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Williams: A Streetcar Named Desire

4. Scene 3

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About this Lecture


In this lecture, we provide a close reading and analysis of Scene 3 of the play, focusing in particular on: (i) the various types of masculinity on display in this scene, including the contrast between Stanley and Mitch; (ii) the recurrence of the poker game in Scene 11; (iii) the contrast between male and female, masculinity and femininity; (iv) the importance of light and colour in this scene, from the “lurid nocturnal brilliance” with which it begins to Blanche’s insistence of covering the naked bulb with a Chinese lantern; (v) the use of bird imagery in this scene and in the play as a whole; (vi) the affected way that Blanche speaks to Mitch (“The Little Boys’ Room is busy right now”); (vii) the contrast between Blanche and Stanley, childlessness and motherhood; (viii) the use of animal imagery in this scene and in the play as a whole (“Is he a wolf?”); and (ix) the themes of sorrow and kindness (“The little there is belongs to people who have experienced some sorrow”, “I need kindness now”).


In this course, we explore Tennessee Williams’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play, ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’. The first module provides some historical and literary context for the play; we introduce Tennessee Williams himself, and think about what kind of person he was, before focusing on what life was like in the South United States in the late 1940s, when the play was written. In the remaining modules, we go through each of the play’s eleven scenes one-by-one, providing close reading of key moments throughout the play.


John McRae is Special Professor of Language in Literature Studies and Teaching Associate in the School of English at Nottingham University, and holds Visiting Professorships in China, Malaysia, Spain and the USA. He is co-author of The Routledge History of Literature in English with Ron Carter, and also wrote The Language of Poetry, Literature with a Small 'l' and the first critical edition of Teleny by Oscar Wilde and others.

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Cite this Lecture

APA style

McRae, J. (2018, August 15). Williams: A Streetcar Named Desire - Scene 3 [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McRae, J. "Williams: A Streetcar Named Desire – Scene 3." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,

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