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Context on Streetcar named desire

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Adam Williams

on 9 November 2014

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Transcript of Context on Streetcar named desire

Context on A Streetcar named desire
Context of author
some people have said that what Williams' writes about links to his own experiences
"Edwina (his mother), locked in an unhappy marriage, focused her overbearing attention almost entirely on her frail young son. Many critics and historians note that Williams found inspiration for much of his writing in his own dysfunctional family." mirrors the bad relationship Stanley and Stella have
Williams like many other playwrights during the 20s liked to question society to gain inspiration, his focus was to find out how the minds of people worked
He liked to pick out the finer details in situations
Dramatic/Theatrical context
Plastic theater - "Plastic Theatre, is the use of props, noises and/or stage directions to convey a blatant parallel with the characters states of mind on stage."
"symbolic, non-realist, metaphorical theater that uses objects, musical underscoring, costumes, props and theatrical space to create an experience for the audience that suggests poetic truths. "
Williams' way of showing how the mind works, he found that it was a better way to show people his inner thoughts
"This genre of theatre arose from Expressionism. Rather than attempting to create a vision of ‘reality’, Williams created a highly personalised vision of the world that included distorted images symbolising inner psychological states"
Tennessee Williams' influences
Williams wrote this play as he saw it as an "escape from a world of reality" a world which he himself did not feel comfortable to be in
Williams wrote about life as he saw it. Was not bothered by writing about taboo topics to the society he lived in
He was inspired to write this play because he too had lived in New Orleans in a similar to the place in his play is set (houses, venues, places)
inspires for the title by two streetcars he saw "Desire" and "Cemetery" Williams claimed this symbolic of life itself
Had influence from not only American drama but also European culture too
Historical context
Williams started working on streetcar at the end of WW2. hardly any mention is made of war during the play. link to Pride and Prejudice
Little mention was made as he was more affected by the American Civil War as this defeat caused the south to suffer economic problems
This issue of defeat and depression on society made an appeal for many people to write
Williams was particularly interested in the the progress of America (past, present and future) so he used characters in his play to show his ideas on this part of society
While Williams was writing, for the majority of his life homosexuality was illegal
Social context
The play was released in the 40s and is set in the same time period
The nation had just come out of a war and was "ready to embrace the "old-fashioned" values of family and home."
During the 30s and 40s there was a lot of focus on the middle and lower classes as there was a extremely high level of unemplotment
"many American writers during and after the 1930's chose to focus on the brave individual stories of those who were members of the lower and middle classes, believing that their strong work ethic and their ambitions characterized them as true Americans."
play takes place in an area of New Orleans named Elysian Fields, which refers to the place that ancient Greeks believed served as a home for the dead. After victorious soldiers died in battle, they went to Elysian Fields for eternity, to celebrate their lives, their courage, and their accomplishments. (Stanley Kowalski and his friends)
Cultural and political context
Williams viewed the south of America as being a "damaged place in which decay was somehow charming"
he goes on to say that the south is "not a society based on money" and that he thinks that "the war between romanticism and hotility is very sharp there"
Williams is considered to be a an "almost completely non political writer" he would rather be writing about society and every day life as it had a bigger appeal to him
Williams' play shows reflection of cultural conflict through the characters personalities within the play
Full transcript