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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Theme Exploration 2: Cat On a Hot Tin Roof

     In life, there are certain subjects the general public just don't speak of readily in a conversation. In Tennessee Williams' play, Cat On a Hot Tin Roof, many taboo subjects are established looming over the main characters, such as inevitable death, intimacy issues in marriage, and a homosexual past. Williams' goal in this play is to capture the build-up of these secrets being bottled up and the eventual explosion that occurs when these issues are brought to light. This signals the play's true theme to the reader - keeping the taboo issues in one's family hidden under a cloak of mendacity only leads to chaos and discomfort. Put more simply, lying to one's own family about a hefty, embarrassing issue only brings about an unstable relationship between that person and that person's family. 
     The theme starts to become clear to the reader when Brick and Big Daddy are discussing what's been driving Brick to alcoholism. In the conversation, Brick claims he drinks to kill the disgust he has with the mendacity in the world, to which Big Daddy eventually exclaims, "You been passing the buck. This disgust with mendacity is disgust with yourself" (127)!  They had been talking about lies being the foundation of their family, especially Brick's homosexual past. The true mendacity in this play is not just in Brick, but the whole family. Each, like real families, struggle keeping secrets from each other, which one can see leads to eventual chaos, as the play closes with Big Daddy contemplating his death and Maggie attempting to sleep with Brick at Big Daddy's party. Williams' captures the true chaos of not only the taboo being discussed in public but also the effect it has when kept secret for too long. They say the truth will set you free. However, the if kept for too long, the truth will only ruin things and disrupt the friendly flow you have with your family. All Williams' wanted to portray was that sensitive issues can be tolerated when brought to light sooner.
     In the world in which we all live, there is a great cloak of mendacity being pulled off and finally exposed to the light. Issues people once kept heavily hidden under wraps are becoming easier and easier to discuss. Williams' true intent of writing this play was simply to wake people up. Just because the general public doesn't readily talk about an idea doesn't mean it will go away when ignored. In fact, it's pure mendacity.

Word Count: 400 (minus passage citation)

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