Cat On A Hot Tin Roof English Literature – ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams. Describe the relationship between Maggie and Brick. When the play opens, we are introduced to a pretty young woman who is shouting. This woman, goes by the name of Margaret, and lets the audience know right from the beginning that if ever she has a problem, she’ll let you know about it. As we read through the first Act of this three Act play, we learn very quickly that the relationship between Margaret, and her husband Brick is one sided – with all the effort coming from Maggie.
It is clear their relationship wouldn’t be considered ‘normal’ because of their attitudes towards each other, or rather, Brick’s attitude towards his wife. The first few pages indicate that Maggie is extremely talkative, with Brick hardly being able to get a sentence in edgeways, however, it later becomes apparent that Brick isn’t all too bothered about getting his view across to his loquacious wife. The first conversation we see take place between Brick and Maggie – well, conversation in that Maggie went on and on and Brick would occasionally answer. The conversation concerns Brick’s sister’s children, or the no-neck monsters as Maggie so eloquently calls them. She moans about her nieces and nephews for quite a while with Brick asking ‘without interest’, What are they up to, Maggie? This conversation drags on for a while, with Maggie complaining about the children running around and screaming their heads off.
However, what is most interesting about the entire, long-winded conversation is that Brick shows no interest in either Maggie, or what she has to say. He almost seems fed up and indifferent to anything she mentions. When it comes to discussing the children’s parents – Brick’s sister and brother-in-law, Mae and Gooper, we learn Maggie’s feelings on this particular subject, as Maggie likes to make her views known. She thinks they’ve simply brought the kids round to show off to Brick’s father, Big Daddy and to show up the fact that Maggie and Brick are totally childless and therefore totally useless! She lets us know her thoughts by telling Brick it’s so obvious what they’re up to! and when he finally appears from out of the bathroom he says to Maggie No, I don’t know what they’re up to. as if he couldn’t care less either.
She finally lets us all know what she thinks Mae and Gooper are plotting, she tells Brick, they’re up to cutting you out of your father’s estate and then drops the bombshell -Now we know Big Daddy’s dyin’ of – cancer As an audience, we expect Brick to take to the news badly, however, his only reaction is to ask Do weKnow Big Daddy’s dyin’ of cancer? When Maggie tell him that they received the report just that day, he simply says Oh This now only leaves us to believe that Brick doesn’t care who benefits from the inheritance money, but more importantly, isn’t all that bothered about his father’s inevitable death. We can only assume that if he does care, and is upset about it, he doesn’t want to let Maggie know, even though she is his wife. This gives off a huge sense of distance between them. Maggie continues to talk and talk for another page at least, with Brick laying down on his bed, and then rolling over carefully on his side. This laid back attitude gives off a strong sense of not caring at all. He seems to dismiss everything his wife says, only asking Did you say something, Maggie? Brick’s absent remarks are always lacking of any attention whatsoever.
In this relationship, the only one who seems to have any problems with silences is Maggie. It is almost as if the silences are so deafening for her that she has to fill them, even if it is with her own voice. Her non- responsive husband never seems to notice how much she talks because he’s never paying any attention to her. It is as if he’s living in his own world, and she just happens to be there. There are even times when Brick will be looking straight through Maggie, a look, she describes that froze my blood.
It is these little things that amount to a lot, as they are so significant in this relationship. Brick himself doesn’t even notice that he is looking through her in a way to suggest she wasn’t even in the room, as when she questions Why are you looking at me like that? he innocently asks Like what, Maggie? This one look that has Maggie completely disorientated, has not even passed through Brick’s mind – he wasn’t even conscious of looking at her. This look has really affected Maggie, as she almost breaks down, she admits to Brick I get – lonely. Very! Here we get the first admission on Maggie’s part that something may even slightly be wrong with their marriage as she desperately tries to explain to her unconcerned husband that Living with someone you love can be lonelier – that living entirely alone! – if the one you love doesn’t love you Brick, to both Maggie’s surprise and the audience’s, asks Would you like to live alone, Maggie? What’s more is that Brick asks her this, most hurtful question without even looking at her. This question again shows the marriage at such a weak and fragile point. It seems irreparable. Maggie screams No1 – God! – I wouldn’t! and the quick change of subject from living alone to Did you have a nice shower suggests without a doubt that Maggie cannot bear to discuss things which may damage her situation or hurt her.
It is too much for her to handle. She turns the conversation right around, and this time, adds a somewhat sexual twist. Ongoing with the subject of the shower, Maggie asks a series of questions to which Brick, as always, gives one-word answers. Did you have a nice shower?, Was the water cool? and Made y’feel fresh, huh? She suggests an alcohol rub but Brick makes up the excuse that he hasn’t been workin’ out. At this point in the play, we are given our first insight into their sexual life, as Brick quickly made up an excuse to refuse the alcohol rub, which Maggie only suggested so as to make him feel fresher.
She mentions to him You were such a good lover the fact that she uses the word were says it all really, and makes it very clear that they haven’t made love in a while. Through reading this much of the story, and realising that Brick isn’t in fact the most doting husband in the world, it is safe to assume that Brick was the reason they weren’t making love. He simply didn’t want her. She is obviously in the hopes that he’ll forget about any problems between them and make love to her right then and there. She tells him If I thought you would never, never, never make love to me again – I would go downstairs and pick out the longest, sharpest knife I could find and stick it straight through my heart. She literally says if he never made love to her again, she’d commit suicide. It just shows the one-sided nature of this relationship, Maggie craves affection, and Brick is nonchalant about everything his wife manages to throw his way.
Even with his own father’s deadly illness, when Maggie announces his father has cancer, he lets out no emotion. Maggie gives us clear evidence of Brick’s non-caring attitude when she says herself Your indifference made you wonderful at lovemaking. She seems to be trying to convince everyone but herself. Later on in the Act, it becomes apparent that Brick and Maggie are staying together under unknown terms – unknown that is, to us as yet. Brick makes it clear to Maggie I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do. and then telling her you keep forgetting the conditions on which I agreed to stay living with you.
Here we assume that Brick had given Maggie some ultimatum to which Maggie, in her desperate attempt to save this marriage had agreed on abiding by. The turning point of the Act though, comes when Maggie, in her usual mode of talking screams I feel all the time like a cat on a hot tin roof! Brick roars back, Then jump off the roof and he suggests for her to Take a lover!. This leaves the audience feeling stunned, however, Maggie just continues, not pausing at what’s just been said, but carrying on to say I can’t see a man but you! Even with my eyes closed I just see you! This gives the audience a clear indication of her devotion to this marriage, about how desperate she is to get it back on track. Nevertheless Brick is none the moved, he says his piece with such dismissal. As if Maggie hadn’t already resorted to desperate methods, she now tried making him jealous, by telling him Other men still want me. She recalls the story about when she was at a party and the best lookin’ man in the crowd – followed me upstairs and tried to force his way in the powder room with me.
Instead of Brick getting angry because some other man was trying to have his way with his wife, Brick asks why didn’t you let him in? Throughout the Act we are given snippets of the idea that Maggie desperately wants children, the last in the Act comes when she mentions to Brick that she’s been to a gynaecologist, who has told her there is no reason they can’t have children whenever they want one. Brick’s response to this, is somewhat of a summation of everything that has been brewing in this first Act. He responds by asking her very simply how in hell on earth do you imagine – that you’re going to have a child by a man that can’t stand you? And there it is. He can’t stand her. Brick and Maggie’s relationship is like a tiny little sailboat in the middle of a huge ocean during a storm – it may take a miracle. English Essays.