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Domestic Realism In Tennessee Williams' Cat On A Hot Tin Roof

1182 words - 5 pages

Domestic Realism in Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Throughout the play of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" various members of the
family are at loggerheads. However, this comes to a climax in this
passage as Big Daddy's imminent death is confirmed and the question of
the heir to the estate becomes an important issue. The Oxford
Companion to American Literature describes the play as "depicting
bitter, abnormal family tensions". These family tensions are clearly
seen in this passage. Big Daddy is dying and the only characters who
appear to be more concerned about his death than the estate are Big
Mama and Maggie, "Precious Mommy. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry". Maggie is
sorry for the death of Big Daddy and all the petty arguments
surrounding it. "Big Daddy is not going to die" This denial of what
the doctors have claimed as inevitable is evidence of her not wanting
Big Daddy to die. Mae and Gooper, however, seem to be desperate to get
rid of him. "Eventualities have to be considered and now's the time".
This is inhumane of Gooper and he is wrong when he claims, "now's the
time". Big Mama is still discovering Big Daddy is going to die and
Gooper is forcing legalities on her.

"Understanding is needed on this place". This is one of the truest
comments within the play. Almost every member of family is at a
disagreement with another. The family is very broken up and there is a
lot of understanding needed to break these "abnormal family tensions".
"I guess you must have needed a lot of it…with your father's liquor
problem". This is a bitter comment and demonstrates the relationship
between Maggie and Mae. Throughout this passage there is a constant
undermining of Maggie, "Do you know why she's childless? She's
childless because that big, beautiful, athletic husband of hers won't
go to bed with her". Gooper also undermines Maggie's offering of
support to Big Mama with nasty cynicism, "How beautiful, how touching,
this display of devotion". This undermining stands to mark out
Maggie's flaws in the light of, who is more responsible for the
running of the estate. The relationships within the family are really
emphasised by this competition. Mae and Gooper also attempt to demean
Brick at every opportunity, advertising his defects, "Brick kept
living in his past glory at College! Still a football player at 27!"
Again, this is to illustrate that Brick is unsuitable for inheriting
Big Daddy's estate, "Big Daddy would never be foolish enough to-…put
this place in irresponsible hands".

There is evidence throughout the passage that Mae and Gooper and
working as a team. This is carried even to the extent that they can
finish off the other's sentences,

"Mae: Yais, we've all had a shock, but…

Gooper: Let's be realistic -

Mae: Big Daddy would never, would never be foolish enough to -
...

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