Places: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: 1955

First produced: 1955

Type of work: Drama

Type of plot: Psychological realism

Time of work: Mid-twentieth century

Asterisk denotes entries on real places.

Places Discussed*Mississippi Delta

*Mississippi Cat on a Hot Tin RoofDelta. Fertile farming region of the western part of the state of Mississippi that is bordered by the Mississippi River. Brick and Maggie’s plantation is located in this region, which is dominated by large cotton plantations and strong family traditions. One of these traditions is to pass family plantations from fathers to eldest sons, but only to sons who have children to continue the tradition. In Tennessee Williams’s play, Brick’s father, Big Daddy Pollitt, is dying. He wishes to leave the plantation to Brick but hesitates because Brick has become a drunkard, and his wife, Maggie, has yet to produce the necessary grandson to carry on the Delta tradition.

Plantation house

Plantation house. Home of Brick and Maggie, whose large and beautiful bedroom opens on a veranda that encircles the second floor of the house. The room is clearly fit for important people to occupy and hold court; by the end of the play, the entire seventeen member cast has been received there. Also the place in which marriages are celebrated, the room is ironically a soft and beautiful prison in which Maggie’s desire for Brick goes unrequited. No matter how she appeals to Brick to make love, he rejects her, thereby turning their bedroom into a place where Maggie feels tormented, trapped like a cat on a hot tin roof.

BibliographyBloom, Harold, ed. Tennessee Williams. New York: Chelsea House, 1987. A collection of critical essays that includes thorough discussions of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Ruby Cohn, who examines themes and characters; Robert Heilman, who explores different “levels” of the play; and Esther Jackson, who focuses on the play’s symbolism.Falk, Signi Lenea. Tennessee Williams. 2d ed. Boston: Twayne, 1978. A useful introduction to Williams and his works. Summarizes critical assessments of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.Hirsch, Foster. A Portrait of the Artist: The Plays of Tennessee Williams. Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat Press, 1979. An overview of Williams’ work and career. Concludes that Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is “dishonest” but well crafted.Spoto, Donald. The Kindness of Strangers: The Life of Tennessee Williams. Boston: Little, Brown, 1985. A thorough biography that includes critical commentary. Argues that Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is a deliberately ambiguous yet “compassionate” play.Williams, Tennessee. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. New York: New Directions, 1955. A useful edition that contains both versions of Act III and commentary by Williams in which he explains why he wrote the second ending.
Categories: Places