For example, the whole play is situated around the bedroom sitting area to put forward a key theme of the play: sexuality. If the setting wasnt relevant to themes of the play, the audience would find it difficult to fully understand key elements of the play that Tennessee Williams was trying to put across. The bed sitting room in which the play is based around belongs to Brick and Maggie, two main characters. The irony of this being that bedrooms are assumed to be private and personal, yet its the most invaded room in the house.
A prime example being when Big Mama, Bricks mother enters the bedroom, commenting on how she hates locked doors in a house¦ Maggies responds lightly by stating that ¦ people have got to have some moments of privacy, only to receive the invasive and ignorant reply No, maam, not in my house. Even as early as Act One, we witness the couples privacy being denied. The bed sitting room is also where many secrets of the family are eavesdropped on and later revealed. Again, as early as the start of Act One, Maggie reveals that The walls in this place have ears, clearly, its not only Big Mama being prying into the couples affairs.
Its also greatly ironic that the scorching heat outside is completely conflicting to the heat inside Maggie and Bricks bedroom. It becomes increasingly apparent as the play develops that there are blatant problems facing the couples sexual relationship, again emphasising the recurring themes of sexuality, homosexuality and mendacity. The fact that the play is based around the bedroom of Brick and Maggie also helps the audience gain a better understanding of their characters, especially Bricks. Not once throughout the entire script does Brick approach another character; its always the other characters that approach him.
This shows the audience how reserved Brick is and how he likes to keep himself to himself, despite him being in such high demand with his fellow family members. These qualities of Brick are vital in the understanding of the plays plot. The geographical setting of the play also greatly affects the dramatic impact. The play is set in the irritatingly hot Mississippi Delta, symbolising both the argumentative tension between characters such as Mae and Maggie and also the sexual tension between characters like Maggie and Brick. The plantation itself is relevant to meanings behind the play and its dramatic impact.
Being built on very fertile land, the plantation shows the irony of Maggies great desire to become pregnant, contrasting with Mae who has six, irritating children. It also reinforces that the family are staying on Big Daddys property. Big Daddy has the power over both his wife and his sons, for its his decision as to who will inherit the land. Ill tell you what theyre up to, boy of mine! Theyre up to cutting you out of your fathers estate¦ The question of which son gains Big Daddys estate occurs regularly, causing conflict between the two couples.
Whilst enhancing dramatic impact, it also represents the themes of mendacity and money. The history of the plantation itself relates strongly to the theme of homosexuality. Two homosexual men (Peter Ochello and Jack Straw) used to own and live on the plantation whilst Big Daddy worked there. With no family to pass the land onto, they handed it over to their loyal employee, Big Daddy. Knowing the history behind the place, the audience almost expects the theme of homosexuality to occur once again and indeed it does, this time with Brick and his friend Skipper.
The South itself is also relevant to the plays dramatic impact and putting it into context. With knowledge of the Civil War, slavery and enormous amounts of racism that took place in the South which was to some extent still very much present in the time the play was set, the audience is able to gain a better understanding of smaller characters and their relevance. Language is used for example that today would be considered racist such as when it says A negro voice answers. The black servants are mere voices in the play because of the scripts context.
The Souths battle to cling onto slavery is reflected in the characters when some try desperately to cling onto their past. For example when Brick tells Big Daddy ¦ Skipper and I went into pro-football after we left Ole Miss because we were scared to grow up¦ The family values in which the play is set on is responsible for a lot of dramatic impact. Mae and Goopers lack of family values and determination to do whatever it takes to inherit Big Daddys plantation contrasts wonderfully with Big Mamas determination for everybody to get along with one another, We must all love each other¦
The great contrast allows the audience to delve, even further into the themes of money and family. Its shown through the plays entirety that money values only destroy families. The sexual values of the time were to have lots of babies as May and Maggie show us. May is constantly competing with Maggie, using the fact that shes childless to win arguments, Maggie , honey, if you had children of you own youd know how funny that is¦ Maggie also feels the need to lie at the very end of the play by telling her family that shes pregnant.
The homosexual value of the play is quite relevant as Brick finds refuge in his bedroom and by drinking large amounts of alcohol to escape his homosexual feelings. Both women being expected to have lots of children and Brick having to turn to drink in an attempt to block out unwanted feelings are due to the time that the play was set and what was expected in society. The religious values of the play are to reflect Williams own feelings on the matter, creating great dramatic impact at the same time. Reverent Tucher, the familys local reverent doesnt even take religion seriously.
He says Did you all know that Halsey Banks widow put air-conditioning in the church¦ The reverends main worries are of money and his personal comfort in the church which contradicts everything Christianity stands for. Williams illustrates the characters of Brick and Big Daddy as being intelligent men, with lots of general knowledge and common sense. Therefore when he makes it apparent that neither of them believes in religion, hes making a very controversial statement, especially among the outwardly religious society of 1950s Southern America.
To conclude, the overall setting of the play has proven to affect the plot of the play, hidden symbolism, qualities of the characters and the key themes behind the play. Without specific references to the setting, the amount of dramatic impact would be absolutely minimal, probably resulting in the audience not fully understanding the points that Williams most wanted to stress and losing interest in the play altogether. So yes, the setting of the play is imperative to the plays dramatic impact.