Discuss the importance of the past in Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire.
Whichever prompt you choose, make sure that your essay contains an introductory paragraph with a clear thesis statement, as well as body paragraphs that support your thesis by analyzing quotations from the play. You should also include a brief concluding paragraph. No secondary sources, please. All of your writing should be based on your own, original analysis of quotes from the play.
Option #1) Discuss the importance of the past in Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire. You might consider the past by analyzing how a particular character relates to their own past, such as how and why they represent or misrepresent their past, and how memories or fantasies of the past affects their interactions and relationships with other characters. Or, alternatively, you could reflect on how the play represents the tension between old and new values in American culture. How does the play represent and/or critique America’s vision of its own past.
Option #2) Do you agree that the relationship of Blanche and Stanley, as it develops throughout the play, is simply one of victim and villain? If not, why not? What kinds of complexities is Tennessee Williams trying to explore through the Blanche-Stanley relationship?
Option #3) Does Stella ultimately choose Stanley over her sister? If so, why does she make this choice?
Option #4) Compare the different masculinities of Stanley, Mitch, and Allan. Alternatively, you might reflect on how Blanche and Stella represent different styles (or stereotypes) of femininity. What does the play have to say about gender issues in American society? How does the play intertwine themes of gender expression/identity with scenes of violence?
Option #5) What concerns about American society does Tennessee Williams articulate in A Streetcar Named Desire? Be specific in identifying the play’s concerns and use plenty of textual evidence to support your claims.
Essay Guidelines and Requirements
Length: 750-1000 words (3-4 pages)
Formatting: MLA (12 point Times New Roman or equivalent font, double spaced, 1-inch margins, works cited page)
Your essay should have:
An introductory paragraph that establishes the author(s) and title(s) that you plan to analyze, as well as any context/information that the reader will need to understand your thesis statement. Your thesis statement should be the very *last* sentence (or two sentences) of your introductory paragraph. Everything you write in your intro should lead up to your thesis. Don’t include anything that is not relevant to your thesis. (See below for more information on how to format your thesis statement. I care A LOT about the thesis statement. An essay without an effective thesis statement will receive a low grade).
2-3 body paragraphs, in which you develop and defend your thesis by “close reading” quotations from the text(s). Each body paragraph should be focused around a central idea or point that you need to establish in order to defend your thesis. Do not try to cover many different points in the same paragraph. Also, avoid giving lengthy summaries of what’s happening in the text. (1-2 sentences of summary is sometimes necessary in a body paragraph, but you can assume your reader is pretty familiar with the text. Don’t waste space re-hashing everything). Instead, in each body paragraph, you should focus your attention on a specific aspect of your thesis that needs to be established. Provide quotations in support of your idea, and spend time going into a lot of detail analyzing (“close reading”) the specific words, phrases, and formal devices in the quotations. Clearly explain how your analysis of the quotation relates to your thesis statement. Another important tip: Never end a body paragraph with a quotation! Always end the paragraph by explicitly stating how the language in the quotation supports your thesis statement (in other words, you want to end each paragraph by centering your own voice and your own interpretation/thesis, not the voice of the author).
A concluding paragraph that summarizes your essay’s argument and offers any additional insight or reflection that didn’t fit into the more tightly focused body paragraphs