Thomas Lanier Williams
March 26, 1911
Columbus, Mississippi, United States
February 25, 1983 (aged 71)
New York City, New York, United States
Edwina and Cornelius Coffin
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is a play by Tennessee
Williams. It was produced by the Playwrights’
Company. One of Williams's best-known works and
his personal favorite, the play won the Pulitzer Prize
for Drama in 1955. Set in the "plantation home in the
Mississipi Delta of Big Daddy Pollitt, a wealthy cotton
tycoon, the play examines the relationships among
members of Big Daddy's family, primarily between his
son Brick and Maggie the "Cat", Brick's wife.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof features several recurring
motifs, such as social mores, greed,
superficiality, mendacity, decay, sexual desire,
repression, and death.
Much of the pathos found in Williams’s drama
was mined from the playwright’s own life. One
of them is in cat on a hot tin of roof.
Alcoholism, depression, thwarted desire,
loneliness, and insanity were all part of
His experience as a known homosexual in an
era unfriendly to homosexuality also informed
In cat on a hot tin of roof, Tennesse William described
him self to this drama by Brick’s Character.
Brick embodies an almost archetypal masculinity, that
of the self-possessed, self-contained, untouchable, and
phallically intact man
Brick's brokenness is materialized in his injury, a
broken ankle incurred while jumping hurdles on the
high school athletic field. In a sense, it is an injury
incurred out of nostalgia for the early days of his
friendship with Skipper, the time of what Maggie
describes as their Greek legend. This injury, a wound
in his otherwise intact masculinity, is also a figure for
his castration, the unmanning implied in homosexual
Williams, like many other authors of his time, wrote
about the decade according to his personal
experiences with women. His own accounts with
women dealt with sensitivity to the way his mother
and sister were treated by his father. “Cat on a Hot Tin
Roof” has extreme undertones of emotional, sexual,
and spiritual need that are apparent in his character
“Maggie the Cat”.
During the 1950s women were conditioned to find their
worth in marriage and creating a sound family structure.
The women in Williams’ play are portrayed as very
dependent creatures with a variety of characteristics, each
in their own very different but all three tied by the
constraints of society.
Women were to marry, and no matter how miserable they
were treated, they were to please their husbands.
There was also a tendency for women to stay in
meaningless marriages because divorce was not supported
by social standards.
. In the case of Maggie and Brick, he reminds her they are
simply living together and married only by name.
She seems to be in constant torture because she cannot
experience intimacy (be it physical or emotional) with the
man in which she has vowed the rest of her life to.
It is obvious Brick does not appreciate the devotion of
Maggie. He is in a state of denial about life (and his
possible sexual orientation and attraction to Skipper) and
has degraded Maggie since the beginning of the
He also expresses how amazed he is that Maggie could
possibly want to have a child with a man that hates her.
Despite his abuse, Maggie stays married to a man who does
not want her.
to the 1950s society, it was that
characteristic that made her even more beautiful.
Some modern feminists, from the 1960s (and even the
late 1950s) to present day, would consider her weak but
the pure fact that she could survive in that
environment of moral decay is exasperating and
courageous. Women need other women to confide in
and to help take a stand, women in numbers are
powerful; however, Big Mama and Mae are no help to
Maggie. She is on alone for the duration of the play
and cannot leave Brick because of her devotion and
her dependency to his family.