Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Scene 3 is a pivotal dramatic scene.

Comment on the dramatic qualities of the scene and explore how it reveals the increasing tensions of the Kowalski household

Scene 3 is a very dramatic scene where the events highlight the violent, animalistic side to Stanley that will shock the audience and cause them to sympathise with Blanche. Over the course of the poker game, the blue piano’s sound changes from previous scenes, marking the turbulent emotional shifts of action onstage.

The scene opens with a poker game, where Stanley is evidently the dominant figure that gives all the orders, “Ante up!” His actions in the game – playing even when he is losing – highlights his taking of risks and his quality of not being afraid to cross any borders. The alcohol in this scene shows that any inhibition he does have, will be released and the extent of his “power” will be shown later in the scene when he hits his wife. His sense of “territory” is felt even more pertinently here as he is possessive and controlling of his friends. However, when accompanied by Blanche, Stella is not controlled by him, and even tries to order him to “call it quits after one hand,” which he naturally resents. His slap on her thigh angers her and pushes her closer to Blanche and away from her, which creates further frustration for Stanley, who feels he must show Stella who is “boss”, and does this through violence.

In previous scenes, the difference between Blanche and Stanley was just a clash of opposites in culture. However, from this scene, Blanche is shown as more of a threat to Stanley – in all aspects. This begins with her turning music on despite his demanding for “hush.” When Blanche turns the music on again, she is purposely going against Stanley’s orders, which has catastrophic results and foreshadow what will happen to her later on. When he throws out the white radio, this is symbolic of what he would like to do Blanche, and shows the extent of the tension between Stanley and Blanche.

Another way in which she challenges his him is when she attempts to intrudes on the game, “Could I kibitz?” at which he rudely replies “You could not”, making it clear that she is unwanted. However, Blanche ignores his desire for quiet for the game, and chooses to flirt freely with Mitch, provoking Stanley further. The bond she forms with Mitch, where she uses her guile to win his attention, “Is there an inscription? I can’t make it out”, distracts him from the game – Stanley’s game, and this further establishes her as a figure competing against Stanley, which increases his annoyance at her. Her superficial behaviour, “Two is my limit” and unashamed flirtation with him establishes a connection between them, which is torn apart by Stanley’s animal behaviour, and Mitch’s comment that “Poker shouldn’t be played in a house with women” shows that he is perhaps sympathising with Blanche and moving further away from Stanley.

However, the main thing that Blanche challenges Stanley for his Stella. In the presence of her sister, Stella behaves differently, and the two women are comfortable and sisterly around each other, “One time – the – plaster cracked!”, much to the chagrin of Stanley. Stella’s anger and attack on Stanley after his destroying the radio “Drunk, drunk, animal thing, you!” shows that she, too, is taking on authority. Stanley feels he must dominate her through violence.

Stanley’s behaviour in this scene gives him an even closer resemblance to an “animal” than before. His “impatience” with the game echoes that of a hungry animal, and the way in which his friends “speak lovingly and quietly” to him after his attack shows their level of respect, distinguishing him clearly as “leader of the pack.” In the climactic moment where he hits Stella, it is as if the tensions of the scene are released in an act of “animalistic” violence, and the bellow “STELL-AH!” is like a beast calling for the return for his mate. Blanche is the only thing standing between his mate, and she is in his way throughout this scene. A “wolf” like Stanley will want to right this, and the increasing anger, frustration and dislike of Blanche felt by him throughout the scene is shown in his action, where the audience will anticipate a terrible action.

The conflicts and contrasts are highlighted by the use of colour imagery. The “lurid nocturnal brilliance” of the poker game accentuates the gaudiness of Stanley’s friends and the ways they act and speak. There is also a stark contrast in the “solid blues” of Stanley’s friends showing that they are manly, primal and direct people and a different blue of the “light blue satin kimono” of Blanche’s, showing her delicacy and elegance. Here are a group of very different people, where Stella is the only undecided character. Even the white of the “white radio” is symbolic of Blanche’s purity, and the destruction of it is like the emotional breakdown of Blanche later. Also, while conversing with Mitch, Blanche describes the naked light as “rude” and “vulgar”, because they reveal her true age. This sly piece of deception by Blanche creates mystery surrounding her character amidst a scene that is dominated by Stanley.

In the same way, the music contributes greatly to the drama of this scene. Discordant sounds play as the violence heightens, and the “dissonant” brass and piano reflect the harsh, abrasive actions of Stanley in the scene. Similarly, when the clarinet “moans”, this is reflective of the emotional cry of Stanley for Stella.

The violence escalates throughout the scene and each act of violence carried out by Stanley symbolises his growing dislike of Blanche and the tension between them. It starts with the slap on Stella’s thigh, which is indecent and crude, but his way of showing that she “belongs” to him. Next is the turning off the radio, where he catches Blanche’s eye and she “returns it without flinching,” which emphasises the friction between the two characters. Then he “tosses” the radio out of the window, destroying it in the way the audience feels he would like to destroy Blanche. And finally, is his attack on Stella, where he “charges” after her, showing his similarity to an animal again. The attack on his wife shows a release of all his anger, and the anger is targeted at Blanche for her behaviour in the scene.

From Stanley’s abusive actions in this scene, the audience, like Blanche, are left confused when Stella returns to him, as the audience are likely to feel that Blanche’s gentle nature is more suited to Stella than Stanley’s roughness is. Their reunion, which is itself quite animal in the “animal moans”, is sexual as well, showing the level of passion in the Kowalski’s relationship. The “tender” actions described in this reunion also show the depth of love felt between the couple, and the quietness of the scene is a huge contrast from the previous volume of the poker game. The main thing that Blanche challenges Stanley for – Stella, has chosen him at even after his violence, showing that, maybe, at the end of this scene he has “won” the game.

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