Character Conflict A Streetcar Named Desire

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Plot and Character Driven Drama in A Streetcar d Desire, The Lottery, and The Bourne Identity Be it a courtroom drama, an accident on the side of the road, or an argument in the street, humans are, by nature, attracted to conflict. Conflict tends to draw us in, captivate us, and capture our attention. It’s why Survivor has higher ratings than the Home Shopping Network and it’s why stories are not just presentations of utopias in stasis. Stories revolve around conflict, and authors tend to choose one of two methods to create this conflict: establishing conflict between characters’ personalities and establishing conflict between characters and their environment. While these two methods differ in style, they both use conflict to drive the plot effectively and hold the reader’s interest. In Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire and in the screenplay for the same work, conflict is created between characters’ personalities. The main plot of the story revolves around the conflict between Blanche and Stanley, two completely different personality types. Blanche is an aging southern belle with a catch-22 desire for men. Stanley, with his brutish and animalistic qualities, is the antithesis of Blanche’s ideals. He beats his pregnant wife in an alcoholic rage and accuses Blanche of trying to steal his wife’s inheritance, yet despite their apparent differences, Blanche and Stanley’s conflict is what drives the plot forward (Williams 2004). Readers are interested in the story because of their argument, and as the heat builds in that Tennessee summer, so does the conflict and the subsequent reader’s interest. Through this conflict between characters, Williams effectively uses conflict between character’s personalities to capture the interest of the reader and drive the plot forward (Kazan 1951). In contrast to Williams’s style are the plot driven stories of The Lottery and The Bourne Identity. Shirley Jackson’s method of utilizing action to drive the plot is obvious by analyzing the structure of the short story. The first half of the story builds the plot. In this portion, Jackson utilizes short paragraphs without dialogue to establish the pretense for the action. After this is done, Jackson uses quick paragraphs of back and fourth dialogue to tell the story and drive the action (Jackson 2004). This stands in contrast to Williams’s style of using longer sections of dialogue to establish differences in character’s personalities. Just as Jackson uses a quicker dialogue style to move the plot, Doug Liman uses a quick directing style to accent the action sequences of The Bourne Identity. During the car chase scene, each shot last roughly 1-3 seconds (Liman 2002). Going through many short shots quickly gives the viewer the feeling of being in the action and helps not only capture the viewer’s attention but also drives the plot. This is similar to Jackson’s style in that readers or viewers are presented with many short bits of information in quick sequence to relay the anxiety of an action sequence. This is in obvious contrast to Williams’s slow, building manner that is more reminiscent of the heat building in a hot southern summer night. While these two methods differ in style, they both use conflict to drive the plot effectively and hold the reader’s interest. Works Cited 1. The Bourne Identity. Dir. Doug Liman. Perf. Matt Damon. Universal Films, 2002. DVD. 2. Jackson, Shirley. The Lottery. The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature. By Jay Parini. New York: Oxford UP, 2004. Print. 3. A Streetcar Named Desire. Dir. Elia Kazan. Perf. Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando. Warner Bros., 1951. DVD. 4. Williams, Tennessee. A Streetcar Named Desire. New York: New Directions, 2004. Print.