The past on the present - Sample Essay
Blanche also tries to maintain the illusion of youth because she is afraid that she will become less attractive as she ages. She hides from all light, and when Mitch finally realises this (“I don’t think I ever seen you in the light”), he shines a light on her, representing the ‘death’ of her illusions, the possibility of getting married again, or Shep Huntleigh, who is probably a figment of her imagination, inviting her on “a cruise of the Caribbean”. This point is emphasised by the appearance of the Mexican flower vendor shouting “Flores para los muertos”, literally meaning “flowers for the dead”.
However, in her defence, Blanche says “I don’t want realism”, and that she says “what ought to be the truth”, showing that she is still bitter about everything that has happened to her, and that she believes that she should have everything she lost. The Varsouviana is one of the most important dramatic devices which Williams uses to dramatise the influence of the past on the present. It plays whenever Blanche remembers her past in Belle Reve and especially her husband Alan, who she always refers to as a “boy”, emphasising her feeling that they were too young to be married.
When the music first appears, in scene one (“The music of the polka (Varsouviana) rises up”), it is because Stanley asks Blanche if she was married. This immediately shows the audience that the Varsouviana is related to Blanche’s past. Blanche’s reaction to this memory (“the boy died… I’m – going to be sick”) clearly shows that this past was very traumatic, as even the memory of this past is enough to cause severe depression. It also appears in Scene six, when Blanche recalls her husband’s death.
However, this time it is “in a minor key”, further emphasizing how sad and depressing Blanche’s memories of the past are, possibly making the audience feel sympathetic. One instance where the Varsouviana plays an extremely important part in dramatising the influence of the past is near the end, in scene eleven, when the Varsouviana is “filtered into weird distortion accompanied by cries and noises of the jungle”. This represents Blanche’s final descent into madness as her memories of the past (the Varsouviana) become too traumatic.
Williams’ depiction of this strange distorted version of the music is a very effective method of representing this transition. Williams also uses a variety of devices to emphasize the primitiveness of the men in the play. For example, the colours of their shirts which are “solid blue, a purple, a red and white check, a light green”, are raw and unrefined like the men themselves. The colours reflect the men’s nature and lack of subtlety. Williams himself describes them as “coarse and direct and powerful as the primary colours.
” Williams also uses literary devices to show the influence of the past on the present. In scene one, Blanch is told to take a streetcar named Desire, and then transfer to one called Cemeteries and ride six blocks and get off at – Elysian Fields. ” This shows a natural progression from Belle Reve, which symbolizes death, as shown in Blanche’s monologue near the end of scene one, where she says that the “Grim Reaper had put up his tent on our doorstep…
Belle Reve was his headquarters”. From there she goes on to “Cemeteries” an then finally to “Elysian Fields”, which was heaven in Greek mythology. In conclusion, it can be seen that Williams uses a variety of dramatic devices to very good effect to dramatise the influence of the past on the present. He often uses expressionistic devices to emphasise Blanche’s descent into insanity, but also uses a variety of naturalistic devices for the same purpose.