March 17, 2004

I Can See It. Can you?

In my opinion Tennesee Williams made it so that the symbolism within "A StreetCar Named Desire" would be apparent. It isnt hard for the reader to point out the meaning of some of the colors, objects and quotes meanings throught and it my opinion that is what makes the story and is also mostly what it is comprised of.
Like I said before, the symbolism in A StreetCar named desire can be broken down easily. Not suprisingly, most of the subjects in these parts can be directly related to Blanche.
Beginning in the first couple pages in the book we see Phallic Symbols. First when Stanley throws the piece of meat up at Stella and she meerly laughs at it. The meat is suppose to represent "her sexual infatuation for him." And it shows the hold that Stanley has on Stella as far and the sexual aspect of their marriage goes because we see later on, after Stanley hits Stella that she takes one look at him and runs right back into his arms.
Some other Phallic symbols that stands more for power, more than anything are, bowling, the poker games, where usually alot of babaric type of tendencies are apparent and there is also usually a large amount of drinking. These are symbols of the dominace of the male person. In one scene Blanche asks if she could play poker and Stanley was extremely quit to tell her no. This represented how a woman might evade on a man's dominance. Stanley became threatened by this. It was the same scenario when Stella asked about going bowling with Stanley. Stella automatically knows to ask to come and watch and not to ask to play.
Alot of symbolism presents itself within the first couple pages of the story. When Blanche is looking for the house she says "They told me to take a StreetCar Named Desire and then transfer to one called Cememteries
and ride six blocks and get off at Elysian Fields(p 15) ." The journey that Blance takes to arrive at Stella's house represents her journey to her new starting point. Wanting to leave the past behind Blanche ventures out and goes through the obstacles it takes to begin over. Belle Reve, the home that she had known all of her life but lost, means, Beautiful Dream. A reader could take her journey a number of different ways. One could say that Blanche was forced to leave Belle Reeve, which was her beautiful dream take a streetcar that represented her desire to want a new life and the only one could do that is to die (Streetcar named Cemeteries) and be reborn again. Or one could say that it means that Blanche wanted desire so much (Streetcar) , she wanted it so much that it killed her (Cemeteries) inside, and left in a sort of world of nothingness (Elysian Fields).
There were a couple of symbols that needed little to know explaination because thet were so apparent. For example the lighting. The lamp shade that Blance brought to cover the naket light bulb was representative her covering herself. Any and lights within the play meant truth and reality, which is something that Blanch shunned and didnt long for.
The Varsouvania Music, that played in Blanche' head, along with the gunshot that finished it off, was obviously representative of Blanche young husband who died of a self inflicted gunshit wound. That music always seemed to play when any talk of past or a relationship was talked about.
The constant bathing, the reader later learns, it is due to Blanche wanting to be cleansed of her past, meaning all the men who she had had sexual encounters with. Readers notice that Blanche constant bathes and she tells Stella it is to calm her nerves. Bathing give Blanche not only a cleansed feeling but also a reknowned since of self. In one scene she says "....all freshly bathed and scented, feeling like a brand new human being."
The symbols in this book helped alot in determining the background of each character, but the dialect spoke louder than any one of the symbolic pieces. Blanche is usually the one who is extremely transparent through what she says. For example in the scene with Mitch and Stella she says, "I dont want realism, I want magic. I dont tell tht truth, I tell what ought to be the truth." This quote shows readers the reasoning behind all of her sugar coating (besides the fact that she is mentally unstable).
Another important quote that speaks volumes is "My birthday is next month, the fifteenth of Sept, thats under Virgo. Virgo is the Virgin." For anyone who has read the book this quote is very self explanatory. This quotes implies that Blanche is trying to make herself look and seem like a virgin. She says so in this quote and does so in her actions. Throughout the story she is desribed as wearing many white and pastel colors. White represents purity, which is something that Blanche longed to be but couldnt anymore.
Throught out A Streetcar Named Desire we find many symbols that challenge us to think. I am glad they are there because in my opinion the book who have been plain and dry without them.

Posted by Carla Rae Jackson at March 17, 2004 05:51 PM
Comments

Pardon me, Carla Rae, but how in the hell are bowling, poker, and drinking phallic symbols? (direct quote from your Mouthing Off!! entry: "Some other Phallic symbols that stands more for power, more than anything are, bowling, the poker games, where usually alot of babaric type of tendencies are apparent and there is also usually a large amount of drinking") I never knew that when I bowled, played poker and drank that I was just flaunting phallic symbols all over the place.

HAHA, now that I think about it, I have bowled, drank and played poker in the same night.

Posted by: Anthony Gigliotti at March 18, 2004 05:17 PM

Oh Carla Rae, these boys will never learn.

I could see where you were going with the whole phallic symbol thing, CLEARLY you weren't referring to the items as resembling -well you know-, but were instead using the phrase phallic symbol to signify male power and male dominance. Am I right?

I think Tony was just trying to make trouble...boys will be boys, I suppose.

It did make for an interesting discussion though, haha... I LOVE IT! Good job!

-Mel :)

Posted by: Mel at March 25, 2004 11:34 PM
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