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Music in A Streetcar Named Desire

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by

Jacqueline C

on 5 May 2011

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Transcript of Music in A Streetcar Named Desire

Music in a Streetcar Named Desire Why Music? -provides expressive links from
reality to madness
-expresses inner action allowing
the audience to better understand
Blanche's breakdown
-provides structural unity
-emphasizes mood and atmosphere
-expresses thematic dramatization The Blue Piano In the play's opening scene,
a tiny "Blue Piano" sounds in
a bar around the corner from
Stanley and Stella's apartment.
The "Blue Piano" plays as
Blanche arrives at Alysian Fields,
and is dominant when she
recounts the deaths at Belle
Reve (Scene 1), while she kisses
the young man from the
newspaper (Scene 5) and when
the Doctor leads her away to
the asylum (Scene 11). "The distant piano goes into a
hectic breakdown" (105).

This occurs when Blanche
questions Stella about what
Stanley has told her.

" The barely audible "blue piano"
begins to drum up louder. The
sound of it turns into the roar
of an approaching locomotive"
(129).

The music from the "Blue Piano"
also is prevelant in the moments
just before her rape in Scene
10. Williams uses this to add to
the dramatic mood of the scene. Paper Moon -only played once in the play (Scene 7)
-lyrics are about fantasy and how
something make believe can turn
into something real
-this song symbolizes the permeable
boundary between what is real and
what isn't
-also gives insight into Blanche's mind
and deranged character
As Blanche sings this, Stanley is revealing
her sordid past to Stella. This asserts the
capacity of Blanche's imagination to
create truth. "Say, it's only a paper moon,
Sailing over a cardboard sea--
But it wouldn't be make-believe
If you believed in me!" In the play, this song expresses Blanche's
hopes for her relationship with Mitch. She lies to him about her past therefore the world she has created is "make believe". The song suggests however that it would not be a fantasy world if Mitch believed in and loved her. Varsouviana Polka -this was the song played in the last moments before her husbands suicide
-since then, she hears it whenever she is mourning his death and feeling remorse for her role in his death
-this not only symbolizes her remorse, but her descent into fantasy
-the emotional trauma she suffered as a result of his suicide is taking its toll on her
-as the play goes on and her grip on reality weakens, the polka plays more frequently Only Blanche and the audience are
able to hear the polka, indicating
it is in her world of memories. at the end of the polka,
a gunshot is heard in her
mind, symbolizing her
husbands' suicide Blanche first hears the tune when
Stanley asks her, "You were married
once, weren't you?" and again when
he gives her a ticket back to Laurel
for her birthday. The polka also occurs
throughout Scene 9 in which Mitch
confronts her about her promiscuous
background. She again hears a
distorted version of the polka in Scene
11 when she realizes she is to be
committed to an asylum. "The rapid fresh polka tune, the "Varsouviana", is heard. The music is in her mind; she is drinking to escape it and the sense of disaster closing in on her, and she seems to whisper the words of the song" (113).  ...a few doors down the street, from a tiny piano being played with infatuated fluency of brown fingers. This “Blue Piano” expresses the spirit of the life which goes on here. "...a few doors down the street, from a tiny piano being played with infatuated fluency of brown fingers. This “Blue Piano” expresses the spirit of the life which goes on here" (13). Introduces the play with the sullen beat of jazz music. Adds to the imagery of the opening setting in the play. Also introduces the idea of segregation from the black and white population of New Orleans "Dusk settles deeper. The music from the Four Deuces is slow and blue" (83). In this part of the play the young newspaper boy enters and has an encounter with Blanche. Highlights the mood because it kind of makes the scene more seductive and adds to the setting because as the day comes to an end it is raining and is emphasized by the unhurried music. "The luxurious sobbing, the sensual murmur fade away under the swelling of music of the “blue piano” and the muted trumpet" (142). Blanche has been taken away by the mental hospital men and Stella is mourning over her lost sister. The blue piano emphasizes the depressing mood within the characters. Polka music sounds, in a minor key faint with distance...The polka stops abruptly...Blanch rises stiffly. Then, the polka resumes in a major key...Mitch gets up awkwardly and moves toward her a little. The polka music increases. Mitch stands beside her...He kisses her forehead and her eyes and finally her lips. The polka tune fades out" (96). When Blanche is telling Mitch about her lost love she is reliving the night through the polka music in her mind. Williams uses music to add to the tone
and atmosphere of the play. The music corresponds with the different aspects of Blanche's mental anguish and reveals her increasing emotional deterioration.
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