Analyzing The Cat On Hot Tin Roof Book English Literature Essay

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The objective of this extended essay is to analyze the character Brick of the book Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, written by Tennessee Williams in order to find the factors that take the protagonist to a possible identity crisis as we recognize how they affect him.

In this book the author uses the characters in order to display the prejudices in the book, like when he uses Brick with the objective to develop the problem of the book through him and what prejudices can cause in a person.

Analyzing the book through the character Brick how he lie in the house which creates an atmosphere of lies mistrust between them and with the society also , one of the major events and issues occurring at work.

It has been chosen to work the book the Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, written by Tennessee Williams in 1955 where we will analyze the topic of this extended essay .

This book was written in 1955 for this purpose it has been taken for this work is the time around this year so you can also see the repercussion of the historic context in the characters.

In the following work I will analyze Brick and as he tries to take a rebellious attitude, cold and calculating with the motive of creating a male vision, when in fact the interior is quite the opposite, which means it is a true love.

The extended essay will be divided in two parts. In the first part I will give the factors that take him to a possible identity crisis .And in the second part I will show the repercussion of this factors to Brick.

We could generally get to realize that Brick has an identity crisis because he never fell the real love of a person, he thinks that all the people fells for him a material love, only his friend Skipper is the only one that gives him a true love.

Chapter 1

1.1 Literary context: Realism

1.1.1 Realism in theater

The ideas of Marcel Duchamp and the Dada collage that was the recovering the ideal of bringing art and life were really innovating. Black Mountain College, between 1933 and 1956, had as director Josef Albers that had been professor at the legendary Bauhaus, which operated in Germany during the Weimar Republic, until the Nazis closed it down because they didn't want that other person think against the Nazism ideas. In 1952 contemporary artists like John Cage that is musician and Merce Cunningham that is a dancer, made an event that mixed art sound and silence randomly and other kind of arts . The first "happening" event, like it was call , was when Allan Kaprow made "18 events" simultaneously, so that the viewer missed some things, which passed without waiting for your presence and without seeking a logical connection or theme, this act is what made a revolution of ideas. The happening is when the language has interdisciplinary, equality and autonomy, also juxtaposition, to include improvised and casual elements in a planned structure and the cancellation of that division that is always there in the scenery that is between stage and audience, between the viewer and the artist also, who loses privileged point of view only. Is so that in the happening you can combine what you want and will also call art . Another characteristic is that is dynamic, in other words performers and characters but seeks the public to participate actively. What this kind of genre is trying to do is to broaden its audience and its ability to appreciate emotional and intellectual reaction. During the early 60s, this happening was unpredictable and unrepeatable artistic operations. Then, the phenomenon went out and hybridized with the performance.

Action Art also find that art is an "experience" transformational. One example of these was the Action Painting of Jackson Pollock in the late '40s; here the work of art is an action or gesture of the artist, instead of the product, placing the body and movement in the center.

Beyond the groups that were mention, the scene took enough to feel challenged by these experiences. Artists from "happening" had no relation to the professional theatrical circles. However, the New Theatre as sources to happening and work of Antonin Artaud, who in 1958 is translated and is known outside France. [1] 

1.1.2 Realism in U.S.A: social and cultural historical context (1955)

To start talk about the realism in U.S.A, we have to mention, Julian Beck , that was an artist who had passed through Surrealism and Action Painting. He collaborated with Cage and Cunningham. Between 1945 and 1947, and also with Judith Malina, with who was formed in Erwin Piscator Dramatic Workshop in New. In 1947, Beck and Malina founded a new type of theatre that was called the Living Theatre, a nomadic theater community , that was dynamic because it experienced the collective creation, improvisation and physical participation of the viewer. In his shop, which was often closed, were read Greek tragedies, poetry evenings, concerts and happenings. They contributed to the spread of Luigi Pirandello and Brecht in the U.S.A. The Living stood outside the market, in order to avoid aesthetic or ideological influences. Economically dependent on the solidarity of friends who were famous actors and was also funded by large foundations, but never received money from the famous Rockefeller Foundation .First they have to call the attention of the public, appealing through dialogue and genuine improvisations mixing with improvisations false. An example is the play "The Connection" that is supposedly about real junkies waiting for their dealer while playing a jazz band and a group of filmmakers shooting a documentary. Living subsequently abandoned this position, looking for a relationship with the free viewer based on deception and aggression as a total way of exorcising real violence. This new kind of view means more risks.

