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From being to nothingness: tennessee william’s”cat on a hot tin roof”

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    ‘from being to nothingness: tennessee william’s”cat on a hot tin roof”

    “There’s gotta be some purpose in life, some meaning.”

    —Brick Third Act, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

    Man has always searched for the meaning of life.  Philosophers, biologists, and even psychologists down the ages have always pondered the question of life’s meaning. Why are we here? What is our purpose? And since we’re asking, what is life?

    The Greek philosopher Aristotle[1] dissected the essence of man into components.  Matter, causality, movement and the end made up life’s meaning, he theorized.

    Simply put, an individual is living because there is matter. Actions done within a person’s existence are caused by events and circumstances that ask for it, while an end is the “goal” which keeps these actions in perspective.  Others have theorized that life is not life unless it has meaning. But then again, there are problem to this thinking as the meaning of life to each individual is subjective.

    The play “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” is a perfect example of the many definitions of life’s meaning from different perspectives.  This paper will go into the various aspects by which philosophers and existentialists have based their theories on what life is and its many levels, from biology to its more abstract meaning as applicable to people, issues and experiences portrayed in the play.

    The story is based on the crisis and issues brought up in one day in the lives of the Pollits, a family living in Mississippi.

     From the turbulent relationship between husband and wife Brick and Maggie, the expectations demanded of Maggie as wife to Brick and those demanded by the family, and the tepid relationship between Big Mama and Big Daddy.  These are just a few of the conflicts tackled in Tennessee William’s play “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

    Big Daddy has been diagnosed with cancer.  And while he himself and Big Mama are unaware of it, the rest of the family is, due to a conspiracy with the doctors and themselves to keep the news from Big Daddy and Big Mama.  They gather together for one evening ostensibly to celebrate Daddy’s birthday and the diagnosis that he is 100% cancer free as far as his and Big Mama’s knowledge.

    In this one evening, the issues behind the gap between the couple Brick and Maggie including Maggie’s frustration at Brick’s indifference to her as a woman and Brick’s alcoholism will be explained.

    The Play deals with how the family reacts and interacts on the issues of death, mendacity, prospects of wealth and inheritance and roles each character are expected to fulfill.

    Big Daddy, the patriarch of the family is described as a coarse redneck of a man who has achieved phenomenal success in his self-made rise from poverty to enormous wealth. The prospect of dying with cancer has forced him to face his own mortality and question the way he led his life.

    Big Mama is the faithful devoted wife of Big Daddy.  She is a woman who in her love for her husband, glosses over the lack of affection from Big Daddy as inconsequential, often explaining away snubs and put downs as  “Oh he’s just like that. He don’t mean it” throughout the play.

    Gooper is the first born of the Pollits.  He and his wife Mae are typified as grasping and conniving and who go all out in efforts to get close to Big Daddy with the objective of influencing his decision as to who gets his riches upon his death.

    Brick is a man who has sunk to the depths if apathy with the help of alcohol.  In the beginning he portrays the character of a calm, collected “strong” man who has come from a deep shock that desensitizes him from everything from the preference of his parents for him, to the allures and loving devotion of his beautiful wife.

    Maggie, the “cat” in the play, is the spirited wife of Brick.  Her character is a complex combination of desperate yearning for her husband’s love and affection, her hardness and practical mentality caused by experienced poverty, her “catty” attitude in her relationship with Mae, and her bouts of gentleness and tact that smooth over awkward situations.

    All these characters are alive in the biological sense but all so different in the definition of living.


    The ancient Greek philosopher Plato[2], once spoke of life in terms of a universal meaning.  To him, the concept of life does not differ in any way and should be looked at as a singular substance such as one would view an apple as an apple.

        “WE DISTINGUISH between what a thing is and that it is. What a thing is we call its essence,   that it is, its existence. The thing I hold in my hand is by essence a pencil. And this pencil, as I believe on the evidence of my senses, exists.”[3]

    Aristotle however argues that existing things cannot be treated universally. His says that unless life can be predicated on anything past, present or future, it is not universal.[4]

     He further states that within every being is an individual “universal” upon which individual lives are predicated. In his principle of the five elements of Aristotle’s Metaphysics[5], he proposed a parallelism between the facets of existence to the relationship among the classical elements of fire, earth, water, air and ether.

