A Streetcar Named Desire
by Tennessee Williams
Take a story's temperature by studying its tone. Is it hopeful? Cynical? Snarky? Playful?
What we’re getting at here in our discussion of "Tone" is Williams’s attitude toward his protagonist, Blanche DuBois. We admit that Blanche comes off as quite silly for a good chunk of the text (spraying Stanley with her perfume, flirting with the men at the poker table), but it’s actually more tear-jerking than laughable. We feel bad for her – and probably embarrassed on her behalf. The rape in Scene Ten and the broken-down Blanche in Scene Eleven is what really drives the point home, and what convinces us that the play takes a sympathetic approach – not a ridiculing one – to this fading Southern belle.