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Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Play/ Film

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In fact, even the text of the play itself, reflecting perhaps William’s own personal ambiguities about the play’s challenging subject matter, has been changed a number of times in order to account for the themes of sexual and relational identity and honesty (Arrell 2008, p.62). In this brief paper, the story’s handling of sexual themes and family decadence will be considered in light of some of these long-term developments to show how the issues the story raises have been handled on stage, in cinema and through critical analysis in the literature as an important piece of American culture. Tennessee Williams, when he wrote Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, was fast becoming recognized as perhaps America’s most important playwright. Having come from a family that hailed from the South, he grew up in the same traditions of exaggerated masculinity and acculturated violence that such writers as Faulkner did. Although he spent much of his youthful life in the Midwest, his dysfunctional family, and especially his hard-drinking brutal father carried the attitudes of the Deep South. He was constantly admonished as a child for his soft and effeminate ways by a father who rejected his lack of masculinity. When he sat down as an adult to write his plays, therefore, he often dealt with such themes in ways that showed the prejudice and hypocrisy of Southern lifestyle and the cultural attitudes that sprung from it. His work, although often set in such locales, however, was not bound by them in theme or content. Joseph Riddel claims, for instance, in an essay on his play A Streetcar Named Desire that Williams wrote in such a way that he told stories of often quaint, smallish characters dealing with inner struggle but he told them with such brutal reality that he made the themes of their lives explode into the universal (Riddel 1987, pp 13-16). This tendency is at least in part due to the fact that Williams grew up in the Depression era and viewed the world through a perspective that saw the problems with capitalism, conventional cultural attitudes and the like played out on small scales. Esther Merle Jackson describes the effect that this side of his background had on Williams as one of being both disturbing and enervating at the same time. Her article on the use by Williams of symbolism and metaphor describes the way that Williams came, through the confluence of his background, to weave together a myth-making ability that synthesized his dark vision of American life and culture into a supreme storytelling ability (Jackson 1987, pp 38-42). Such ability was recognized early in his career, but when he wrote Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, it was largely admitted by both critics and the viewing public that he was coming into the height of his powers. The story of the play as written by Williams in its initial theatrical release revolved around the characters of Brick and Maggie and the lies they tell each other and themselves. Brick is portrayed as a former athletic star who has lost much of his one-time