    The first four elements, he deemed as the “corruptible” while his concept of ether represented that which is indefinable yet unchangeable constant such as gravity and the substance that make up the stars in the sky.

    To him, certain factors in the environment will and can affect change to life but one thing will always remain constant.

    “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” showed just how much change one’s surroundings can affect a person’s treatment of life. Maggie, for instance, shows the differences in her gentleness with Big Daddy and respectful treatment of Big Mama as opposed to the catty malice she shows whenever it came to Mae and her children.

    What defines Maggie?  Is it her interaction with people? Or her reaction to life as influenced by events past, present, and in the future?  Who is Maggie?

    Biology defines people as human beings. It sets us apart from animals in terms of species.  But wouldn’t the word “human” be enough? What is the significance of the verb “be?” What is it to be “human” and what is it to “be?” Several theories have been advanced to define the tangible things one sees in life but as philosopher Martin Heidegger noticed, they have forgotten to ask what to “be” really is. [6]

    The concept of Existentialism centers on defining the essence of existence.[7]  Philosophers through the centuries have sought the answer to the question of what defines existence. Theories have gone beyond the basic qualification of life as the ability to move and breathe.

    Existentialism goes against the ideas presented by the classical philosophies of empirical and rational thinking. It put forward the concept of defining one’s being as influenced by boredom, freedom, commitment and alienation.  It separates the human existence into “being” and “nothing.” What makes a human a “being”?

    How a person is viewed differs from the perspective of the onlooker.  In this case, the definition of Big Daddy was culled from varying perspectives.  In family terms, “Big Daddy” was defined from the familial view of the family patriarch. He was a father and the provider.  In the birthday party scene in the Second Act, there is a mention of many telegrams from well wishers and business friends, along with the full presence of the members of his family who were gathered to ensure their inheritance.  In this view, “Daddy” was also a provider in the monetary sense, and such idea was implied in Maggie’s referral to their allowances and Big Daddy’s dole-outs to his spinster sister in Memphis.

    Big Daddy was a person with roles to fill.  These roles defined society’s and his environment’s definition of Big Daddy’s existence.

    Classical thought has always considered the “Being” as something so obvious and has thus left it unexplored according to Heidegger.[8] His de-constructional view on existence required that philosophers go back and reformulate theories on existence this time, taking the “being” into consideration. One’s existence should not be defined only in terms of the relationship between an individual and his environment.[9]

    One of Heidegger’s main influences, Edmund Huserll[10] said that philosophy should be described in the context of human experience and goals.  People do and live in accordance with one “plan” or goal.  Heidegger modified this with his theory of “care,[11]” which, simply stated means that a person’s priorities or what he or she considers important defines their existence.   For him, it is the motivation and the individual needs that define a person’s existence and thus shapes them into their what they are.

    In his work “Being and Time,”[12] Heidegger created the representation “Dasein” of the individual that seeks to answer the question as to why he exists.  He states the Dasein is “thrown” into a world of possibilities and responsibilities, and to account for his existence, the Dasein must take responsibility for all these possibilities.

            “MARGARET [out before she knows it]: I am not living with you. We occupy the same

        cage, that’s all.”[13]


    Rene Descartes in his “Meditations on First Philosophy” states that in human existence, the only thing that cannot be doubted is consciousness.  Reality can have many illusions, but a human being’s consciousness is constant which therefore makes it the only truth. [14] The famed German philosopher George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel[15] summed it up in the statement “the rational alone is real” which presented the idea that everything can and will only be expressed in rational categories.  His various works reflected methods predominantly rooted in logic.  He gives the example of liberty in terms of the understanding of a savage and a civilized person.

    The degree of comprehension of concepts is only limited or expanded by the standards of knowledge a person possesses and the level of society he belongs to.  The ideas of existentialism contradict this.  The definition of a person’s existence is not dependent on rational thinking but rather their individual “beings” in the world they were born in.  Reality in reference to one’s existence is subjective.

    French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre in his “Essays on Existentialism” states:

         “If man, as the existentialist conceives him, is indefinable, it is because at first he is nothing.

