Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Questions and Answers
by Tennessee Williams

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Is Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams a feminist tragedy?

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Dolly Doyle eNotes educator | Certified Educator


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While some elements of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof could be considered feminist in interest, the play itself isn't very interested in feminist concerns, which deal with the problems of women in a male-dominated society. Though Maggie's place in the family is a troubled one, she is not the protagonist of the play. Her estranged husband Brick is the central figure, squaring off against his father Big Daddy.

As the other answer mentions, the play is more interested in the oppressed position of gay people in a society where any deviation from heterosexuality is punished. Brick was in love with his friend Skipper, who committed suicide and he is still traumatized by the event. Even though he's married to Maggie, he has no sexual interest in her. His identity as a "straight" man is only a performance for the benefit of his social place and he is so depressed that he is losing interest in even trying to put up with the charade.

The few feminist themes there are come in with how Maggie's place in the family is dependent upon her ability to get pregnant. She is contrasted with the fertile Mae, who has several children with the intent purpose of securing inheritance from Big Daddy. However, these themes are subordinate to the gay themes.

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Lynnette Wofford eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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"Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" by Tennessee Williams is not really a feminist drama. Although any play can be read from a feminist perspective, to call it a feminist drama presumes some intention on the part of the playwright to focus explicitly and sympathetically on the plight of women oppressed by a patriarchal society.

This play could more accurately be termed, as is usually read as, part of gay literature, as the central tragedy is that of two young gay men driven into alcoholism (Brick) and suicide (Skipper). Although this does place Maggie in a difficult situation, and she is a very interesting character, she seems subordinated to the gay themes of the play.

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