Thursday, April 16, 2015

Plain Style in A Streetcar Named Desire

     For this critique, I decided to choose a play written in 1947, A Streetcar Named Desire by the American playwright Tennessee Williams. I found this play in my American Literature class (ENG202), and it is my favorite drama among all the plays we studied. The drama A Streetcar Named Desire is often numbered on the short list of being among the finest American plays in the 20th century. This play is talking about the female protagonist Blanche who travels from South to North to visit her sister Stella and stay there for four months. I think the audience could be those who study theatre, thus the sphere of human activity of this play would be theatre studies. Some of the protagonists’ utterances in this play reflect the conflict between traditional morality and new ethics through the description of life in North America during the Second World War. The goal of this play is to appeal the new morality to replace the conventional morality, which can decrease harm for people.
      I firmly believe that the utterance of this play could be considered Plain style language. Plain style language is fitting all kinds of audiences. It has many features like using straightforward language, active words, and common short English sentences. The writers frequently use plain style to write stories or plays clearly and popularly; mostly plays have active conversation between protagonists that utilizes plain style.
      For example, take the narrative passage and conversation of A Streetcar Named Desire:
      “Stanley throws the screen door of the kitchen open and comes in. He is of medium height, about five feet eight or nine, and strongly, compactly built. Animal joy in his being is implicit in all his movements and attitudes. Since earliest manhood the center of his life has been pleasure with women, the giving and taking of it, not with weak indulgence, dependency, but with the power and pride of a richly feathered male bird among hens. Branching out from this complete and satisfying center are all the auxiliary channels of his life, such as his heartiness with men, his appreciation of rough humor, his love of good drink and food and games, his car, his radio, everything that is his, that bears his emblem of the gaudy seed-bearer. He sizes women up at a glance, with sexual classifications, crude images flashing into his mind and determining the way he smiles at them.
               STANLEY: What's all this monkey doings?
      STELLA: Oh, Stan! [She jumps up and kisses him which he accepts with lordly composure] I'm taking Blanche to Galatoire's for supper and then to a show, because it's your pok'r night.
       STANLEY: How about my supper, huh? I'm not going to no Galatoire's for supper!
       STELLA:I put you a cold plate on ice.
       STANLEY: Well, isn't that just dandy!
       STELLA: I'm going to try to keep Blanche out till the party breaks up because I don't know how she would take it. So we'll go to one of the little places in the Quarter afterwards and you'd better give me some money.”
        This narrative and the conversation obviously followed the plain style language. First of all, the narrative is describing the figure of the protagonist. This paragraph uses simple words and active voice to describe the protagonist. For the grammar, this paragraph keeps the subject, verb and object close together in the short sentences such as the first sentence, making the content easy to understand for the audience. In conversation, characters use very simple words, and clear structure. Finally, I noticed that the writer uses “monkey” to describe people, which added the vitality of this case.
      This passage, when run through the readability scale, resulted in a Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease score of 56.7 and an average grade level of 12.1. The words are not complex for people to understand. Even though a sentence in the narrative section is long with complex structure, those three lines use lots of phrases so I think that would not confuse people. I prefer the conversation section to the narrative one because I think the conversation is more active and vivid for people to imagine what is happening.
      Let us concentrate on another piece of the script.
      This ole farmer is out in back of his house sittin' down th'owing corn to the chickens when all at once he hears a loud cackle and this young hen comes lickety split around the side of the house with the rooster right behind her and gaining on her fast.
      STANLEY [impatient with the story]: Deal!
      STEVE: But when the rooster catches sight of the farmer th'owing the corn he puts on the brakes and lets the hen get away and starts pecking corn. And the old farmer says, "Lord God, I hopes I never gits that hongry!" [Steve and Pablo laugh. The sisters appear around the corner of the building]
     STELLA: The game is still going on.
     BLANCHE: How do I look?
     STELLA: Lovely, Blanche.
     BLANCHE:I feel so hot and frazzled. Wait till I powder before you open the door. Do I look done in?
     STELLA: Why no. You are as fresh as a Daisy.”
     This piece is considerably difficult to read when compared with the first selection, ranking with Flesch-Kincaid at a score of 52.2 and an average grade level of 15.2. The usage of simple sentences—keeping subject, verb and object together in this piece—relates to “The game is still going on.” It also uses the simplest form of a verb in the sentence example, which can relate to “How do I look”. Some strategies of metaphor like personification in the conversation could be related to “the rooster catches sight of the farmer”.
       Some people would argue that plain style language has half-baked sentence structure or not good enough grammar. In a sense they could be right, but such an opinion doesn’t fit this case because this is a play. I firmly believed that plain style language in this play is suitable for the demand of a public audience and attracts people to watch and enjoy it. A play with plain style language usually is intended for public audience instead of a special audience. It has some active short words in sentences and some active punctuation that shows personalities that are characteristic of protagonists and drive the plot to climax.
      Plain language is suitable for average level audiences and easy to be understood.
     Simultaneously, the play with plain style language would likely be using some metaphors such as personification and parallelism to beautify sentences. These evidences definitely show the plain style language features of this case. In general, an essay would look more vivid and visual within plain style; the essay would to be even more attractive in the audience’s eye. I personally think the usages of plain style are evidenced in the proper point of this piece such as the conversational section by using the active words, short words, metaphors and relatively common sentence structure according to the result of readability statistics. For the most part, the article is very consistent and logical.

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