“Cat On A Hot Tin Roof,” Written by Tennessee Williams is an excellent play about a troubled family that is dealing with buried acts of deception, conflict and tension. Along with these problems comes sexuality and sex, a very important aspect of the play which increases the dramatic effect. The pressure between husband and wife created by sexual tensions. The need for Brick to be seen as a man by repressing homosexual feelings from the world by turning to the effects of alcohol. Maggie’s sexual frustration with her husband who refuses to show her the passion she is longing. The frustration Big Daddy feels from not being sexually attracted to his wife. The relationship between Big Daddy and Brick, how they are more alike then they seem to be. These are among the main problems concerning sexuality escalating dramatic tension in this play.
The sexual tension between Brick and Maggie is one of the most commonly occurring conflicts throughout the play. Brick and Maggie are a couple in the play who have two opposite feelings for each other. In Act 1 Maggie says to Brick “You look so cool, so cool, so enviably cool” the quote presents Brick to be represented to the audience as a man who is self contained, cool, untouchable and perfect physically. He physically embodies a real man. Maggie see’s herself as a women who is dissatisfied, ignored, and exhausted from sharing her desires with Brick as he does not feel the same way. Maggie refers to herself as a cat on a hot tin roof loving someone knowing that the love cannot be returned. Maggie confession to Brick about their relationship only increases the tensions between the two characters and forces Maggie to question their friendship for something much stronger. Maggie becomes bitter and anxious like a cat, she takes into account that without Brick’s love she will remain childless, and that they will be less favored to Big Daddy his heir and their position in his household will be put at risk.
Brick, self concerned and rugged. Throughout the play, Brick continues to wash away all of his troubles and problems by drinking excessively. This is a problem that he has developed to separate himself from the problems. “One man has one great good true thing in his life. One great good thing which is true! I had a friendship with Skipper. You are naming it dirty!” This quote from Act 1 shows Brick acting out at Maggie for implying that his and Skippers relationship was more than just a friendship. This is the first time these implications are made and the first time in the play that Brick looses his cool, he links thoughts of homosexuality with disgust. This shows that the implications could be true, because when Maggie shares her own sexual approach, he reacts in a cool, calm and a completely removed manner, not showing any signs of concern. “You two had something that had to be kept on ice, yes, incorruptible, yes!” Maggie continues on about Brick’s relationship with Skipper, forcing Brick to acknowledge the fact that he did have homosexual feelings for his best friend rather than continuously mourning his death over the fact that his feelings had to be kept in secret from society. Bricks main goal is to keep his masculinity intact “Why can’t exceptional friendship..Between two men be respected” Brick is disturbed by the fact that his desire is jeopardizing his masculinity, something that he cannot throw away because of sharing the possibility of his homosexuality.
Big Daddy, the large “Mississippi Redneck” is the millionaire father of the family, effected with cancer unknowingly. Brick is the only one who knows, and hides it. Big Daddy believes that he has come back from the dead, realizing that his money cannot buy him happiness. His sexual life is now brought back into the picture. He was never pleased with his wife and did not love her the time they were married, he wants to explore sex again now that he has a second chance. This is much like Brick and Maggie’s current relationship, except Brick’s preference in gender, showing how alike Brick is to his father. He has a strong affection for his son Brick, who reminds him very much of himself. For this reason he wants Brick to be the heir to his throne. The only way to achieve this is if Brick and Maggie provide a grandchild for Big Daddy to continue his legacy. Although the possibility of this grandchild in unlikely because of Brick and Maggie’s sexual relationship. “Now, hold on.. I knocked around in my time” When Big Daddy finally learns the truth about his son’s sexuality he confesses his experimentation as a growing man, it is here that Brick and Big Daddy are more alike than ever. Now that the truth behind Brick’s sexuality is revealed he tells Big Daddy that he is still dying from cancer. “You told me! I told you!” As a result of Big Daddy forcing Brick to face his homosexuality, Brick forces Big Daddy to receive the news of his inevitable death. Now Big Daddy is occupying the position that Brick has just gotten out of, Brick is revealing and Big Daddy is receiving.
Sexuality and sex in this play does increase the dramatic tension between the characters. It is something that effects everyone in the play somehow. The examples above are only three of many others. The relationship between Maggie and Brick, is almost completely dependent on Bricks sexuality, even his excessive drinking is strongly related to his sexuality. He knows that he cannot be the heir to Big Daddy without a child, yet still chooses not to engage in sexual relations with Maggie. This makes Maggie greatly concerned about her place in the household. Big Daddy comes to a sort of revelation, thinking he has been given a second life. He acts cruel with his wife, because he accepts the fact that he never truly loved her and has been hiding his sexual appetite their entire marriage. The dramatic effect in this play is lead by sexuality and sex, it acts as foundation that builds up to vital events in the play.