Morality in Cat on a Hot tin roof

The dominant morality in Tennessee Williams’ “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” can not be discussed in terms of a single, easy-to-understand theme. Rather, I detected a number of disturbing themes in this play which, unfortunately, also seem to be present in our modern society. These themes explain much of the behavior we see today, both in our elected officials and in our own private lives. They include the willingness to engage in back-stabbing and flattery to get what we want, the attempt to escape reality by indulging in alcohol and drugs, the tendency for married couples to remaining together in meaningless or even violent relationships, and the tendency of people who become materially wealthy to turn into total jackasses. One of the most obvious moral conflicts in “Cat on a Hot Tin roof” is visible in the campaign by Gooper and Mae to gain the favor of Big Daddy, while at the same time discrediting Brick and Margaret. They try to twist the facts in order to portray themselves to Big Daddy as the most qualified heirs for the inheritance. For instance, they try to imply that just because they have five children (with a sixth on the way), they are therefore responsible family people who will take good care of the plantation. At the same time, they cleverly argue that because Brick and Margaret have no children, they would not be responsible in managing a large estate. Gooper and Mae act as a public relations team, flattering Big Daddy while tearing down their competitors at every opportunity. The excel in back-stabbing and flattery, yet they are always careful to maintain the appearance of being polite and civilized. To a lesser extent, we also see the same theme of hypocritical behavior on the part of Reverend Tooker and Doctor Baugh, both of whom engage in flattering Big Daddy in the hopes that he will include them in his will. I don’t think we have to look very far in our own world to see the consequences of a society which approves of back-stabbing and flattery as a way of “getting ahead.” All the world’s newspaper headlines are full of stories on a daily basis of politicians and other individuals in positions of responsibility who abuse and betray the people who count on them. And along with the growth of professional liars (politicians) we’ve also seen an explosive growth in numbers of lawyers whose job, of course, is to write lots of “fine print” to hold each of us accountable, because nobody’s word of honor means anything any more. Another dominant moral theme in this play, is the willingness of married partners to exploit and hurt each other. We see this unhealthy attitude toward marriage between Brick and Margaret. For instance, Brick reminds Margaret that they are living together only because she has agreed that they do so in name only. When Margaret complains that this sort of phony relationship is not what marriage should be all about, Brick coldly suggests that she go out and have an affair to keep herself sexually satisfied. Margaret, to her credit, is not willing to pursue this sort of shallow relationship. She tells him that she wishes to have a normal sexual and loving relationship with him, but that until that time she would prefer to remain “a cat on a hot tin roof,” being frustrated and angry with the whole situation but hopeful that things will change. Brick, however, as in the case of so many alcoholic wife-abusers, does not appreciate the devoted mate he has in Margaret. He is bitter and cold, and expresses his amazement that Margaret could possibly want to have a child with a man who hates her. However, amazingly, Margaret stays with him in spite of his abuse. In the real world today, we also see many relationships in which couples do not show each other the respect they should. Men continue to batter and abuse women, and society doesn’t seems to really care. On the other hand, many married women feel helpless or financially dependent and so they stay married to total jerks, hoping against hope that they can “change him”. Certainly another dominant morality we see in Williams’ play