Explore the methods Williams uses to create dramatic tension for an audience in 'A Streetcar Named Desire'.

Essay by SteftacularA-, February 2003

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Williams creates dramatic tension in 'A Streetcar Named Desire' through the interactions between the important characters in the play, such as the conflict between Blanche and Stanley, and their contrasting styles of communication. The first instance of this occurs in the second scene. Blanche is bathing, whilst Stanley questions Stella about the loss of Belle Reve, referring to the so-called "Napoleonic code". As an audience, we sense the tension being created when he says "And I don't like to be swindled." We see Stanley's aggressive nature and his increasing anger towards Blanche through his actions and words, "Open your eyes to this stuff!" When Stella cries, "Don't be such an idiot, Stanley", he becomes even more enraged, "[he hurls the furs to the daybed]" and "[he kicks the trunk]". Tension is created here and, as an audience, we sense the drama that is about to come. The atmosphere is tense, and as Blanche comes out of the bathroom antithetically "[airily]", the contrast between Stanley and Blanche becomes apparent and the unease is developed further.

Although Williams successfully achieves dramatic tension in the play, he does not use Acts, but divides the play into eleven scenes, perhaps because he was unable to sustain dramatic tension for the length of a conventional Act. However, as with all of the scenes in the play, this scene leads to a natural, dramatic climax. Blanche talks casually with Stanley, who's increasing fury is illustrated in the stage direction, "[with a smouldering look]". Finally, the tension is released by Stanley, "[booming] Now let's cut the re-bop!" This dramatic cry and instantaneous discharge of tension shocks the audience, but Blanche appears unmoved, speaking "[lightly]", "My but you have an impressive judicial air" and acting "[playfully]" towards Stanley. Her contrasting manner further infuriates him, again resulting...