Another example is The Brig, a show that showed a day in a military prison , it was based on learning the manual of the Marines, in order to produce in the cast aberrant relationships established between guards and prisoners. During the performance scenes were planned indeterminate, in which penalties were improvised, which meant a real physical and emotional risk to the actor, who allegedly would plague the viewer.

It would be wrong to think that everything was experimenting in the American theater of the time. In the 50s there is the consecration of Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams on Broadway, spearheads authentic realism. Also Lee Strasberg in 1951 took over the leadership of the Actor's Studio and the dissemination of his Method. In fact the situation was very hard for experimental theater, mainly for the Living, which lost its premises and decided to move to Europe in 1964, staying until 1968. [2] 

1.2 Tennessee Williams and Literature

The playwright Tennessee Williams in his books presents before us the dark world of one-dimensional society of the modern civilization that survives in the midst of exploitation, violation of moral code of conduct, corruption and dehumanized passions of power and intimate relationships. He makes us realize that such worldly circumstances of the tainted world drives the misfits, the rebels, the artist figures or the fugitive kinds to lead lives of depression, alienation and unhappy madness (a sort of severe schizophrenia). It happens due to their failure of adjustment with the worldly norms and they construct make-believe worlds around them through fabricated illusions in order to feel a sense of untrammeled freedom. The playwright through his impulsive creative activity provides us with a basic premise to understand with tenderness and fortitude such individuals trapped in their own predicament. [3] 

Tennessee Williams derives his themes from psychoanalysis, conferred upon American drama by the influence of Freud's theories given in the books namely Suppressed Desires and Interpretation of Dreams. Sigmund Freud became popular in America during the early twentieth century. W. David Sievers states: "He contradicted the earlier view that sexual deviation is the form of degeneracy; rather he scientifically named them as abnormal psychic disorders like neuroses, hysteria, hypochondria, irrationality and hypertension." (Freud on Broadway: A History of Psychoanalysis and the American Drama. New York: Cooper, 1970, 36-40) These all occur due to sexual maladjustment and if there is an unconscious repression of sex drive (libido) it results into unconscious conflicts and this psychological dualism of man's nature originates hostile impulses and we find split-personality lives. Tennessee Williams was suffering from Oedipus complex because in his earlier life he could not get attached to his father; he found convincing attraction in his mother. While leading a Bohemian lifestyle in New Orleans, he became aware that he had homosexual tendencies. His unconscious rationalization or repression made him explore the world of gaiety and frivolity. Unconsciously it affected him and it found expression in his writings, in the form of portraits- at times as that of his sister and at others in his own.

The extrasensory perception and heightened emotionalism of Tennessee Williams' writings have inspired numerous attempts at interpretations over the years. For readers and critics his plays exude extreme impulsive feelings even after so many years of acquaintance with his work. Inspite of increasing concern and criticism there are a number of areas that need to be explored to resolve certain unanswered questions about Tennessee Williams more than about any other major contemporary playwright. Even though the form of the plays is deviated from conventional standards as well as their seemingly secret yearnings shame the society and they are shunned from mainstream society, yet the plays are still held to be more successful due to their inner probing of a lost person in the corrupt and materialistic world of the twentieth century. [4] 

The characters in Tennessee Williams' plays attempt to create an aura of illusions in order to either forget the unpleasant reality of human existence or to avoid certain experiences of the past. Sometimes they are also fed up with this material life and the worldly-wise people that inhabit it. Such illusions serve as an escape for them and also enable them to remain disguised in a make-believe world. [5] 

Chapter 2

2.1 Factors that cause the possible identity crisis

2.1.1 Prejudices

As to have seen in Chapter 1 the author in the book is a critique of society showing the character of Brick.

