Places: The Night of the Iguana

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: 1961

First produced: 1961, at the Royale Theatre, New York City

Type of work: Drama

Type of plot: Psychological realism

Time of work: Late summer, 1940

Places DiscussedCosta Verde

Costa Night of the Iguana, TheVerde. Hotel in Mexico, its name literally means “green coast” in Spanish. Williams describes it as rustic and bohemian, situated at the crest of a hill that overlooks a beach. He also notes that it is important to recognize that this is not the Mexican coast of his present, but of the early 1940’s–the temporal setting is as important as the spatial, given the important role of the German tourists and their blatant Nazi attitudes.

The entire play takes place on the roofed veranda at the front of the hotel. The rest of the setting is presented only as hints: background noises, glimpses of light and motion, shouts by the principal characters to unseen servants. Behind this wide veranda upon which folding tables are placed for supper, there is a row of small cubicles, each shrouded with mosquito netting. During the night scenes, they are lighted from within and serve as miniature interior stages within the main stage. Williams masterfully uses this constrained setting to keep the focus of his story tightly on the problems of the tormented characters.

BibliographyArnott, Catherine M., comp. File on Tennessee Williams. New York: Methuen, 1987. This brief overview is aimed at secondary school students and others who may be unfamiliar with Williams’ work. It is easily accessible and, although brief, accurate and well written.Bigsby, C. W. Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Edward Albee. Vol. 2 in A Critical Introduction to Twentieth-Century American Drama. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985. Bigsby is one of the best-informed critics of modern drama. In this volume, he offers sound interpretive insights into Williams’ writing career and into his standing among mid-century American dramatists.Falk, Signi L. Tennessee Williams. 2d ed. New York: Twayne, 1978. This revision of Falk’s earlier Twayne volume on Williams is very accessible, offering a sound overview of Williams’ career and excellent interpretations of his individual plays. The chronological table at the beginning is especially useful.Spoto, Donald. The Kindness of Strangers: The Life of Tennessee Williams. Boston: Little, Brown, 1985. Spoto’s excellent biography deals with the man, his background, his demons, and his individual plays and stories, all in accurate detail.Williams, Tennessee. Conversations with Tennessee Williams. Edited by Albert J. Devlin. Oxford: University Press of Mississippi, 1986. This collection of conversations and interviews between Williams and a number of interviewers provides an easy-to-follow overview of what Williams sought to achieve in his plays. A good starting point for those interested in Williams.
Categories: Places