The Pain of the Private Life
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is powerful because it constructs a vision of the private life that is not a sanctuary from the outside world.
Williams' construction of the family life is one where the same terrors and sense of hurt which is seen in the cold and cruel outside world is evident in the private realm. Big Daddy rails against mendacity is meaningful because he sees it in the outside world and in the private realm. Such a strong stance against mendacity is confirmed with the machinations that drive Gooper and Mae. Brick is unable to escape the pain from the outside world, seeing his own domestic realm as one of inescapable hell and pain. Maggie recognizes that the skills used to advance in the outside world such as keeping appearances and concealing over the truth have to be applied in the darkened realms of the bedroom and in the most intimate of moments.
The private life is not a sanctuary from hurt and suffering, but an extension of it behind closed doors. Williams was ahead of his time in addressing how our private realms can be mere appropriations of a cruel and hurt-filled world. In seeking to illuminate a new dimension of what the private world can possess, Williams explores the pain of the private life with precision and depth.