A Streetcar Named Desire Argumentative Essay Sample
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A Streetcar Named Desire Argumentative Essay Sample
In many ways Streetcar takes a very untraditional approach to its tragic aspects and follows the more modern domestic tragedies however it does still follow many of the aspects of a classical tragedy according to Aristotle. Aristotle’s aspects begins with the hero starting in a high position, whilst Blanche is not in a high position she does act as if she is by looking down on Stella’s home. But aspects such as the unity of time, place and action as well as the redemption of the hero are almost completely ignored.
This doesn’t make it a failure however as particularly with the redemption of the hero these things often turn the play into more of a tragedy; it begins to feel a little more real and relatable this makes life itself seem more like a tragedy and you resign yourself to the idea that the story has no end to it because the tragedy of life will never end. One of Aristotle’s aspects that we see quite greatly throughout the play is that of the hubris and the hamartia which is the fatal flaw that causes their downfall.
Blanche has many flaws but her hamartia is her delusions, she tells Mitch how she ‘doesn’t want realism’ and how she’ll even ‘tell [people] what ought to be truth. ‘ It’s this that causes Stanley’s mistrust of her and – at least in part – what causes her own insanity, she begins to believe her own lies. As this is happening we do question its truth or whether she was insane all along, this causes much of the confusion over whether or not the audience is able to sympathise with the character.
However the fact that we cannot tell if she is insane is itself quite tragic, you begin to see how easily the lines blend. It isn’t until scene ten that we see the extent of her madness and what seemed subtle before now becomes incredibly obvious, to an audience this previous ambiguity makes it even more tragic because you were unable to see how disturbed Blanche is. Aspects of tragedy plague most of the characters of the play, because of these “characters of great complexity and ambiguity; we as readers find our allegiances growing more tangled as the play unfolds”.
In the case of Stella staying with Stanley and sending Blanche away it is arguable that she thought Blanche to be insane and a liar. As such Blanche could be excused of her wrong doings because of her insanity which seems to be caused by the deaths and despair of her past. It’s this inability to find where the fault lies that is the largest cause of people believing it as a failure as a tragedy; as traditionally you would have the classic ‘hero’ of the story.
Blanche is in fact the ‘hero’ of the play as she is the main character we are following; however her actions and the result of them reject the traditional aspects of heroism in plays. All of this only cause to enhance the tragic aspects as in life there are two side to every story and whilst some people may side with one person someone else may side with another. This rings true of Streetcar and is because there is no purity in character, it’s not black and white as good people have done bad things and bad people have done good things putting them all on the same level.
Again this is because this is how people are in real life, in a classic play it would tell one tale of thousands within a person’s life and paint that person in a certain light for that tale, however Streetcar is devoid of the good and the bad as life is, all people do both. According to Todorov’s theory of narrative any story should have: a state of equilibrium; a disruption of this equilibrium; recognition of this disruption; an attempt to repair this; and finally comes the reinstatement of the equilibrium.
From this theory several views can be made; the first that it does follow this theory and we begin with Stanley and Stella in the state of equilibrium living happily whilst Blanche’s arrival and deceit becomes the disruption. The recognition would then be Stanley discovering Blanche’s lies, as the attempt at repair would be Blanche trying to leave, and finally the reinstatement as Blanche is taken away. However it could also appear that the narrative of Streetcar is almost in the wrong order beginning in the middle of the stages of disruption and ending long after or possibly before the reinstatement creating a completely new tragedy.
As Blanche is the hero we could presume that we follow her story in which case the disruption of her own story appears to be when she discovers that her husband if gay. From this point she has taken on more and more tragedy throughout her life that causes her insanity. The recognition of the disruption could be seen at many points such as when she was removed from Belle Reve or as she was staying at The Flamingo, or even later on when we see Blanche’s insanity.
It could also be argued that the real tragedy of the play is that there is no recognition of disruption due to Blanche’s insanity she is stuck in the same cycle of delusion and cannot get out. The ambiguity of the play can often accentuate its nature as the mind can create far worse situations than in reality. This is proven in the 1951 adaptation of the play as “by just cutting the too ‘explicit’ scenes it was not possible to eliminate the underlying ideas. ” For example, in the text Stella stays with Stanley despite her suspicions that Blanche was telling the truth of his actions.
However in the film Stella is show to run up the stairs and leave Stanley, despite her actions because of scenes earlier in the play in which she leaves Stanley but still returns to him, it is implied that she will still return to him now. This is also true for Stanley and Blanche’s rape scene as we do not see anything more the Blanche in Stanley’s forced embrace, however what our mind can create is far worse than what could have been shown in the film. In this scene the mirror breaking seems to show that Blanche is broken in mind and spirit which further enhances this scene and its tragic aspects.
Catharsis is another of the many common themes that enter a tragedy, however there is very little of this in Streetcar. It is common that at the end of a tragedy there will be a feeling of catharsis that uplifts the audience; this was attempted in the 1951 adaptation of Streetcar as the times called for an at least seemingly happy ending, however as the cast and crew wished to stay as true to the text as possible they created the setting so that the ‘intelligent viewer’ would assume the tragic resignation that is seen in the text.
This lack of one of the major themes of classic tragedy is another reason why it is called a failure as a tragedy. This resigned idea that life goes on in the same tragic way as the contents of the play and that there is no real ending to the tragedy seems to enhance the actions of the play to the audience as you feel as though it will never stop. It’s ‘the long parade to the graveyard’ instead of having the normal catharsis you feel as though we are just in a constant stream of tragedy that can only end in death of one kind or another.