recurring tune – the Varsouviana: “The ‘Varsouviana’! The polka tune they were playing when Allan – Wait! [A...

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