The Use Of Language In A Streetcar Named Desire

1516 words - 6 pages

The Use of Language in A Streetcar Named Desire

Analyse how Tennessee Williams uses language and dramatic techniques to
explore attitudes to identity in ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’. Make close

Analyse how Tennessee Williams uses language and dramatic techniques
to explore attitudes to identity in ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’. Make
close reference to an extract in the play. Go on to show your
understanding of the significance of attitudes to identity in the play
as a whole.

Williams’ play ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ has a full variety of
attitudes to identity which are demonstrated through the various
characters. Attitudes to identity are important in the play as it
gives us a background to the character’s lives and who they think they
are, also how others perceive them. Mitch’s character, for example,
can be seen to represent various attitudes to identity; he could be
seen as being unsure about who he is, he could be seen as having a
masculine life with Stanley and his friends, but then he also has to
tend to his mother where he is perhaps seen as not such a masculine
man. He is also caught between Blanche, Stanley and his mother; as he
can’t be the same to all three.

Attitudes to identity are shown clearly in scene eight; this is just
after Blanche’s birthday when Stanley has told Mitch everything he
knows about Blanche’s past. This is an important scene in presenting
the character’s attitudes. We are given further insight into the
relationship that Stanley and Stella share and also that of Stella and
Blanche; showing us how Stella is sometimes torn between her husband
and her sister. Here, Stanley and Stella have a disagreement which
shows us how the other characters perceive Stanley and how he sees
himself. We also see a lot about Blanche’s character and her doubts
about her own identity.

Ideas around the identity of Stanley’s character are explored in scene
eight. The lexis used in this scene explores how he sees himself and
how he is seen by the other characters. The vocative used by Blanche
and Stella to address Stanley conveys their, especially Blanche’s
feelings towards him, ‘Mr. Kowalski’ they say. This vocative seems
quite formal spoken in such an informal setting as their house, and
quite out of place, this could show that the women maybe see Stanley
as superior, in the way that he is a man and they feel that they
should look up to him. As well as presenting attitudes to identity,
this could also show attitudes to gender and the differences between
the roles of males and females. In this scene, some of Stanley’s
utterances contain many exclamatories and interrogatives which seem to
make firm statements of what he is saying. For example he says ‘that’s
how I’ll clear the table! Don’t ever talk that way to me!’, it seems
as though he is shouting these words and this could show his
dominating and intimidating character perhaps. Phonology used in
Stanley’s utterances could...

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