Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

*Mississippi Delta

*Mississippi Delta. Fertile farming region of the western part of the state of Mississippi that is bordered by the Mississippi River. Brick and Maggie’s plantation is located in this region, which is dominated by large cotton plantations and strong family traditions. One of these traditions is to pass family plantations from fathers to eldest sons, but only to sons who have children to continue the tradition. In Tennessee Williams’s play, Brick’s father, Big Daddy Pollitt, is dying. He wishes to leave the plantation to Brick but hesitates because Brick has become a drunkard, and his wife, Maggie, has yet to produce the necessary grandson to carry on the Delta tradition.

Plantation house

Plantation house. Home of Brick and Maggie, whose large and beautiful bedroom opens on a veranda that encircles the second floor of the house. The room is clearly fit for important people to occupy and hold court; by the end of the play, the entire seventeen member cast has been received there. Also the place in which marriages are celebrated, the room is ironically a soft and beautiful prison in which Maggie’s desire for Brick goes unrequited. No matter how she appeals to Brick to make love, he rejects her, thereby turning their bedroom into a place where Maggie feels tormented, trapped like a cat on a hot tin roof.

Historical Context

(Drama for Students)

Domestic Life in the 1950s
The year of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof's debut, 1955, was an interesting time for male...

(The entire section is 590 words.)

Literary Style

(Drama for Students)

1958 Film Adaptation Published by Gale Cengage

Symbolism is the use of objects to evoke concepts or ideas. Williams has often been accused of excessive...

(The entire section is 805 words.)

Compare and Contrast

(Drama for Students)

1955: In the United States, only 34% of women between the ages of 20 and 54 work outside of the home. Most married women are...

(The entire section is 215 words.)

Topics for Further Study

(Drama for Students)

Why does Maggie's announcement that she is pregnant seem like a viable solution to her? Will it solve her and Brick's problems?


(The entire section is 98 words.)

Media Adaptations

(Drama for Students)

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof was adapted for film in 1958 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). It was written (with Jame Poe) and directed...

(The entire section is 154 words.)

What Do I Read Next?

(Drama for Students)

King Lear, William Shakespeare's tragedy about a king who disperses his kingdom to his daughters only to find...

(The entire section is 176 words.)

Bibliography and Further Reading

(Drama for Students)

Ashton, Roger. "Correspondence Back on a Hot Tin Roof" in the New Republic, April 25, 1955, p. 23....

(The entire section is 319 words.)


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Bloom, Harold, ed. Tennessee Williams. New York: Chelsea House, 1987. A collection of critical essays that includes thorough discussions of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Ruby Cohn, who examines themes and characters; Robert Heilman, who explores different “levels” of the play; and Esther Jackson, who focuses on the play’s symbolism.

Falk, Signi Lenea. Tennessee Williams. 2d ed. Boston: Twayne, 1978. A useful introduction to Williams and his works. Summarizes critical assessments of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

Hirsch, Foster. A Portrait of the Artist: The Plays of Tennessee Williams. Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat Press, 1979. An overview of Williams’ work and career. Concludes that Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is “dishonest” but well crafted.

Spoto, Donald. The Kindness of Strangers: The Life of Tennessee Williams. Boston: Little, Brown, 1985. A thorough biography that includes critical commentary. Argues that Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is a deliberately ambiguous yet “compassionate” play.

Williams, Tennessee. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. New York: New Directions, 1955. A useful edition that contains both versions of Act III and commentary by Williams in which he explains why he wrote the second ending.