Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is a play by Tennessee Williams. One of Williams's best-known works and his personal favorite, the play won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1955. Set in "the bed-sitting room of a plantation home in the Mississippi Delta" of Big Daddy Pollitt, a wealthy cotton tycoon, the play examines the relationships among his son Brick, Brick's wife Maggie the Cat, and his friendship with the late Skipper, as well as Brick and his father and other family.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof features several recurring motifs, such as social mores, superficiality, decay, sexuality's consequences, and death. Dialogue throughout is often rendered phonetically to represent accents of the American South.
The play was adapted as a motion picture by the same name in 1958, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman as Maggie and Brick, respectively. Williams made substantial excisions and alterations to the play for a revival in 1974. This has been the version used for most subsequent revivals, which have been numerous.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is the story of a Southern family in crisis, especially the husband and wife, Brick and Margaret (usually called Maggie or "Maggie the Cat"), and their interaction with Brick's family over the course of one evening gathering at the family estate in Mississippi. The party is to celebrate the birthday of patriarch "Big Daddy" Pollitt, "the Delta's biggest cotton-planter" and that he has returned from the Oschner Clinic with a clean bill of health. All family members (except Big Daddy and his wife, Big Mama) are aware that Big Daddy is dying of cancer; they have lied to Big Daddy and Big Mama to spare them pain on his birthday.
Maggie, witty and beautiful, has escaped a childhood of poverty to marry into the wealthy Pollitt family, but finds herself unfulfilled. The family is aware that Brick has not slept with Maggie in a long time, which has strained their marriage. Brick, an aging football hero, infuriates her by ignoring his brother Gooper's attempts to gain control of the family fortune. Brick's indifference and his near-continuous drinking relate to the recent suicide of his friend Skipper. Maggie fears that Brick's malaise will ensure that Gooper and his wife Mae end up with Big Daddy's inheritance.
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