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Friday, January 31, 2014

Literature Analysis 1

A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
Just a warning to those considering to read this book, it has a lot of adult content that might be rough for some readers.

1. Briefly summarize the plot of the novel you read according to the elements of plot you've learned in past courses.  Explain how the narrative fulfills the author's purpose.
The story begins in New Oleans in the the home of married couple Stanley and Stella.  It is immediately obvious that Stanley sees himself as the head of the household and looks down upon Stella.  The conflict begins when Stella's sister Blanche arrives.  Stella and Blanche grew up on a large and lavish piece of family land called Belle Reve.  Previous to Blanche's arrival it is revealed that Blanche's homosexual husband committed suicide and that Blanche lost Belle Reve.  Alone and confused she begins to sleep around and becomes the town slut and loses her job.  She fleas to Stella's with no desire to go back.  One night she witnesses Stanley beating Stella and immediatley dislikes him.  This dislike becomes mutual for the two of them and Stanley reveals Blanche's past that she has been hiding.  Stanley tells Stella and Mitch (Stanley's friend who Blanche wants to marry) about Blanche's past.  While this is happening, Blanche is slowly going mad as her past dwells on her and she tries to surpress it.  The climax arrives as Blanche is waiting for Mitch to pick her up for a date.  He never shows up and Blanche sits at Stella's house alone because Stella is in labor and Stanley is with her.  Stanley comes home and it's just him and Blanche, she tries to leave and her doesn't let her.  She slides to the floor helplessly and Stanley caries her to the bedroom to rape her.  The falling action begins as Stella brings home the baby and Blanche's rape has made her go officially mad.  Stella refuses to believe that Stanley raped Blanche and ships her off to mental institution.  This story portrays the authors purpose in trying to show how important it is to escape from fantasies and facades of perfect lives.  Rather than trying to hide from things that you're afraid of under lavish fantasies, break free and find something better for yourself.  Otherwise, your past and present will eat you up. 
2. Succinctly describe the theme of the novel. 
The theme of this book is too complex I feel to condense into a short phrase.  This play embodies the idea of denying reality and running away from it.  The characters won't accept the way life really is because they are stuck in this ideologized fantasy of how they want it to be.
3. Describe the author's tone. 
The tone was caustic and disgruntled, but also a little sympathetic for Blanche's situation.  Here are some examples from the text:
"Oh, I guess he’s just not the type that goes for jasmine perfume, but maybe he’s what we need to mix with our blood now that we’ve lost Belle Reve." -Scene two
"Whoever you are—I have always depended on the kindness of strangers." -Scene eleven
"I can't stand a naked light bulb, any more than I can a rude remark or a vulgar action. p. 60
4. Describe a minimum of ten literary elements/techniques you observed that strengthened your understanding of the author's purpose, the text's theme and/or your sense of the tone. 
FORESHADOWING  In Scene ten when the author briefly changes the scene to the prostitute, male admirer, and Negro woman.  This foreshadows Blanche getting raped by Stanley.
METAPHOR p. 184 “And then the searchlight which had been turned on the world was turned off again and never for one moment since has there been any light that’s stronger than this – kitchen – candle…” 
SYMBOLISM throughout the play, the Varsouviana Polka plays through Blanche's head which symbolizes her unresolved issues behind her homosexual husband's suicide.
EPIGRAPH  And so it was I entered the broken world
To trace the visionary company of love, its voice
An instant in the wind (I know not whither hurled)
But not for long to hold each desperate choice.
– “The Broken Tower” by Hart Crane
PARALLELISM p.163 "He acts like an animal, has an animal’s habits! Eats like one, moves like one, talks like one! There’s something – sub-human – something not quite the stage of humanity yet! Yes, something – ape-like about him, like one of those pictures."
BIBLICAL REFERENCE  The blind are leading the blind: Paraphrase of a verse in Matthew's Gospel in the New Testament of the Bible. Verse 14 of Chapter 15 says that if one person leads another blind person, both will fall into a pit. Blanche speaks this line when Stella leads her away from the poker game. 
ALLUSION  Ghoul-haunted ghostland of Weir: Line from Edgar Allan Poe's 1847 poem "Ulalume," in which the speaker of the poem is attempting to cope with the loss of his love. While looking out a window, Blanche speaks this line, indicating that she is still coping with the loss of Allen Grey.  
CONTRAST Blanche shows up in shimmering white cloths and pearls, but spends the whole book in the darkness.
FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE  Scene 5 "Have got to be seductive - put on soft colours, the colours of butterfly wings, and glow."
IRONY Blanche leaves her lavish, old fashioned life to move to a current and rapidly growing city.  A change like this expected to boost a persons moral and absolve their illuses, but this change only makes her worse.

1.  Describe two examples of direct characterization and two examples of indirect characterization. 
Williams writes "her appearance is incongruous to this setting. She is daintily dressed in a white suit with a fluffy bodice, necklace and earrings of pearl, white gloves and hat, looking as if she were arriving at a summer tea or cocktail party in the garden district." This is an example of direct characterization because the author comes out and states that she is out of place p. 14
In Scene Three, the men sitting around the poker table "wear colored shirts, solid blues, a purple, a red-and-white check, a light green." (...) "they are men at the peak of their physical manhood, as coarse and direct and powerful as the primary colors."  Another form of direct characterization.
An example of indirect characterization is, “When Katie stepped on Ryan’s foot, he pushed her, called her a klutz, and threw her binder out the window.”  Another example is, "Ryan’s a jerk. He’s got a pretty serious anger management problem.”
While reading the play, there are side notes where the author directly characterizes people, but in the play itself there is only indirect characterization because viewers can only see reactions and hear what is said.
2. Does the author's syntax and/or diction change when s/he focuses on character?  How?  
This is a play so the author changes other characters' syntax an diction according to who they are talking to.  For example, Stanley and Blanche talk to each other with resentment, but talk to others in a different tone.
3. Is the protagonist static or dynamic?  Flat or round?  Explain.
Blanche is a dynamic character, she begins the book with lies and false images to convince her sister that she is fine. Later she opens up like a book and tells everyone everything convincing her sister that she is crazy.  She is also round because Blanche grows increasingly mad as the book goes on.
4. After reading the book did you come away feeling like you'd met a person or read a character?  
I feel like I was apart of the storyline because reading direct dialogue makes me feel engaged in the character's conversations.  I feel like I met the characters because I was there for all the events, good and bad.

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