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Cat On A Hot Tin Roof Hardcover – 1955
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From School Library Journal
Grade 10-Up Topics covered in 10 authoritative essays include: the character of Brick, his friendship with Skipper, his relationship with Maggie, homophobia, the author's unseen characters, Williams's treatment of women, the influence of Spanish author Federico Garc'a Lorca, and comparisons to Williams's other works. All chapters contain examples of dialogue from the play followed by interpretation. The book also has a chronology of the playwright's life and a substantial bibliography. Students studying Williams's work will find a wealth of information here. A great purchase for schools with Cat in the curriculum. -Pat Bender, The Shipley School, Bryn Mawr, PA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Tennessee Williams never wrote a more explosive play than Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. — Howard Kissel (The Daily News)
The introductions, by playwrights as illustrious as Williams himself, are the gem of these new editions. — Ken Furtado (Echo Magazine) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The play is set in the largest mansion in the very heart of the rich farmland of the Mississippi delta, near Clarksville. There are three acts, but the time period is continuous. ‘Big Daddy’ is now 65, and owner of the plantation. He is still “rough-hewed,” having once been the overseer of the plantation that was owned by two “sisters” (gays), Jack Straw and Peter Ochello. Homosexuality, a “racy” topic in the 1950’s, is a theme throughout the play. ‘Big Daddy’s’ wife is, sure enough, ‘Big Mama.’ They have two sons, Brick and Gooper, who are each married, respectively, to Maggie and Mae. Each of the women have societal pretenses, one raised in Memphis, and the other Nashville. Gooper is the oldest, and with Mae has five “no-neck” children, with a sixth on the way. Brick and Mae are childless. He is also a serious alcoholic, morose over his lost college athletic “glory days,” and his relationship with his buddy, Skipper, now dead. The reason for Brick and Maggie’s childlessness – that he will not sleep with her – and his probable homosexual relationship with Skipper is developed as the play progresses. ‘Big Mama’ frankly criticizes Maggie for failing to perform her “bed duties,” and keep her son happy. They all live in the mansion house, and are jockeying for the inheritance. It is a “heady” mix.
Mendacity, greed, sexual longing are all themes woven throughout the play. About half this Kindle edition contains various essays of commentary, the most meaningful one from Tennessee Williams himself. The influence and relationship of Williams with the director Elia Kazan is described. I even learned that this play was the favorite of Fidel Castro, who greeted Williams on their first meeting with the exclamation: “Oh, that Cat!” The play’s evolution and various versions are discussed (perhaps more than most people need to know), and an entirely different third act is also included.
Reading, or watching a performance of Williams’ plays is an important part of the “curriculum” of any student of American drama – whatever the age of that student. 5-stars for “The Cat.”
All of Williams' plays are about lonely people when you come right down to it. However, "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" is unique in that these lonely characters are part of a large family, and at times are literally tripping over each other. What makes us lonely is our inability to communicate with those that we love. It is in that essential human drive that Williams creates the tragedy of this piece. A father knows his son is a closeted gay man; he loves him, but can't get the son to believe or accept that. A wife knows the truth about her husband, but can't make herself believe it. (Actually that last one applies to two wives in the play, for different reasons.) A man faces death, in essence alone, because he can't admit how terrified he is. And the list goes on. These are the stories of the Pollitt family of the Mississippi Delta. Those particulars are different for all of us, but the essential worries and fears of the members of this family are universal, and have been at the heart of a powerful drama for over 50 years.
The witting of this play is luminous and gorgeous. In fact, at times it reads like poetry. However, the power in this piece is also due in large part to the structure of this three act play. The first act is almost a solo from the character of Maggie. The second act is a painful and terrifying duet from the characters of Brick and Big Daddy, and the final act is the ensemble number that builds, and then ends on a slow drawn out note.
If you see "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" in performance it is a long play, and at times painful. You will not feel the same intensity unless you let yourself sit down and devour it in one gulp. Read the play in a day, and you will come closer to approximating seeing it in performance than you otherwise would. In the best of possible worlds, you will read it, and then a month or so later see it in a well done performance.
This play is the pinnacle of American Drama. You should know it. Make that the case if it is not so!
And wow. This work shocked me so much more than I was expecting. Released in the 1950s, this play never leaves the confines of the Maggie and Brick's bedroom but tackles issues of homosexuality, hypocrisy, marriage, escapism, love, lies, and the confines of manliness.
Over the course of the novel the characters are constantly battling with truths that lurk just beneath the surface. Brick's love for his friend Skipper, Big Daddy's illness, and Maggie's frustrations of being a married woman all work to create an image of 1950s southern America struggling to find it's footing in a shifting moral world. I loved how Big Mama believed that if Brick and Maggie just had a child, then these problems would melt away. This representation of the Southern ideals of traditional families and inheritances flying in the face of reality is just as telling today as it was 60 years ago.
Can't wait to read more Williams.
That being said, I purchased the Kindle version of this upon being cast in the play. I wanted the Kindle version so my wife and I could read lines with the printed text.
We discovered that although the text is very similar, it IS NOT AN EXACT MATCH to the printed paper version of this. I am very disappointed with this, since I carefully matched ISBN numbers.
That being said, if you are just wanting to read the play, this is great. But if you want it to match the script to run lines, buy a copy to have paper-in-hand.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A must read for those who have only seen the movie.