Kaitlin Gates

Date of Award

Spring 4-22-2016

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


English, Linguistics, and Communication

First Advisor

Richards, Gary

Major or Concentration



This paper explores how playwright Tennessee Williams depicts marriage within two of his most central plays, A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and examines the power dynamics between the married couples Stanley and Stella, Brick and Maggie, and Big Daddy and Big Mama. Through a discussion of how their respective husbands use age and sexuality to manipulate the younger wives, Stella and Maggie, I argue that it is only through the decline of the husband, in this case Big Daddy, that wives gain any marital power. These disproportionate power relationships ultimately reflect Williams' own experiences and beliefs that balanced relationships were not realistically possible.