Scene 10

Nearng the end, we linked the structure of the play to Freytag’s Pyramid (of tragedy) and discussed the nature of the play’s climax.

Syndetic: overuse of ‘and’ in a list instead of comma

Aphorism: an observation that has truth/can be proven

Mental deterioration

  • Her dress — stark contrast as to how she was dressed in scenes 1 and 9
    • Fluffy white bodyce — innocent, virgin, pure
    • Now: soiled, crumpled — she’s been corrupted and tainted. Ironic because she escaped Laurel to get away from all the bad past, but it just brings about her downfall.
      • We now no longer believe she’s pure and dainty like we did in scene 1, because the past has been drip-fed throughout the play
  • (Hand) mirror: symbolises her reality and what she’s truly like, her true age — the reflection is not the fantasy she’s living in.
    • ‘As if murmuring to a spectral of admirers’: plunges further into her fantasy rather than coming to terms. World of illusion —> link to quicksand in previous scene?
  • Rhinestone: imitation of diamond. Symbolises Blanche’s speech.
  • ‘Moonlight swim’ — skinny-dipping? Purifying, bathing.
    • ‘If anyone’s sober enough to drive’ — her fantasy is to be happily drunk, always a party/drinking atmosphere. The state of being tipsy is ideal for her.
    • ‘To stop your head from buzzing’ — to stop the noise in her head
    • ‘Moonlight’ — light and dark, concealing. Connect to light symbolism. Her idea of deception, hiding from bright light.
    • ‘Only you’ve got to be careful’ — even Blanche’s fantasies contain dark echoes, talking about death even in her fantasy. She’s weary of it?
  • Lots of punctuation and structure used, laughing out loud etc. Adds more to the chaotic nature of her speech.
  • The fantasy about the Caribbean — as if she’s trying to save her pride. Not getting kicked out, she’s leaving from her own will
    • Stanley knows that it’s not real diamonds now, it’s all just an act.
    • A symbol of the gulf between appearance and reality

