Themes and Meanings

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

The Rose Tattoo concerns itself with several of Tennessee Williams’s major themes, especially the importance of sex as the vital key to all human relations, and the ability of women to see this reality much more clearly than men. Serafina is the most obvious bearer of this message, as she revels in her pregnancy early in the play and on more than one occasion brags about the rich sexual life she and Rosario share. In fact, whenever she speaks of Rosario, her speech is in terms of their unquenchable sexual desire for each other. When Rosario is killed and the object of her desire is removed, Serafina completely disintegrates, both physically and mentally, and becomes almost inhuman in her slatternly appearance and bizarre behavior. Her connection with Rosario is so strong that she defies the Roman Catholic Church and keeps his ashes in a kind of shrine, equating them with the statue of the Virgin Mary. Rosario becomes a kind of god to her, and she speaks of how she holds him in her arms in her dreams and memories, which are more important to her than anything in the world of the living.

Serafina also attempts to control her daughter Rosa’s sexuality, locking her in the house naked so she cannot leave to meet Jack, her sailor boyfriend. The fact that Rosa is kept naked calls attention to her entry into the world of adult sexual desire. Serafina also makes Jack kneel before a statue of Mary to pledge that he will respect Rosa’s purity. Later...

(The entire section is 436 words.)


(Drama for Students)

One of Serafina’s defining characteristics is her pride. She is excessively proud of her husband, Rosario, and seems to...

(The entire section is 857 words.)