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The Rose Tattoo Paperback – April 1, 2010
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"The Rose Tattoo is a buoyantly comic celebration of life and its inexhaustible capacity for breaking free from the past…it would be a hard heart that failed to surrender to its generous adult fairy tale vision."
― The Independent [London]
"The Rose Tattoo is singular in the Williams canon…as poetic and wistful a work as Williams ever composed."
― The New York Times
About the Author
John Patrick Shanley is the author of Doubt: A Parable, which won the Tony Award and the Pulitzer Prize for best play of 2005, and several screenplays, including Moonstruck, winner of the Academy Award for best original screenplay.
- Publisher : New Directions; Illustrated edition (April 1, 2010)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 176 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0811218821
- ISBN-13 : 978-0811218825
- Item Weight : 6.6 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The play follows the story of the protagonist Serafina Delle Rose. She is an Italian woman and a seamstress who lives in a Sicilian community in Louisiana. She is pregnant and also has a daughter Rosa. She loves her husband Rosario to bits but Rosario is not what he seems. He is having an affair with a local woman Estelle and is a smuggler. After he is shot and killed by police, Serafina overhears some women who are neighbours discussing how they will break the news to her and her grief begins.
Her own past pain, because though she loved Rosario with all her heart she knew his faults even though she was in denial, also comes in her negative feelings when three years later Rosa meets a guy she loves called Jack. I also think the negative feelings are because she fears if Jack died, Rosa would go through the same pain she did. So it’s protective but it’s also stopping her daughter from happiness and Serafina does not communicate very well her fears through whatever. Pride? Fear to be honest about it? An I’m the Mother and I don’t have to explain myself attitude. Whatever the reason or reasons, her communication skills with her daughter are lacking severely which is unfair to Rosa. Williams brings many topics into this story such as family dynamics, immigration, sexuality and romantic feelings, communication issues, finding your place in the world, grief and mental illness.
I think it is an amazing play. I was engrossed in the characters and the plot from start to finish. The writing is gorgeously down-to-earth and the dialogue, which is especially the heart of a play, is amazing, spot-on and realistic. Williams didn’t stereotype the characters which was wonderful but not surprising either considering his boyfriend Frank Merlo was a Sicilian-American man from Louisiana and the play is based a lot on Merlo’s family history and background. The play is also dedicated to Merlo.
Beautifully written. Amazing job. A must-read. I loved it! 🙂
The three-act play is set around 1950 in an unnamed town on the Gulf Coast between New Orleans and Mobile with a large population of Sicilian immigrants. The play tells the story of a middle-aged Sicilian immigrant woman, Serafina Delle Rose who passes from grief and despair to love and sexuality and to a second chance at life. In the opening scenes, Serafina is pregnant and married to a man named Rosario and the couple have a 12-year old daughter, Rosa. Rosario never appears in the play. He is killed almost immediately when he is smuggling contraband for the underworld under a truckload of bananas. Serafina, who works as a seamstress, is shaken to the extent that she loses the baby. She lives solely with the memory of Rosario and of his sexual prowess, symbolized by the rose tattoo on his chest. She comes to idealize her dead husband and fights fiercely to repress compelling evidence of his long-term infidelity.
Most of the play is set in a single day three years after Rosario's death. Serafina continues to mourn his passing and loses interest in her friends and in other people. She becomes over-protective of Rosa, who is now an adolescent graduating from high school who has fallen in love with Jack, a young sailor. Serafina meets an uncouth but magnetically attractive young man, Alvaro, who also drives a truck for a living and who reminds her of her late husband. The sexual attraction is immediate. In long scenes between Rosa and Alvaro, Williams develops their relationship. Serafina comes to terms with the frailties of her husband and with love and romance. She is able to love herself and to release her daughter to her own life.
The play is lengthy and takes concentration to read. It is full of symbolism, including the rose tattoo, religious icons, a watch, a randy goat, a flamboyant pink shirt and more. The Sicilian immigrant community is vividly drawn with eccentric characters including a herbal doctor and a witch. The play includes some Italian dialogue which is best read over quickly as its meaning is generally clear from the context. I found it helpful to watch the film version between readings of the play to help visualize the action. Magnani's portrayal of Serafina brings the character to life more than any reading could do. Although the film version is bowdlerized, the spirit of Williams' play comes through.
John Lahr's biography "Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh" (2014) devotes substantial space to Williams' writing of "The Rose Tattoo" and to its biographical significance. Williams wrote several early drafts which were critiqued by Elia Kazan, who had already directed several of Williams' plays. Williams wrote and rewrote to adopt Kazan's suggestions into the final version of the play. When he had completed the final draft, Kazan, after hesitation, declined to direct the work, to Williams' great disappointment. In this instance, Williams was right to have faith in the worth of his play, as suggested by the Tony Award. Years later, in 1959, Kazan would back out from directing another Williams comedy, the far less successful play, "Period of Adjustment". Williams and Kazan never worked together again.
"The Rose Tattoo" is a beautiful play about disappointment and grief and about the power of love and sexuality to redeem life. In addition to this individual version, the play is available in the first of the two Library of America volumes devoted to the plays of Tennessee Williams.