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A Streetcar Named Desire
Tennessee Williams
• America’s most
famous playwrite
• Writes in Southern
gothic style- stories
full of weird, twisted
characters
• Characters reflect
own dysfunctional
life
Hated by the church
•
He was blacklisted by
the Catholic church:
• “His work is revolting,
deplorable, morally
repellent and offensive
to Christian standards
of decency”
Meanie Williams
• Father was a
physically and
emotionally abusive
traveling shoe
salesman
• He hated
Tennessee but
loved brother
Crazy mother Williams
• Mother was a
descendent of
wealthy southern
family
• Appearances
crucial
• Smothering and
manipulative
Off to the loonie bin
• Williams loved his
beautiful sister,
Rose
• Rose was
promiscuous- family
claimed she was
mentally ill
• Parents made her
get a lobotomy
Crazy Life= famous writer
• Williams never
forgave his parents
• Credited alcoholism
and own mental
instability to bizarre
and cruel family
• Homosexual,
alcoholic, drug
addict
Famous works
• Won the Pulitzer Prize
for Streetcar in 1948
• Won the Pulitzer Prize
for Cat on a Hot Tin
Roof (1955)
• Won awards for Glass
Menagerie
Death by Eye Drops
• One of the most interesting deaths of all authors
• Choked to death on the cap of an eye drop bottle in
1971- MAY have been drug related??!!
A Streetcar Named Desire
• Most famous
American play
• Iconic line- STELLA!
• Story of the clash
between body and
mind
• Reflected Williams’
view of himself as a
loser in that battle
Stanley Kowalski
• Played by Marlon
Brando
• Meat eating beast
• Hottie- sexual
undertones constant
• Crude, mannerless,
uneducated but
honest, realistic
Stella Kowalski
• Stanley’s wife
• Brought up with
money and
manners- turns
away from gentility
• Unable to resist the
attraction of
Stanley’s animal
charm (and sweaty
undershirt)
Blanche Du Bois
• Name means “White
Forest”
• Clings to civilities of old
life- poetry, literature,
manners
• Former “belle of the
ball”
• Oddly similar to teacher
in Room 505?…picture
a Diet Pepsi in her left
hand
Blanche
• Deceptive- lies about
plantation, jewels,
boyfriends, job
• Has seduced a studentbeen fired
• Utter loneliness results
in affairs with strangers
• Fragile, emotionally
unstable, afraid
Themes and Symbols
• Streetcars- Take
“Desire” to “Cemeteries
to “Elysian Fields”
• Sex- Death
• Light- Shadow
• Fantasy v. RealityBelle Reeve= “beautiful
dream”
• Women’s harmful
dependence on men
• Survival of the fittestmeat
The Censors Speak
• 1950’s -- very strong
censorship committee
controls all media
• Refuses to allow the
word “homosexual” or
“rape”
• “correct standards of life
must be presented”
• “the sympathy of the
audience shall never be
thrown to the side of
wrongdoing, evil or sin”
Compromise
• Elia Kazan and the
censors reached an
agreement that
these issues could
be implied but not
explicitly shown- first
treatment of these
issues on film
In conclusion….
• P.S. Why you should not pick a spouse based on
hotness at age 25

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