Since this semester is busy, I decided to review some of my required works from class, so I can post more than every few weeks. Ideally, I’d like to be getting a review a week up; but who knows? University is a fun ride.

For one of my English classes, we just read A Streetcar Named Desire, and since it’s a format that’s easy to get through, I finished it in one day. I have the edition with the forward by Arthur Miller—his insights made more and more sense as I traveled further into the story. One point he makes is that this play is more “from the soul” than many works from that time. Definitely.

One thing Tennessee Williams does really well is starting the conflict from the first scene. In a lot of plays I’ve read, the action takes a few scenes to pick up; but these characters seem chemically engineered to react to one another, and Williams wastes no time in setting that up.

Throughout the plot, the setting and mood contribute to the artistic impression the reader is left with on the last page. Yes, they help the rising action; but they do more. Things like the music, inside and outside; the details about the apartment and clothes; even minor characters who play poker or sell things—everything combines to convey a tangible vibe. I felt truly immersed in this little world because of these masterful details.

The plot twists are significant: I admire the subtlety Williams uses in slipping them in—it’s a technique that, after delivering one twist, makes it clear in hindsight that it’d been coming for a while.

I think the main strength was the fallible nature and complexity of the characters. Our class has had lengthy discussion on their interactions, attitudes toward each other, and the vices or personality flaws that render them so interesting. In fact, my classmates disagree on who’s really the antagonist.

It’s a relatively quick read, though you may want to have an upbeat playlist on hold for when you finish it. 😉

Has anyone else read Streetcar Named Desire? Or, what’s on your reading list for this semester?

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