General notes

  • Mirror:
    • Glass cracking — superstition that if you break glass, 7 years’ bad luck. Foreshadowing.
    • Desire linked to violence. Lots of sexual undertones, foreshadowing what’s going to take place
      • Stanley whistling, Blanche moaning.
      • Stanley slamming the door
  • Honky-tonk music: common in bars etc. Cheap, garish-sounding music. Not very sophisticated.
  • Contrast in attire:
    • Stanley, silk bowling shirt and Blanche.
  • Sinister reference back to end of scene 9:
    • ‘Mitch turns and runs around the corner…’ ‘Stanley coming around the corner…’ parallelism. As if Mitch couldn’t fulfill the act of raping her, and Stanley can.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Stanley, in general, is very mocking:
      • some quotes p.91
      • ‘A fireman’s ball’ — low-class
      • ATO — Fraternity group in American college (Alpha Tau Omega)
      • Finishes her sentence, he knows her lies, knows what she’s trying to do
    • ‘Does that mean we are to be alone here?’ ‘yep. Just me and you blanche’
    • ‘Somebody under your bed’ — hints at her promiscuity
    • He unbuttons his shirt. Before, he asks if she’s okay with it. Contrast to how he was beforehand, at first he’s insecure but now he knows the truth.
    • ‘This is all I’m undressing right now’: foreshadowing
    • Beer bottle opening: symbol of tension bubbling over
  • Story about front teeth — hinting that when he’s done with Blanche, it’ll be like she lost her front teeth (beauty)
    • Different in previous scene when he says he doesn’t know any ‘refined enough for her taste’
  • ‘Hands knotted together, moves slowly towards dresses’
    • Knotted = rope. like she’s trapped, tied into the situation. Prey/predator.
    • Shows she’s nervous, and scared, like she senses
  • Idioms:
    • ’Burying the hatchet’ — means to make peace/truce. She has to pay something in return?
    • ‘Red-letter night’ — lucky night. In the Roman Republic, important days marked in red in calendars.
  • Stanley crouches, and opens the drawer, Blanche draws back
    • Crouch: animalistic, brutish
    • Blanche: an automatic response, as if in fear. mounting tension. Here, Blanche fears Stanley
    • ‘Brilliant, like a waving flag’ — Blanche is afraid of the light
    • ‘Won’t interfere with your privacy any?’ — subtle reference to sexual relations
  • Blanche’s speech — trying to convince herself. (SHE’S SAYING SANE THINGS!!)
    • Syndetic, emphasise things
    • What she desires; wants someone to respect her and not see her as a sexual object
    • Beauty — ironic that she says it’s ‘transitory’, when it’s a big part of her hamartia; she’s obsessed with how she looks, doesn’t reveal her true age, stays in the dark etc.
    • ‘Having great wealth sometimes makes people lonely!’: aphorism?
    • We can tell Blanche has a lot to offer, and she has great awareness. But she’s selling herself short/cheaply.
    • ‘Throwing pearls before swine’ (Biblical reference, Matthew 7, Verse 6) giving precious things to people who don’t deserve it.
      • Lots of references to materialistic wealth, ‘rich’ ‘treasures’ etc. to emphasise the qualities she has to sell
  • Blanche lying (VERY INSANE THINGS!!)
    • Makes the audience get frustrated since she’s still living in the fantasy
    • Williams doesn’t make the characters clear-cut, so realistic
  • Series of interjections conveying Blanche’s disintegration
    • Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) — research!
      • Blanche is of a French descent, so he mocks her ancestry.
      • Making fun of the outfit, saying it’s sold for cheap. Saying French tradition is tacky
        • But in the beginning he believed it was true
    • ‘Oh!’ doesn’t deny it, shattering her fantasies one at a time. He represents reality.
      • Could be a physical pain, or her inability to respond
    • ‘Queen of the Nile, Egypt’ — like Blanche is some foreign invasion
      • Sophisticated references from Stanley?
  • Before rape
    • Lurid, menacing, grotesque — shows how much Stanley has affected her. Because of her fantasies (which are supposed to be nice) turns into a nightmare
    • Prostitute and drunkard. Stanley gaining pleasure from it: pushes her to her tipping point. (Allude to the immorality and the dodgy-ness of the quarter)
    • Hints of insanity:
      • Mention of Shep Huntleigh again (at this point readers know he’s made up)
      • Phone, actually not calling
      • Transparent wall — readers + those in the play see the truth about her, and she no longer has protection from reality (the outdoors). She sees escape, but is entrapped.
      • Simile: like cries in a jungle
  • Sound of locomotive: from the blue piano. Stanley (locomotive) is now unstoppable. Climax of her insanity, unstoppable.
    • Train: reality. Breaking through, can’t hide from it, chasing her.
  • Unable to escape Stanley’s dominating masculinity.
    • ‘Biting his tongue which protrudes between his lips.’ Biblical reference: snakes usually symbolise evil.
  • Uses the bottle to try and defend herself — like her last resort is always alcohol, always to escape.
    • Shows how little she has left to clutch on, that she’s resorting to a broken bit of glass
  • Ultimate, last way that a male can showcase dominance; ‘I can do this to you and you’ve got no choice’
    • Here Stanley doesn’t do it because he’s confused whether she likes him or not — he just does it for his own pleasure
  • ‘We’ve had this date with each other from the beginning’ — right from the start, the cards were marked. Inevitable. 
    • ‘Tiger, tiger’ — he sees her as a sexual predator.
  • ‘Sinks to her knees…inert figure’ — she’s given up, surrender, not fighting back anymore.
  • ‘Trumpet and drums’ — victory music
    • Sound comes from the Four Deuces, a bar — she’s completely corrupted by the environment
  • Why does he rape Blanche?
    • Mark his territory, everything in that house is his. He broke everything in the house — lol.
    • Stanley represents everything that Blanche is trying to escape from, he represents everything she finds unacceptable e.g. his brutality. The fact that a man like that rapes her makes it even more unacceptable.

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