Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams: Introduction

Tennessee Williams' play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1954) is his third significant play that is a modernist play on several interrelated subjects, the major one of which is that of crisis in the development of the homosexual 'culture' in modern America.

Tennessee Williams (1911-1983)

With a homosexual character as the husband of a particularly sexually attractive and potent wife, the drama reveals several aspects of life and experience of a family in the 1950's in America.

The play is partly autobiographical, but as the dramatists comments on it himself (Act II), the theme of the play is not related to one man's "psychological problem" but to the "true quality of experience in a group of people in the thundercloud of a common crisis". This common crisis was the crisis of the homosexuals who had come to the phase of half-revealing their secrets of the society. But it was tragic that the society would stigmatize it and outlaw such people. The dramatist could not be frank with the problem, which was also his own personal problem. However, the dramatization is successful; no solution is found out or suggested, but the problem is well presented.

After 25 years, in a TV interview, Williams confessed his homosexuality and also Brick's, frankly and loudly. He said he would like to rewrite that play. Besides, the play successfully dramatizes the 'problem' and crisis, rather than solve it, and it would not be necessary to tell the truth when we can perceive the difficulty of telling it.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof has all of the earmarks of Williams's unique dramas, involving as it does his emotionally biographical themes of ambivalence in sexual orientation, disaffection, and difficulty in maintaining intimate relationships. The play concerns a young man's disaffection and descent into alcoholism following the death of his college friend, and his wife's efforts to make him stop drinking so that he can take over his dying father's plantation.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof was a huge commercial success, running for 694 performances on Broadway. It won Williams his second Pulitzer Prize in 1955 (his first being for A Streetcar named Desire) and third New York Drama Critics' Circle Award. The play depicts the aftereffects of two devastating world wars in the psychology of the then generation: the depression, mendacity, greed, sexual desire, desire for death, alcoholism and so on. The play was made into a motion picture with the same name in 1958.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Study Center

Maggie as a Cat in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

The Maggie-Brick Relationship in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Sexual Struggle and Conflict in Cat on a Hot tin Roof

Illusion and the Grotesque in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Homosexuality the Problem in Brick in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Isolation and the Lack of Communication in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Summary of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Dramatic Technique in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Biography of Tennessee Williams