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Varsouviana Polka in A Streetcar Named Desire

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Sam Zhou

on 21 January 2015

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Transcript of Varsouviana Polka in A Streetcar Named Desire

Varsouviana Polka in
A Streetcar Named Desire

Scene Nine, page 139
The rapid, feverish polka tune, the “Varsouviana,” is heard. The music is in her mind
Scene Nine, page 141
“… [
She touches her forehead vaguely. The polka tune starts up again.
] … That – music again…”
“What music?”
“The ‘Varsouviana’! The polka tune they were playing when Allan – Wait!
A distant revolver shot is heard. Blanche seems relieved.
There now, the shot! It always stops after that.
The polka music dies out again.
Yes, now it’s stopped.”
“Are you boxed out of your mind?”
The Varsouviana polka is played more and more often as the play progresses
This parallels Blanche's descent into madness - as Blanche becomes more insane, the Varsouviana is played more often
Scene Eight, page 136
“Ticket! Back to Laurel! On the Greyhound! Tuesday!”
The Varsouviana music steals in softly and continues playing. Stella rises abruptly and turns her back. Blanche tries to smile. Then she tries to laugh. Then she gives both up and springs from the table and runs into the next room. She clutches her throat and then runs into the bathroom. Coughing, gagging sounds are heard.

Scene Six, page 115
Polka music sounds, in a minor key faint with distance.
“We danced the Varsouviana! Suddenly in the middle of the dance the boy I had married broke away from me and ran out of the casino. A few moments later – a shot!”
The Polka stops abruptly.
Then, the Polka resumes in a minor key.

Scene One, page 28
“You were married once, weren’t you?”
The music of the polka rises up, faint in the distance.
“The boy – the boy died. I’m afraid I’m – going to be sick!”

What is the purpose of Varsouviana Polka?
What is Varsouviana Polka?
Polka - dance music from 19th century Central Europe, popular throughout Europe and the Americas
The Varsouviana Polka:
Originated from Warsaw, Poland, around 1850.
The word Varsouviana or the Varsovienne, are Spanish and French feminine adjectives meaning “from Warsaw”.
Type of polka that is in ¾ time and has an accented downbeat in alternate measures.
Incorporated elements from waltz, mazurka, and polka, giving it a unique quality.
Used to represent Blanche’s mental instability and descent into madness

Associated with Blanche’s past

Blanche’s instability stems from her inability to let go of and escape from her past
Scene Eleven, page 171
Scene Eleven, page 174
The music of the
Varsouviana polka
is a mesmerizing tune and its repetitiveness
shows how listening to this music constantly
could have made
Blanche insane.
for me, then! [
She looks fearfully from one to the other and then to the portieres. The “Varsouviana” faintly plays
] Is it the gentleman I was expecting from Dallas?”
The “Varsouviana” is filtered into a weird distortion, accompanied by the cries and noises of the jungle.

This correlation, along with all of the instances where the Varsouviana polka is mentioned, shows that the Varsouviana polka is indeed representative of Blanche’s insanity.
Full transcript