Looks like the latter is affected by the prejudices of society, so that at all times try to hide the truth, so that cannot be judged and adapt to society.

If the act as it really is, would not remain in a social circle base, in other words the scheme would break the layout of the American man who plays football, which has the most beautiful woman, which is cold. All that is a simple mask to have a means of adaptation and continue the routine of life that is tired.

The above can be associated with the life of Tennessee Williams, since being homosexual United States did not allow his return, simply because of their sexual decision.

So as we can see the prejudices lead a person to the person to have psychological problems and a possible identity crisis that subsequently affirmed if it is true.

2.1.2 Mendacity

Mendacity is another factor affecting brick throughout his life, since it is surrounded. At home his family are shown as mendacious people, nobody cares to tell the truth, they prefer to tell lies so they can benefit, or otherwise as in the Brick to hide their sexual decision and his possible homosexuality

2.2 How these factors are reflected in Brick

2.2.1 Brick's homosexuality

Brick in the play presents a crisis of identity, the protagonist does not know how to face the world due to a lack of communication by the father or a lack of love from society at large, the only thing that really came to love his friend Skipper, and after his friend death . Brick crumbles entirely with aging and not having a sense his life so he resorts to drinking

As many of William's books, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof concerns itself with the elaboration of a certain fantasy of broken manliness, in this case a manliness left crippled by the homosexual desire it must keep in abeyance.

Brick is Cat's broken man. The favorite son and longed-for lover of a wealthy plantation family, he possesses the charm of those who have given up and assumed a pose of indifference before the world. Brick embodies an almost archetypal masculinity. Brick's "enviable coolness," however, is the coolness of repression, a repression that keeps his desires at bay. Brick is an alcoholic who cannot avow the desire in his relationship with his dead friend Skipper. Turning from his desire, he has depressively distanced himself from the world with a screen of liquor. He is reduced to the daily, mechanical search for his click that gives him peace.

His mourning is made all the more difficult by the desire he cannot avow. As Maggie notes, theirs is a love that dare not speak its name, a love that could not be satisfied or discussed. Thus Daddy, assuming the position of judge, will force Brick to confront this love. Brick's attempts at dodging him are crucial to the way the play imagines manliness. As Daddy approaches what has been tenuously repressed, Brick empties his words of all significance. As he tells Daddy, their talks never "materialize" and nothing is really said. When Daddy presses him, Brick reveals why he yearns for "solid quiet."

The book presents a Brick who for many years been hiding a secret that could convict for life, his homosexuality, and secret friendship with Skipper with false attitudes this means that he wants an image that is not so in this chapter thoroughly analyze this attitude that takes the protagonist in the play.

Brick's identity, that of an 'accused' homosexual and a that of a football player, will be examined and explained as a concept that Williams used to create a contrast within Brick's identity.

In Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Brick is insecure about his manhood and especially about how others perceive his manhood. At one point in the play Brick's father, a character that goes by the name "Big Daddy," insinuates that there was something, from his point of view, unnatural between Brick and his late best friend Skipper. Though the insinuation was slight, analyzing Brick's reaction is very important because it provides insight into his insecurities. Brick assumes that Big Daddy is calling him, Brick, a homosexual and he goes into a frenzy .Brick then proceeds to call homosexuals "sisters" and "sissies". Both names are feminine and Brick's derogatory use of these female names towards himself indicates that he is protective of his masculine identity.

Brick used to play college football, that it can be called as "a ritual of American masculinity'',a gender performance in which athletes attempt to demonstrate by their practice that they are men.

