in Tennessee Williams's
A Streetcar Named Desire
Henry I. Schvey
Despite the fact that many of his finest works ( The Glass Menagerie, Summer and Smoke) contain striking visual effects, previous criticism has neglected the importance of pictorial elements in the work of Tennessee Williams.At the conclusion of his Memoirs ( 1975), Williams points directly at the power and concreteness of which the visual artist (as opposed to the literary) is capable:
The work of a fine painter, committed only to vision, abstract and allusive as he pleases, is better able to create for you his moments of intensely perceptive being ... van Gogh could capture for you moments of beauty, indescribable as descent into madness.
The above statement is revealing not only with regard to Williams's attitude towards the pictorial arts, but also illuminates a process he actually employs with great success in his own study of a "descent into madness," A Streetcar Named Desire ( 1947).
The present paper will consider three aspects of Williams's use of pictorial elements in A Streetcar Named Desire: his reference to a specific painting in the stage directions to the third scene of the play, the play's colour____________________