Big Daddy and the American Dream in Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin RoofTennessee William’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is a thought-provoking play that explores human relationships of all kinds. The character of Brick is forced to examine the relationship with his friend, Skipper, his wife, his family, and himself. Other characters, Gooper, Mae, and Big Mama, demonstrate stifling marriage relationships. Big Daddy, though, is one of the most interesting characters in that he illustrates the strange relationship one can have with one’s possessions. Watt and Richardson, the editors, state that the play is about “acquisitiveness.” That is, the acquiring of material possessions is central to the play, and this family. The Pollitts own a plantation home on the Mississippi Delta. Their house is a key figure in the work as much as any of the characters are in that it encapsulates the family’s legacy of secrecy. To begin with, there is the central staging area of Brick and Maggie’s bedroom. This room was once shared by the former owners, two men, a fact that seems to haunt Brick. Williams describes the decor of the room in some detail. He is most occupied with the “console combination of radio-phonograph, TV set and liquor cabinet.” He seems incredulous at the size and symbolism in this possession. He writes, “This piece of furniture (?!), this monument, is a very completer and compact little shrine to virtually all the comforts and illusions behind which we hide from such things as the characters in the play are faced with . . .” (Williams 660). He is quite right. Not only does Brick hide behind the liquor in the cabinet, his true crutch, but the furniture does exemplify all the modern conveniences that many p.
. .system that he speaks of is more than the lying and liars that immediately surround him; it is not just his family. The system that he lives in is materialism. He has bought into the American dream, in effect capitalism, and has at last found it lacking. Yet it is doubtful that this revelation will truly change Big Daddy in the way he lives his last days. For Williams’ words concerning Brick ring true for Daddy as well. He writes, “I don’t believe a conversation, however relevatory, ever effects so immediate a change in the heart or even conduct of a person” (706 act 3). Big Daddy is trapped in his American dream even as it has become his nightmare. Work Cited Williams, Tennessee. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. In Stages of Drama: Classical to Contemporary Theater. Ed. Carl H. Klaus, Miriam Gilvert, and Bradford S. Field, Jr., 4th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin?s, 1999.