Throughout A Streetcar Named Desire, the style with which Tennessee Williams crafts his work and moulds the intricacies and imaginings of his mind onto the page is intrinsic to the way in which we, as the reader, interpret the play. Scene 10 is the endgame of the underlying tension that sticks to the bitter relationship forged by our two main characters, Stanley and Blanche. Williams employs several linguistic and dramatic techniques to convey this tension, using his protagonist and antagonist as vehicles to epitomise the frustration of a generation trapped in the abyss between conventional gentry and contemporary materialism.
One key technique that Williams utilises to great effect is the depiction of the tragic hero. Throughout the book, Blanche is portrayed as arrogant and vain but, as the play unravels, these traits are seen to be a product of a lifetime of insecurity and calamity. This scarred past fits the happen of the tragic hero and this is finalised in the last three pages of Scene 10, where Blanche’s illusion of grace and feigned innocence is shattered. This is shown by Blanche’s gradual realization of her impending fate, eliciting signs of distress especially when she is on the phone to Western Union. ‘Caught in a trap’ shows that Blanche, although outwardly ignorant to the very end, sub-consciously realizes the end is nigh and is attempting to escape although we, as readers, know that her initiation into the world which Stanley belongs in is inevitable and her endeavours to flee are futile. The hubris of Greek tragedy - the humiliation of an arrogant person - is curiously reversed here, as the vain, self-deluded Blanche acquires tragic stature after her downfall. Stanley's love-making to Stella provides an ironic coda: she had bartered her sister for sexual gratification, and the bargain is now completed.
Another technique is dramatic irony. Dramatic irony is an essential component to the final three pages of Scene 10, and to the book as a whole. Dramatic irony is used as a tool to mould the reader’s interpretation of a character and this is plain to see as Stanley toys with Blanche in the final pages. He says ‘Get by me! Sure. Go ahead’, which shows his careful disintegration of Blanche and highlights his mocking, alluring tone which he has used to ensnare her from the start. This is supported by his scorn for Blanche earlier on in the play, especially his conversation with her about the ‘Napoleonic Code’. The reader immediately smells foul play but Blanche, deluded and blinded by her own vanity, believes it is an attempt at genuine flirtation. This Venus flytrap approach is exploited by Stanley and comes to the fore in Scene 10 as both characters clash spectacularly. Blanche is woefully exposed as foolish, dated and mentally unstable but William’s delineation of Stanley fluctuates from the early scenes. He is initially portrayed as primal and basic but instinctually protective of his belongings. However, as the play progresses, he too is uncovered as crude and pitiless in his brutal, and arguably unnecessary, destruction of Blanche. The reader is elevated above the cruel misgivings of personal gain and gradually understands that, in Stanley’s crusade against Blanche and his eventual ‘victory’, he lowers himself to her level and she is elevated to that of the tragic heroine.
In addition to this, William’s uses plastic theatre, a technique he originally coined to great effect in his writing. Plastic theatre is prominent in the final few pages of Scene 10 as shadows appear around Blanche as she attempts to make her escape. Light represents truth, which Stella wishes to avoid by putting an artificial lantern on the light bulb. Blanche is also never in daylight, as she…