Freudian approaches to Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof I will discuss how Freudian theory ties in with the issues featuring in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Sigmund Freud the founder of psychoanalysis came up with a theory of the unconscious mind, he identified that sexual desires are the primary motivational energy of human life. William shows this in play by Margaret’s sexual desires for Brick keeps her energy up and gets her to keep trying to get Brick’s affection. Big Daddy and Big Mama have fears and anxieties about Margaret and Bricks lack of children, and so does Margaret herself because she wants a share of the plantation.
However this does not worry Mae and Gooper who are more than happy that they are prime candidates to become the owner of the plantation, Mae especially enjoy sneer at the fact that Margaret is childless “Mae: she’s childless because that big beautiful athlete of hers won’t go to bed with her” (97). The family especially Big Daddy and Maggie have doubts about Brick’s sexuality and try to confront him about it. Brick: “You think that me and Skipper were a pair of dirty old men? ” (pg 77).
Symbolism definitely shown in ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’, Bricks crutch can symbolise that he needs support, “Brick: no just give me my crutch” (27). The crutch can be seen as symbol that Brick is weak without skipper hence needs support. But it can also represent the fact that Brick has lost his masculinity ‘Brick: I’m getting softer Maggie’ (pg 31) and the crutch is his masculinity hence why he cannot go anywhere without it. The alcohol symbolises that Brick is trying to escape reality by making himself unconscious or in his words the ‘click’ which he says to be when he is peaceful with himself.
However the excessive drinking by Brick can also mean that Brick cannot cope without Skipper. Repression of homosexuality in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof ties in with Sigmund Freud ideology, as Brick represses his feeling towards Skipper Brick: “I had friendship with Skipper – you are naming it dirty! ” (pg 42). Repression is a defence mechanism and there are two stages, firstly the desires are pushed out from conscious into unconscious but this does not work for Brick as his feeling still surface. So the second line of defence is started this is where Brick is at in the book.
Williams shows Brick as being reluctant to come out about his sexuality because he is brought up in an upper class family. One type of second line defence is overcompensation which is when a weakness is covered up by overcompensating on something else, in Bricks case is excessive sport. Then comes projection which is when you blame someone else; Brick blames “Maggie(79)” because she got “the idea (79)” that Brick and Skipper relationship was abnormal and that one reason why Skipper committed suicide.
Then comes denial when protecting you from unpleasant reality which is seen in Brick as he tries to deny the truth when Big Daddy talks about it. Brick “YOU THINK SO TOO? You think me an skipper did sodomy”(77). Brick tries to justify it was Maggie who put dirty things into Skipper minding doubting himself about his sexuality, Brick trying to repress any arguments down to Margaret being jealous. Brick comes from an upper-class family who are highly respected from other people. The time when the story was set (1955) was a time when homosexuals were looked down upon and brought shame to their family.
Brick is from a rich family, so he hides his sexuality so not to embarrass himself or his family, and marries Maggie to show that he is a man and tries to show his masculinity by being an athlete. Death features massively in the play, especially for Big Daddy who has cancer yet has been lied to by the family saying that he has a spastic colon. Big Daddy is also in denial because he himself knows everything is not alright because of the pain yet is putting a front on. Big Daddy and Big Mama have been told that he does not have cancer when he does and the only people that know are Mae and Gooper and Brick and Maggie.
Big Mama is told her husband still has cancer later, but she says “it’s all a mistake” (93). Skipper is dead which makes Brick angry and blames his wife for the death. Margaret say is begging for Brick attention when she says “Skipper is dead! I am alive! “, but Brick does not want to believe that Skipper is dead “I tried to kill your Aunt Maggie, but I failed. ” Brick definitely does not love Maggie and is shown in different way for example[She kisses Brick on the mouth which he immediately wipes with the back of his hand, (55pg).
Bricks sexual desire keep surfacing no matter how much he is trying to suppress, so he tries to get his manhood back by jumping hurdles at the school athletic field but ends up fracturing his ankle. It shows that Brick is weak and helpless without Skipper. But also can be also interpreted to show Freud theory of sexual desires becomes energy for human life. Freud theory can relate to Cat on a Hot Tin Roof because unconscious and sexual desire relate to the character Brick who is trying to suppress his abnormal feeling from conscious to unconscious. In addition there is fear of death by Big Daddy and there are sexual desires.