• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Examine the relation between words and action in the stagecraft of Tennessee Williams

Extracts from this document...


'I think of writing as something more organic that words, something closer to being and action' Examine the relation between words and action in the stagecraft of Tennessee Williams. In 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof', Tennessee Williams uses the direct genre of drama to 'snare the truth of human experience1'. Although his main themes are s****l repression, communication breakdowns, and scandal, this essay will explain how he explores the more organic themes of defiance towards society's conventions, human relationships, and the uroboros cycle of life. He deliberately designs characters that are not entirely definable, in order to reflect reality accurately, and uses theatrical devices such as speech, movement and set, to realise the 'how' rather than the 'why' of human behaviour. Williams constructs a powerful relationship between words and actions; they conflict and collaborate to portray the thoughts and emotions of the characters, and create an atmosphere of awkward ambivalence, which offers the audience an insight into the work. Williams begins to establish an underlying sense of mystery in characters, which is reflected and enhanced by unanswered questions evoked by the play. For example, Brick is referred to as Big Mama's only child, which infers that she may not consider Gooper as family, and there is the possibility is that he is illegitimate, but this concept is not alluded to within the play. ...read more.


Williams constructs this confusion, through conflicting actions and words, as a possible explanation for the tension within this relationship and others within the work, but also to intensify the ambiguity - as even the playwright may not have made a concrete conclusion -, while exploring the pressure of social conventions. The characters in 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof' rebel against their traditional roles within society and within a family. Williams communicates a virtue in the characters' inability to be categorised, one example is Big Mama's remark to Maggie in the First Act: Big Mama: Something's not right! You're childless and my son drinks! [Someone has called her downstairs and she has rushed to the door on the line above. She turns at the door and points at the bed] - When a marriage is on the rocks, the rocks are there, right there! (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, I, 1-4) Big Mama's words are strongly exclaimed accusations are undermined by her flustered and 'rushed' movement. Williams uses the repetition of 'right there', and the excited pointing to solidify her conviction, but the image 'on the rocks' with its connotations of his alcoholism and its multifaceted explanations, is ironical as it reflects Big Daddy's words when he tells Brick not to 'throw rocks' by jumping to conclusions. ...read more.


This aspect of inevitability is relevant to other certainties in the play. For example, the audience are aware that Mae and Gooper are plotting something concerning Big Daddy's death, initially through Maggie's implication, and then by her recreation of their hushed signals at the dinner table, which are later repeated before they inform Big Mama of his true health issues and produce plans to take over the estate. The couples' behaviour, the repetition of 'cancer' and its conflicting definition, the 'spastic colon', collaborate with the troubled expressions and Big Daddy's visual physical pain, insinuate his pending death. It has been established that a close relationship exists between Williams' use of words and actions for his effective and evocative stagecraft. He uses theatrical devices such as setting, to construct an isolated representational stage that expresses and influences the attitudes and emotions of the characters, while providing an insight into events and aid this sense of inevitability. He couples the devises with speech and movement that cooperate and conflict to reveal the characters' attitudes and intentions, in order to explore relationships, social conventions, the cycle like nature of life, and produce a realistic depiction of 'human experience'. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Tennessee Williams section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Tennessee Williams essays

  1. Historical, Social and Cultural context of Tennessee Williams on 'A Streetcar Named Desire'.

    This may imply that in the sense of a forest fire they were both equally destructive, but in a positive way, as they captured the hearts of many. ? It was once said that, Arthur Miller was a politically assured poet of the conscience, whereas Tennessee Williams colonised the territory of the person.

  2. Compare the Two Act Three's in Tennessee Williams' Cat On a Hot Tin Roof.

    he echoes a line of Big Daddy's, "Wouldn't it be funny if that was true?" In this way, Brick and Margaret end Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in the way in which Tennessee Williams saw it, with their situation still up in the air, nothing resolved, nothing final.

  1. Form and Structure in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

    It about Maggie being poor and her remembering life before she married Brick. She talks about how she had to suck up to her rich family for money and the rest of Brick's family wouldn't know what that feels like.

  2. Free essay

    Explore the significance of the title of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

    Maggie acts like this because she wants children but Brick will not have them with her. Cats often walk across hot tin roofs to get to their partners who may live far away. This is, essentially, what Maggie is trying to do with Brick and hoping the result would be children.

  1. Brick says that 'Mendacity is a system we live in. Liquor is one way ...

    for mendacity emerges with the use of "c**p" in response to things he think appropriate. He speaks of how he lived with mendacity and how "there's nothing else to live with except mendacity". Brick responds with "liquor" as his way out and Big Daddy telling him that he is "dodging away from life".

  2. Cat on a hot tin roof - dramatic significance - Act 2

    Maggie was jealous of Skipper and Brick's friendship and made Skipper go to bed with her "to prove it wasn't true and when it didn't work out, he thought it was true!" Skipper had then phoned up Brick to tell him that he was gay, but Brick had hung up

  1. We shall now attempt to explain the three main parts of a dream in ...

    thereby allowing the wish to be expressed consciously while avoiding any problems a true expression of this wish would cause (Freud, 1900a). There are two fundamental mechanisms at work in the distortion process. These are Condensation and displacement. The first thing to be said about condensation is that people tend to underestimate the level of condensation that occurs in dreams.

  2. The Blanche/Stanley Conflict in Scenes I - IV of "A Streetcar Named Desire". ...

    With Stanley's inflated pride, he feels belittled. We see Stella's awareness of the sense of conflict clearly, when she asks Stanley not to mention the fact that she is pregnant in scene two.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work