A Streetcar Named Desire

The film A Streetcar Named Desire is an adaptation of the famous Broadway play of the same title, written by Tennessee Williams. It tells of an unpretentious “drama of real human beings.” (Time Magazine, 1951). The story’s nostalgic, bitter and deep take on the lives of its characters shows the influence made by at least three literary genres, namely, poetic realism, traditional tragedy, and symbolism.

Poetic realism was known as a French film movement involving movies that revolve on a marginalized character who end always ends up in disappointment. This genre has a signature taste of nostalgia, bitterness, and representational quality, which lends it a “heightened aestheticism.” (Wikipedia, 2006). Pursuant to this literary tradition, A Streetcar Named Desire centers on the story of a “fate-battered Southern belle in the last agonies of degradation.” Blanche Du Bois is shown as a woman struggling to deal with many drawbacks in her life, including deaths in the family, and the loss of her fortune and husband. (Time Magazine, 1951). Classical, or traditional tragedy, on the other hand, assumes that the world where human beings find themselves in is full of irresolvable conflicts, specifically those involving man’s desires and the world that is beyond the human realm. (Newton, 2004). In the film, traces of traditional tragedy are apparent, especially in the situation where Blanche finds herself in. She fights, quite unsuccessfully, to resolve her conflict with the world and with another character, Kowalski. (Time Magazine, 1951).

Symbolism is another literary genre that had an influence on the film A Streetcar Named Desire. Symbolism employs symbols, or signs, which stand for a deeper or an entirely different meaning. (Signs, Symbols, Meaning, & Interpretation). The depressing plot of the movie and the portrayal of the characters by the actors in the film symbolize “the contest between genteel civility and crude lower-class vitality,” as Tenesse Williams himself probably imagined. (Time Magazine, 2005).