If Williams is assumed that football being a "a ritual of American masculinity" then the concept of football in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof should be viewed as a contrast to the concept of homosexuality. Therefore, when Brick the football player is ever so slightly accused of being homosexual, his reaction becomes understandable. In his mind he will have proven himself a man already.

Brick besides, who feels the need to adapt to the world around him using the mendacity with the aim of concealing the truth, that truth that has come dragging for a long time is his secret romance with his friend Skipper and homosexuality could not be displayed in a world full of prejudices and therefore has to resort to drinking in order to avoid all the problems surrounding it. Brick mourns his love for Skipper, an imagined love almost mythical dimension. For Brick, is the only true and good in life . His grief is made more difficult by the desire that cannot recognize that homosexuality chased it to over the years. Theirs is a love that dare not speak its name, a love that cannot be met or discussed. So, Grandpa, who took office as a judge, force Brick to deal with this love. Brick Attempts to avoid such comments are crucial to the way that manhood is seen in the work. When Grandpa comes to what has been repressed dimly, Brick empty words of all meaning.

Ultimately, the revelation of desire in his friendship with Skipper fresh cracks Brick, his distaste for the bad language from him, only points to a fear that may be true.

2.2.2 Brick false appearance

Brick has the charm of those who have given up and assumed a posture of indifference to the world. Brick embodies an archetype of masculinity almost owns itself, untouchable, and the figure intact man. Like in the next text, Margaret express what she think of Brick 's attitude of being very cold.

Margaret: "Did anyone tell you that you're an ass-aching Puritan, Brick?" [6] 

In the note that we see is very clear how Margaret express how is Brick behavior in one word ass-aching or maybe what he is trying to show other people. In the play Brick don't show their true feelings for the fear of what can happen next.

Faced with this indifference, the characters are in the throes of desire on the part of Maggie and her mother or the state of aggression by the Grandfather, but all that is what appears to be, a being cold, calculating and rebellious, but in truth is a genuine person that we only care about good feelings, materialism does not mind the people, is what makes the difference in an materialistic family, on only cares about being at peace.Like in the next note where Brick again is trying to show how cold is he.

Brick:" I don't have to do anything I don't want to do. You keep forgetting the conditions on which I agreed to stay on living with you" [7] 

The note that we can see show their feelings about not only for Margaret also for life because here he express that he do all that he want and nothing else , he is like a rebel without a cause , trying to call attention because he never fell real love , only with his true friend Skipper.

2.2.3 Brick shelter in the alcohol

Alcohol is also the way that Brick escape from reality, is the only time when you feel alone, do not remember their problems, especially the affair with Skipper and his lack of communication with his father, who Brick made to believe that his father never really wanted and that the only thing that mattered to Big Daddy was the economic but not the love he gave to their children.


In conclusion what the author, Tennessee Williams, wants to show is that we are living in a materialistic society that only cares about appearances such as Brick does not have the courage to admit what he really is, only by the prejudices and mendacity that he can begin to submit. Brick along the play is presented as a person who is not able to identify sexually due to their psychological problems suffered when he was younger. That friendship with Skipper university has a great influence on Brick because it is there when the begins to doubt his sexuality because of those brushes he had with his friend so you should avoid this problem with alcohol that is the only method that keeps him away from Brick mendacity. Also Brick to maintain some masculinity is displayed along the work as being cold when a person is truly authentic.

This can see along the work as the prejudices take Brick to this suppose homosexuality that he doesn't want to say by the society pressure, he knows that if he says his homosexuality all the world will give the back to him.

Also these prejudices give Brick a false appearance, he wants to show a cold person that doesn't care about love , buy all of that is false because as we see for Brick the most important thing is a true friendship and true love.

The prejudices and mendacity take Brick a shelter in alcohol because he wants to evade the truth that he is carrying for a long time ago, so the only way to get away troubles is the death or the alcohol, and he took his choice by drinking.

After performing the work and discuss other books in class, we have noticed the influence of Tennessee Williams in the present, as seen in many Latin American books where they make a critique of society, like him.