From Heteronormative Masculinity to Homosexuality in Tennessee Williams’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

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Abstract

This critical analysis of Tennessee Williams’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955) addresses the shift and disintegration of models of white masculinity in the play’s mid-20th century South. My discussion focus on specific elements concerning the construction of masculinity and its theatrical representation, crossing fields such as gay, lesbian, and queer studies. Tennessee Williams’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof offers a complex portrayal of acceptance of a character’s presumable homosexuality by himself and by those around him. On the one hand, in the construction of this character, Williams subverts traditional representations of masculinity, and on the other hand, Williams places the homosexual desire and the secrecy around homosexuality in front of the audience as a central problematic of the play. Thus, at the centre of my analysis is Williams’s critical depictions of different models of modern maleness (embodied not only by Brick, but also by Skipper, Jack Straw and Peter Orchello), and the questioning effect that these representations cause in the audience. Offering an analysis on the historical, the political and the personal context of the play, one can look at the ways by which this dramatic text is built as a reaction to the hegemonic heteronormative structure that overwhelms homosexual desire, and the ways by which this same reaction produces a contestation of what the audiences know or believe regarding gay male identities, questioning at the same time established notions of homosocial behaviour and hegemonic masculinity.
Translated title of the contributionFrom Heteronormative Masculinity to Homosexuality in Tennessee Williams’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Original languageOther
Pages (from-to)105-122
Number of pages18
JournalOp.Cit.: A Journal of Anglo-American Studies
Volume11
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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