How is loneliness a theme in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof?
Ashley Kannan | Certified Educator
Loneliness is a theme in Williams' work because it is something that the main characters endure in their interactions with others and their own sense of self. Brick is an example of the theme of loneliness in that his drinking and his own sexual abstinence are ways in which he represents being lonely. His "moral paralysis" results from his inability to interact with others in a meaningful manner. He cannot understand the emotional timbre of his father and he fails to recognize the condition of his wife and what he is doing to her. Brick's loneliness results in his own inability to interact with people in an honest and sincere manner. Maggie's loneliness is evident in that she is unable to forge an authentic relationship with her husband that enables her not to feel estranged from others. At the same time, her loneliness arises from an economic condition where she only feels connected, to a large extent, to money and financial wealth. Her being of loneliness is self- described as being "consumed with envy and eaten up with longing." Big Daddy's loneliness comes in the form of not being able to trust people. Constantly in fear and in disdain of "lies," Big Daddy finds himself estranged from people as a result of it. In this, Big Daddy is able to represent loneliness in his constant mistrust of others in a world of lies. Not being able to take the leap of faith in trusting the intentions of those around him causes Big Daddy to live in a world of loneliness, with only his perceived embrace of truth to accompany him. In these instances, the main characters of Williams' work represent the theme of loneliness and help drive the play because of it.