          Only afterward will he be something, and he himself will have made what he will be”.[16]

     In more contemporary terms, life is defined by what you make of it.  How can one tell however,

    if life has been for won’t?  There is a question of what qualifies an individual to feel alive and being as opposed to feeling nothing.  In Sartre’s “Being and Nothingness,” he defines the actuality of man’s ideal of completion as the fulfillment of state of “Being” while nothingness is the failure or lack of this actuality.[17] These two concepts are best explained by the feelings of being and nothingness experienced by the character of Maggie as a woman and wife. .  Her feeling of existence is divided into two views, the subjective and the objective. She is a very beautiful woman with a figure appreciated even by Big Daddy. She frequently reaffirms her beauty by frequently dressing and undressing in front of a mirror.  Yet whenever Brick rejects her, she descends into nothingness.  Here is a husband with a beautiful and sexually attractive wife who would undress in front of him and seduce him with her words hoping to elicit passion so when she is rejected, her “being” in terms of the actuality of acknowledgment and passion from her husband is negated. Like Hegel, Sartre also used the concepts of “Being” in terms of “ in itself”, “for others”, and “for and in itself.” Unlike Hegel however who defined these as organizational thought processes and logic in the individual, Sartre stated these terms with definitions done to identify and qualify the subjective and objective facets of human existence. Maggie’s comparison of the acknowledgment Big Daddy gives her in the superficial view of herself as a physically attractive woman and Brick’s indifference to her efforts and beauty is an example of “Being” turning into “Nothing.”  By Sartre’s definition, one can categorize the Being that Maggie existed in given in the physical and sensual context as the “Being for others” [18] where the opinion of other people outside the individual defines her existence.  To Big Daddy, Maggie exists as a young and beautiful woman.  She hopes that Brick will see the same attractions and respond to her sensuality. To her, acknowledgment is achievement of “being.’                BRICK: What makes you think that Big Daddy has a lech for you, Maggie?

          MARGARET: Way he always drops his eyes down my body when I’m talkin’ to him, drops

         his eyes to my boobs an’ licks his old chops! Ha Ha!

          BRICK: That type of talk is disgusting.

         MARGARET: Did anyone ever tell you that you’re an ass-aching Puritan, Brick?

         I think it’s mighty fine that that ole fellow, on the doorstep of death, still takes in my shape

         with what I think is deserved appreciation!” [19]

    Sartre’s concept of  “Being for itself”[20] is reflected in Maggie. She is in essence a passionate and sensual woman who only wants her to attract her husband.   These are her ideals. Her efforts to attract Brick is explained by the “Being for others” where she sought to gain her individual “being” by gaining Brick’s acknowledgment of her.

    However, her failure to overturn Brick’s indifference and refusal to acknowledge this makes her feel worthless and a non-entity.  There is a “failed dream of completion” to gain being in her continually rebuffed efforts. Her needs and ideal of a relationship between a man and a woman are not met, thus making her daily existence seem empty thus making it “Nothing.”

    Existence in itself takes on new meaning.  Whereas for Aristotle “existence” is just the concreteness of a physically alive individual and his environment, and Hegel credit rationalism as Sartre incorporates reaction, some quarters refer to existence as the actuality of a life. Regarded as the “Father of existentialism,” and one of Hegelianism’s greatest critics, Soren Kierkegaard[21] was a Danish philosopher who advanced the concept that it is an individual’s feelings such as dread and anxiety that lead to making choices that define a person’s life.

    In his work “The Two ages: A Literary Review,” which he wrote in criticism of Thomasine Christine Gyllembourg-Ehrensvärd’s.novel “Two Ages,”  Kierkegaard observed:

         “the present age is essentially a sensible age, devoid of passion … The trend today is in the

          direction of mathematical equality, so that in all classes about so and so many uniformly

          make one individual.”[22]

    Kierkegaard’s views stated that the difference between an individual’s self-perception of being and nothingness stems from the “individuality” of a person and that includes emotions and passions.

    He cites a parallel of faith and atheism.  In his theories that were viewed as anti-organized religion, Kierkegaard states that for a person to be able to “make a leap of faith,” one must first have doubt.[23]  In the same way, Being cannot exist without “Nothing” and vice-versa. Kierkegaard has been considered a “theist”[24] philosopher.  Most of his philosophical thoughts were influenced and paralleled by his views for Christianity but against organized Church.  He believed that the Church imposed standards on people that limited them from achieving individuality and passion by classifying them as “sin.” What does “sin” have to do with a person’s existence? Theologically speaking, sin is defined as a moral evil or transgression as regarded by religion. For the ethical consciousness, sin is what an error is in relation to knowledge, it is the particular exception which proves nothing. (Kierkegaard) However, the concept has taken on many forms in terms of society, moral, and legal. Still, the general premise of Sin is anything that is unacceptable and goes against a prescribed set of standards. How does sin figure in human existence? Taking both Sartre’s and Kierkegaard’s views on human existence and meaning defined by personal and environmental forces, we look at Maggie’s dilemma with her mother in law, Big Mama and Mae.

