Cat on a Hot Tin Roof


Tennessee Williams

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Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Themes

Themes and Colors
Lies Theme Icon
Unrequited Love and Sexuality Theme Icon
Death Theme Icon
Difficulty of Communication Theme Icon
Memory, Nostalgia, Regret Theme Icon
Wealth Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.


During Brick and Big Daddy’s major confrontation in Act II, Brick confesses that he drinks out of disgust with society’s pervasive “mendacity,” which he describes as the system in which people live. The system of lies he is referring to pertains to the way society represses and lies about “inadmissible things.” In the world of the play, there are two inadmissible things: homosexuality and death, and the action of the play resolves around the repression…

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Unrequited Love and Sexuality

The unrequited love in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof centers on the male characters, especially Brick and Big Daddy. Brick is the object of unrequited love for his wife Margaret, his friend Skipper, and his parents Big Daddy and Big Mama. Their energies—sometimes sexual, sometimes protective—propel most of the confrontations in the play, as they bounce off the cold, distant character of Brick. There are other instances of unrequited love as…

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Homosexuality is one of the two things that Brick calls an "inadmissible thing". The other is death, and it is explored primarily through the character of Big Daddy. Big Daddy believes that men, particularly wealthy men, have a single overriding goal, which is to not die. He believes that every purchase wealthy men make as being a sort of hopeful but doomed-to-fail effort to buy more life. After getting the positive health report, he seems…

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Difficulty of Communication

Big Daddy and Brick also discuss how difficult it is to communicate with others and especially with each other. Although they both speak, nothing seems to get through. As the play progresses, we see that this is true for all the characters. In the stage directions, they’re constantly overlapping each other’s words, interrupting, and ignoring others. The difficulty of communication is even evident in how long it takes to get everyone to organize around Big

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Memory, Nostalgia, Regret

The happiest moments in the play are the moments that exist in the past, as the characters recall their prior existences. Both Margaret and Brick reference the beginning of their marriage as a happy time, for example, though their present reality proves to be anything but happy. Brick also drinks because he can’t let go of his relationship with Skipper—and his role in Skipper’s decline and death. Brick also speaks about how people like to…

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Wealth is the biggest issue for Margaret, Mae, and Gooper, bringing them together for Big Daddy’s birthday celebration. Mae and Gooper cozy up to Big Mama and Big Daddy, hoping to inherit the plantation, while Margaret desperately tries to keep the family from judging Brick’s alcoholism and her own childlessness, so that Big Daddy will still choose to hand his land over to his favorite son, Brick. Margaret, in particular, mentions that…

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