The Symbolism of Public Transportation in “On the Streetcar” and Washington Square Essay

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: Feb 6th, 2019

1. The symbol of the street-car carriage described in Emilia Pardo Bazan’s short story reflects the desire of the people to represent themselves as belonging to the higher class and to overcome the challenges of the real plebeian life. To accentuate the gap between the desire and reality, Bazan states about the plebeian carriage as about the aristocratic one, “Oh, how gay the Madrilenian Sunday is and how aristocratic the streetcar at that time of day” (Bazan 46).

2. In Bazan’s short story, the symbolically important carriage is described as “the plebeian streetcar” which “sparkles proudly in the sun” (Bazan 46).

One carriage scene in Washington Square is when “in the carriage, as they drove home, she [Catherine] was as quiet as if fatigue had been her portion” (James 23). The next scene is when Catherine tried to reach “the road, where the carriage stood waiting. In it sat her father, rigid and silent; in silence, too, she took her place beside him” (James 100).

3. The carriage in Emilia Pardo Bazan’s short story symbolizes the inner desire of the people to hide their origin and to achieve the social tops when the carriage in Henry James’s novel is a symbol of the home where silence and patience can be found.

4. The carriage described by Bazan is the reflection of the people’s changing nature when they can seem to be plebeian or aristocratic. On the contrary, the carriage in James’s novel is the symbol of the characters’ true nature when they prefer to become silent or quiet to find the desired patience.

5. Susan McKenna states that in her story, Bazan focuses on “the various types boarding the streetcar at the Puerta del Sol” (McKenna 81). As a result, the social dissimilarity of the population is emphasized along with the description of the carriage.

6. In her discussion of Bazan’s works, Susan McKenna concentrates on the features and elements not only from the social perspective but also from the point of gender.

7. In the introduction to James’s novel, Jennie Kassanoff states that Washington Square is rich in symbols, and the reference to cars is important to reflect the characters’ true nature and their desire to run from themselves (Kassanoff ix).

8. Jennie Kassanoff is great in seeing deeper in the context and symbolism of James’ novels and stories.

9. The symbol of the ‘changing’ carriage in Bazan’s story is an attempt to represent different types of people and their possible desires to play the other persons’ roles within the society. These various types of people want to escape from the plebian reality and to achieve the social tops.

10. The symbol of a carriage in James’s novel is the author’s attempt to describe the place where the characters can avoid their ironical behaviors and become silent in order to achieve some harmony.

11. The main ideas which should be emphasized with references to symbolism in Bazan and James’s works are that the simple symbol of a carriage as the public transport can be used to reflect the diverse public with its many ideas and desires. Moreover, the carriage is also the symbol of the transition from one state to the other when people cease to be active and become silent because they want to behave in such a way.

Works Cited

Bazan, Emilia. “The White Horse” and Other Stories. USA: Bucknell University Press, 1993. Print.

James, Henry. Washington Square. USA: Interactive Media, 2012. Print.

Kassanoff, Jennie. “Introduction”. Daisy Miller and Washington Square. Ed. Jennie Kassanoff. USA: Spark Educational Publishing, 2004. i-x. Print.

McKenna, Susan. Crafting the Female Subject: Narrative Innovation in the Short Fiction of Emilia Pardo Bazán. USA: CUA Press, 2009. Print.

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