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A Streetcar Named Desire

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Kate Balding

on 15 September 2014

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Transcript of A Streetcar Named Desire

Today we will...
Examine the historical
of 'A Streetcar named Desire'.
Explore the life and writing of Tennessee Williams

The circumstances in which something occurs or is created, which can include time, setting and events.
1930s America
The Great Depression
Following a stock market crash in America,
a huge financial depression swept across
the western world, lasting a decade.
The economy was only restored when the
onslaught of war demanded increased industry
1939 - 1945
World War II
In 1941 the US joined
the War after the Japanese
bombed Pearl Harbor.
As American soldiers were mobilised
for battle, industry boomed and employment
rose in the States.
Late 1940s
As a result of financial recession and both World Wars, the upper class of society - the ruling 'aristocracy' - were losing their money and traditional power base.
In addition to this, the industry created by war meant that many more people were working, including women. These working class people, including the soldiers returning from war, were hailed as the heroes of America.
In other words...
The gap between social classes was getting smaller. The aristocracy was dying and a new age of industry was taking over
'A Streetcar Named Desire' is set in late 1940s America, after the War, in a city called New Orleans
New Orleans is in the deep south of America, and was famous for its jazz music, clubs and multi-culturalism.
However this was not necessarily typical of the South. There was still severe segregation between blacks and whites in other Southern towns and cities. The 'Old South' was also still known for its traditional values of aristocracy and mysterious codes of chivalry and honour.
New Orleans, as a setting, presents a tension between the nostalgia of Old Southern values and the new industrial efficiency of the working classes mixing together.
What's a streetcar?
Streetcars are wheeled public transport carriages that run along lines on the road.
Streetcar lines have names, just like the London Underground lines. 'Desire' was a real streetcar route in New Orleans.
Streetcars were originally pulled by horses, and then were steam-powered. By the time of the play, they were powered by electricity.
Between 1939 and 1947, the number of industrial workers in the South almost doubled, from 1.3 million to 2 million.
Who is Tennessee Williams?
Tennessee Williams was born
Thomas Lanier Williams III in
Columbus, Mississippi, in 1911.
His friends began calling him
Tennessee in college, in honor of
his Southern accent and his
father’s home state.
Williams had a difficult childhood. His father, a traveling salesman, was a heavy drinker, and his mother was prone to hysterical fits. He was very close to his older sister Rose, however she also suffered from bouts of depression and was eventually instituitionlised later in life.
Williams drew much inspiration for his writing from his own life. Alcoholism, depression, thwarted desire, loneliness, and insanity were all part of Williams’s world. His experience as a known homosexual in an era unfriendly to homosexuality also informed his work.
In Williams' long career he wrote twenty-five full-length plays (five made into movies), five screenplays, over seventy one-act plays, hundreds of short stories, two novels, poetry, and a memoir.
In the years following his graduation, Williams lived a bohemian life, working menial jobs and wandering from city to city. He described New Orleans as "my favorite city of America . . . of all the world, actually."
Williams died in 1983 when he choked on a medicine-bottle cap in an alcohol-related incident at the Elysée Hotel in New York City. He was one month short of his seventy-second birthday
Produce a poster that presents the context of 'A Streetcar named Desire.' Try to include some themes that have been introduced so far, and link them to context.
For example...
the title of the play
historical events
dates and facts
the life of Tennessee Williams
themes and ideas

Uses images, facts, quotes, comments, colour and any other artistic tools at your disposal!
Research a topic
and present next lesson
in your groups.
Full transcript