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Everyone is very masculine or feminine, with very defined ways of being. The clothing worn accentuates this, with Blanche wearing ironic virginal white, while the men wear the strong, bold colours that Blanche considers manly. The minor characters reinforce the gender stereotypes.
What associations does Williams provide to make us see that these characters are stereotypes?
This is a mixed race area, and not very prosperous. The minor character of the negro woman is given no status, which echoes how racist perceptions would categorise her, for example in the very plantation setting that Stella and Blanche have left. Stella represents a union with a race other than her own, which led to a fall in her status as she left Belle Reve. However, the whole plantation has collapsed and Blanche's prospects with it. No one prospers.
Blanche desires a return to the plantation land of Belle Reve as it was before death and decay set in. As 'Belle Reve' stands for 'Beautiful Dream', the name emphasises that the idea of a perfect Belle Reve is stronger than the actuality.
What does the theme of dream and reality add to the play?
In what ways does Williams show the tensions between both?
Why does Belle Reve cease to exist?
Stella and Stanley resent the interruption that Blanche brings, infringing upon their privacy. This must create tensions between them, and also between each of them and Blanche. There is also a constant threat of violence which breeds from this tension.
Williams builds tension through the interaction of the main characters and through his setting and stage direction.
What are the elements that add to the tension of the play?
The colloquial language used by Stanley contrasts with the language that Blanche and Stella use and illustrates their different upbringings. Blanche responds more positively to more formal introductions: this is seen when Stella introduces her to Stanley's friend, and also when the doctor speaks to her in the last scene: she responds more positively to a more formal address. Music is also an important reflection of Blanche's insecurities, and is used as a symbol of her state of mind.
Names in this text show how the characters are, or how they would want to be, Blanche Dubois, for example, takes delight in her name's definition 'White Wood', suggesting perhaps a mysterious place where she exists as a clean and pure person. Stella is associated with stars.
In what ways does the difference in language use display the conflict between the characters?
Bright light revealing the truth, or decay