The Use of Lightning, Music, and Mini-scenes in Williams Play “A Streetcar Named Desire”

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The author of the play uses a different style which makes him achieve his objectives of dealing with those targeted by the play including music, lightning as well as mini-scenes. The used light in the play is important for the description of the characters and the themes. Contrasts dim light and harsh light to underscore the theme of truth versus illusion. Dim light symbolizes Blanche's world of illusion because it helps to disguise the truth about herself. For example, she asks? Mitch to place a paper lantern over a bulb to dim the glaring light in order to hide her true age from him. Later Mitch mentions to Blanche that she refuses to be seen in the harsh glare of the sun. He finds this suspicious because I've never had a real good look at you (126). Blanche fears if Mitch knows her real age or the facts of her life in Laurel, he won't marry her.

In dissimilarity harsh light represents the naked truth, especially as seen by Stanley and Mitch. When Mitch wants to find out Blanche's age, he removes the paper lantern, exposing Blanche to the harsh light of a naked light bulb. Blanche finds this action insulting, but Mitch sees it as truthful. Blanche believes a woman should be allowed some deceit to protect her vanity. A gentleman should understand this need. However, for Mitch and Stanley, the main goal is to expose the facts without any shadings. To show this Williams has the Kowalski apartment lit with glaring light. In fact, soon after Blanche arrives at the apartment, she tells Stella to switch off the upstairs light due to the reasons. "I would not be looked at in this merciless glare"(8) Blanche also has many unpleasant truths about herself she would prefer not to see.

Apart from the use of lightning, Williams utilizes music, like blue piano, the song "It's Only a Paper Moon" and the Varsouviana polka, to represent his characters' inner lives, set the mood, and further define the themes of the play. The term blue piano suggests the blues, mournful music often written in response to life's hardships and tragedies. The music of the blue piano, which opens and closes the play, is often heard during particularly sad or tragic moments. For example, the blue piano grows louder as Blanche admits to Stella that Belle Reeve is lost, and again as Blanche flirts desperately with a young man. Later in the play, the blue piano's music grows louder until it turns into the "roar" of a train as Stanley prepares to rape Blanche. In addition to this another song "It's Only a Paper Moon" appears only once in the play, when Blanche sings it while taking a bath in Scene 7, while Stanley reveals Blanche's sexual exploits to Stella. Its lyrics focus on one of Blanche's struggles to deal with truth versus illusion: "But it wouldn't be make-believe if you believe in me!"(107). the song "It's Only a Paper Moon" reveals Blanche's reliance on illusion to help her find true love. She believes that manipulative flirtation and hiding the truth about her sexual escapades is the only way to secure romantic love.

The use of songs continues with Varsouviana polka which signifies the combination different things such as desire, destruction, and death that haunts Blanche, and which began with her husband's suicide. The author cues this polka when Blanche describes the death of her husband, at the time Stanley gives Blanche a go back ticket to Laurel, where her life has fallen apart after she is caught having sex with one of her teenage students, and when the Doctor and Matron arrive to take Blanche away in Scene eleven.

The division of the play into eleven acts in the paper enables the author write what he intended in short acts hence displaying his talents. This is not a typical structure use by different plays but the author chose it to present their ideas in a unique manner. Each of the eleven scenes ends with a dramatic expression or gestures. The scenes are linked well through the play with no rest between the readers. The author's choice of the use enables him to develop the themes and the characters as well.

Works cited

Kolin, Philip C. Williams: A Streetcar Named Desire. Cambridge University Press, 2000.

A Street Car Named desire (2017). Available at: [Accessed 2 Dec. 2017].

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The Use of Lightning, Music, and Mini-scenes in Williams Play "A Streetcar Named Desire". (2018, Dec 27). Retrieved May 18, 2024 , from

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