“Terrible passions” : Vincent van Gogh’s Night café and A streetcar named Desire

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 11
  • Abstract:

    Abstract: At the beginning of Scene 3 in Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire, a rich description of Stanley Kowalski’s poker night invokes a painting by Van Gogh. The reference draws attention to the brash colours Williams harnesses as part of the imagery supporting Stanley’s brutal directness. Clearly Williams finds no better analogy for the lurid scene of the poker night than the painting, on which he relies to set the scene for the reader of the script: “There is a picture of Van Gogh’s of a billiard-parlour at night. The kitchen now suggests that sort of lurid nocturnal brilliance, the raw colours of childhood’s spectrum” (Williams 24, original italics).