“A Streetcar Named Desire” and “Appropriate” Comparison

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Portraying the use of anger can come in many fashions in plays, one of the most common is verbal, and another being physical. Two plays that portray anger are A Streetcar Named Desire, and Appropriate. The use of anger in these plays are used through verbal language, and non-verbal body language, as well as physical anger that is violence.

In the play Appropriate, the use of verbal language is very apparent in the sense that curse words are often used as an enhancement tool to create an atmosphere of true anger between the characters in the play. The character known as Toni, is the oldest sibling of three, in her late forties or early fifties, and is one of, if not the angriest character in this play. Toni directs most of her anger at her younger sibling whose name is Franz. Franz is the younger brother of these three siblings, and who has always been estranged from his brother and sister and he hasn’t seen his brother and sister in ten years. He shows up with his now fiancé named River, to come apologize for any wrong doings he may have done to his siblings. The only reason they have come together is to help auction off their recently deceased father’s plantation house in Arkansas. When Toni saw that Franz was at the estate unexpectedly, she gets furious with Franz. The beginning of the play sets the tone for the rest of the play when Toni yells at Franz. Why is Toni yelling at Franz? Franz and River come to his father’s plantation house sneaking through the window, and when Toni comes downstairs, the next sentence you hear is from Toni saying, “Frank?! What in fuck’s sake is going on? What are you doing here?” (p.16). Followed by a couple more lines with Franz telling Toni to calm down and saying that it is nice to see her again, and she responds with a yelling, “Oh shut up Frank. You shut the hell up. It is not nice to see you right now. Where have you been for the last … Did you know our father is dead?!” (p.16). Toni is clearly angry at Franz in this scene and continues throughout the play. The use of verbal language to portray anger is evident. Verbal language being used in Appropriate is constant and unforgiving, and there is no holding back in what the characters are saying. Toni demonstrates that very well throughout this play, as well as other characters. This escalades further when a photo album of a bunch of photos of black men getting by the Ku Klux Klan owned by their father. Because Rachel and Bo’s son Ainsley saw these pictures, they were both furious at the fact that Bo’s father had these lying around. “Can we hurry up and get rid of these things? It’s bad enough my kid’s been exposed to this bullshit once” says Bo (p.27). Again, language is used as a tool to show anger, curse words are often used in the sense of emphasizing a character’s emotion, and if were replaced with non-curse words the tone of the line can be mis-interpreted by the audience or reader. It’s a fine line between acting upset, or angry.

Another form of anger is physical. The act of violence in a play can really get a message across to the other characters, as well as to the audience as it can really create a shocking scene that can appear very realistic even though it is just acting. The play A Streetcar Named Desire has a couple of excellent examples where anger is portrayed physically. The most famous scene for the ones who know the story, is the scene where Blanche DuBois gets raped by Stanley Kowalski. Rape is a violent act of controlling, hate, or suppression. Looking at the character of Stanley and of the different world that this play is set in, he is usually seen as a brute and a bully and we cannot doubt this given the way he treats his wife Stella, and her sister Blanche. In the play, it does not say that Stanley raped Blanche, but with some different wording it is blatant that Blanche was raped by Stanley while his wife was in the Hospital delivering his kid. What made Stanley hate Blanche was he suspected lies coming from Blanche, and no truth about her losing the inheritance she got along with their estate. Stanley wanted part of the money due to the Louisiana’s Napoleonic Code that he mentions to Blanche, which means anything that is his wife’s property is his too. Stanley says this purposely to hurt Blanche. Stanley has just been humiliated since Blanche proved her story about Belle Reve (their estate) with the financial papers she provided. Stanley suspects more lies from Blanche throughout the play and gets increasingly angrier throughout. Eventually some text in the play in scene ten suggests that Stanley raped Blanche. The stage direction says this,

“He springs toward her, overturning the table. She cries out and strikes him with the bottle top, but he catches her wrist. She moans. She sinks to her knees. He picks up her inert figure and carries her to the bed” (p.162).

This suggests that Blanche was, indeed, raped by Stanley. Stanley seems like he is using his hatred that he has had toward Blanche during this entire play as well as using his anger to get ahold of Blanche to perform this violent act. Stanley’s anger got the best of him and utilized it while his Stella was away in the hospital.

Lastly, the final way to show anger in a play is through non-verbal language, or better known as body language. This can involve throwing things, not particularly directed at a person so it is not violence. An example of non-verbal anger comes from scene eight in A Streetcar Named Desire. In this scene we see Stella and Stanley. Already knowing who gets mad, Stanley ends up throwing a plate on to the floor after Stella made him upset and angry. It all starts with Blanche telling stories that she believes are amusing stories and Stella placates her by laughing along. Stanley intently tuning the two ladies out, and the fact that he wants to eat rather than to listen to them makes Stella angry. Stella says, “Mr. Kowalski is too busy making a pig of himself to think of anything else!” followed by a line from Stanley acknowledging sarcastically, and Stella continues, “your face and your fingers are disgustingly greasy. Go and wash up and then help me clear the table” (p.131). This angered Stanley to no surprise and the stage direction given was as follows, “[He hurls a plate to the floor]” Stanley saying, “That’s how I’ll clear the table! [He seizes her arm] Don’t ever talk that way to me!” (p.131). This act of throwing a plate is a use of non-verbal anger but followed by verbal anger like the first example, anger comes in many forms. Stanley shouting at Stella was a response of anger toward her and Blanche. Stanley’s anger throughout this play is mostly verbal, but there are hints of non-verbal anger as previously mentioned, as well as physical anger.

Theatre portraying emotions through verbal, non-verbal body language, and physical emotions to someone else can really get that emotional message across to the audience that is just so important in bringing to life the characters such as Stanley, and Toni. If these characters did not use verbal, non-verbal body language, or physical violence to other characters, then they would be portrayed less angry than intended or not angry at all. Branden Jacob-Jenkins author of Appropriate, as well as Tennessee Williams author of A Streetcar Named Desire did a fantastic job of bringing these characters to life with how they interacted with the other characters. Emotions are to always to be show, never hidden.

Cite this paper

“A Streetcar Named Desire” and “Appropriate” Comparison. (2022, Apr 26). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/a-streetcar-named-desire-and-appropriate-comparison/



How are Stella and Blanche similar?
Both Stella and Blanche come from wealthy families. They are both used to a life of privilege and have a hard time dealing with their new circumstances.
What does Blanche mean when she compares desire to a streetcar?
Blanche means that desire is something that takes you on a ride. It is something that is out of your control and can take you to places you never thought you would go.
Why is Blanche compared to a moth?
In "A Streetcar Named Desire," Blanche is often compared to a moth because she is delicate, fragil,e and attracted to light.
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