The audience of Streeetcar sees both the inside of the Kowalskis’ apartment as well as the street, which emphasizes the tense relationship between what is on the outside and what is on the inside throughout the play. The physical attention to inside versus outside also symbolically demonstrates the complicated relationship between what goes on in the mind versus what occurs in real life. As the play progresses, the split between Blanche’s fantasy world and reality becomes sharper and clearer to every character in the play except Blanche, for whom the interior and exterior worlds become increasingly blurred.
Social and class distinctions also point to the tension between interior and exterior. Blanche is trying to “keep up appearances” in all aspects of her life. She surrounds herself in her silks and rhinestones and fantasies of Shep’s yacht to maintain the appearance of being an upper-class ingénue, even though she is, by all accounts, a “fallen woman.” Blanche also calls Stanley a “Polack” and makes snide remarks about the state of the Kowalski apartment in order to maintain her own sense of external social superiority.
Williams uses music to play with the boundary between the interior and the exterior. The “blue piano” that frequently plays outside evokes tension and fraught emotions inside the apartment. Although the blue piano is a part of the exterior world, it expresses the feelings occurring inside the characters. Blanche sings “Paper Moon” in the bath offstage while, onstage, Stanley reveals to Stella Blanche’s hidden and sordid history. Music also allows the audience to enter Blanche’s head. When she hears the Varsouviana Polka, the audience hears the polka, even though it is only playing in her mind. Just as Blanche’s fantasy blurs into reality, Blanche’s point of view and the perspective of the whole play become blurred.
Interior and Exterior Appearance ThemeTracker
Interior and Exterior Appearance Quotes in A Streetcar Named Desire
They told me to take a street-car named Desire, and transfer to one called Cemeteries, and ride six blocks and get off at—Elysian Fields!
Stella, oh, Stella, Stella! Stella for Star!
Since earliest manhood the center of [Stanley’s] life has been pleasure with women, the giving and taking of it, not with weak indulgence, dependently, but with the power and pride of a richly feathered male bird among hens.
I never met a woman that didn’t know if she was good-looking or not without being told, and some of them give themselves credit for more than they’ve got.
The kitchen now suggests that sort of lurid nocturnal brilliance, the raw colors of childhood’s spectrum.
I can’t stand a naked light bulb, any more than I can a rude remark or a vulgar action.
There are things that happen between a man and a woman in the dark–that sort of make everything else seem–unimportant.
Young man! Young, young, young man! Has anyone ever told you that you look like a young Prince out of the Arabian Nights?
It’s only a paper moon, Just as phony as it can be–But it wouldn’t be make-believe If you believed in me!
I told you already I don’t want none of his liquor and I mean it. You ought to lay off his liquor. He says you’ve been lapping it up all summer like a wild-cat!
I don’t want realism. I want magic!
You left nothing here but spilt talcum and old empty perfume bottles–unless it’s the paper lantern you want to take with you. You want the lantern?
Whoever you are—I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.