Scene 3 contains one of Tennessee Williams’ most famous scenes where we see Stanley and Stella have a terrible row, resulting in Stella being hit.
Williams presents Stanley and Stella’s relationship as being complex. You need to think about how and why he does this. In order to think about Williams’ representation of their relationship, answer these questions in your groups.
What does Williams present as the causes of the row they have?
How is the conflict between Stanley and Stella provoked by Blanche’s presence?
How do Blanche and Mitch get to know each other in this scene? How does their burgeoning relationship contrast with Stella and Stanley’s one?
How and why does Stella return back to Stanley? What is Williams showing about their relationship here?
How do the stage directions represent their relationship?
What language is employed by the couple: what nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs do they commonly use? How do their registers differ?
Learning Objectives: to develop your independent reading skills, to learn how to work out what is going on if you are confused, to learn how to discuss literary texts in groups; to learn how Williams uses conflicts between characters to create suspense, mystery and explore certain ideas and themes.
You are going to read until the end of Scene 2 in groups and discuss each scene in turn. Double-up roles if necessary.
This scene focuses primarily on Blanche, Stanley and Stella. What conflict between the characters is revealed here? What really interests you about this scene?
When you’ve finished each scene, have a discussion about what you think of the play so far…Each member in the group has a role:
An explainer: you try your best to explain what you think is going on… A questioner: you come up with questions to ask the group. Ask open-ended questions such as “What do you think of Blanche?” A “quoter”: you pick and read out interesting quotes and say why you think they are interesting, asking the group what they think. A theatre director: you discuss how might stage the play and what actors you would get to play the roles etc.
Homework: Now write your own reflections on what YOU THINK of this scene by replying down below. What do you think of the plot, the characters, the themes and the dramatic techniques? What interests you about the play? What are things you are confused by?
EXTENSION: Watch Suddenly Last Summer, another great Tennessee Williams’ play.