            “BIG MAMA: Don’t laugh about it!- Some single men stop drinkin’ when they git married      and  others start! Brick never touched liquor before he -!

        MARGARET [crying out]: THAT’S NOT FAIR!

        BIG MAMA: Fair or not fair I want to ask you a question, one question: D’you make Brick

        happy in bed? MARGARET: Why don’t you ask if he makes me happy in bed?[25]

    The play “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” was set in the time when women were expected to marry and have children. Expectations were brought by the roles assigned to women and not based on a woman’s individuality and needs. Maggie’s problems with Brick’s abhorrence and rejection of her make it impossible for her to have children.

            “MARGARET:  It goes on all the time, along with constant little remarks and innuendoes

          about the fact that you and I have not produced any children , are therefore totally childless,

          and  therefore totally useless!…”[26]

    This is a private point which, though of common knowledge to Gooper and Mae who have been listening in on Brick’s and Maggie’s activities, cannot be voiced out loud by Maggie as her defense. Her frustrated utterance of “It’s not fair!” reflects her descent to “nothingness” once more at her two-fold failure to be a woman in her personal and society’s ideal.

         “But the abiding state, that out of which sin constantly becomes (comes into being), not by      necessity, for a becoming by necessity is simply a state of being (as is for example the entire     history of the plant), but by freedom — in this abiding state, I say, which is the predisposing assumption, the real possibility of sin, we have a subject for the interest of psychology.”        (Kierkegaard’s Concept of Dread) [27]

    Now then, what about Mae?  She has delivered five children and had another one on the way, was the “Cotton Carnival Queen”[28] that gives her the credentials to claim “beauty,” and married a stable guy with a career and wealthy family.  Does that make her the perfect example of a woman who has reached her “ideal?” One would think that Mae had everything that Maggie wished for to make her life complete.  Yet in the story the character “Mae” is depicted as scheming, greedy and manipulative, forever shoving her children up Big Daddy’s face and emphasizing how she and Gooper have provided a dynasty of Pollits to continue Big Daddy’s name. At the same time she impresses on him and Big Mama the fact of Brick’s alcoholism and Maggie’s childlessness. Mae, having adhered to the standard that the society by which the play was based, then has feelings of righteousness.

    Towards the end of Act I, there is a scene where one of the Gooper and Mae’s children fires a cap pistol at Margaret:

         “ MARGARET:  Stop that you little no-neck monster! [She seizes the cap pistol and hurls it

           through the gallery doors.]

         DIXIE:[with a precocious instinct for the cruelest things] You’re just jealous because you

         can’t have babies! [She sticks out her tongue as she sashays past her with stomach stuck out,

         to the gallery…] MARGARET: You see? –they gloat over us being childless, even in front of

         their five  little no-neck monsters!”[29]

    She carries this on further by answering Maggie’s criticisms of her parenting with

    “MAE: Maggie, honey, if you had children of your own, you’d know how funny that is.” [30]              If one would ask more particularly in what sense and to what extent psychology pursues the     object of its investigation, it is clear from the foregoing and in itself that every observation of     the reality of sin as an object of thought is irrelevant to it, nor as the object of observation does     it belong to ethics either, for ethics never acts as observer, but accuses, condemns, acts.”  —    Kierkegaard Concept of Dread[31]

    Every individual has his own motivations and perception of what makes life worthwhile.  Even sociology that an individual’s needs and wants are grouped in an order of ranking according to the importance attached to them.

    Sociologist Abraham Maslow designed his “Hierarchy of Needs”[32] where things like the necessities of food and shelter may remain constant while other ‘wants” like money, achievement, social status, acceptance and the like are organized into priorities by which an individual acts in order to obtain. If we would go by Aristotle’s theories[33], it is possible to say that Mae made her choices on how to conduct her and her children’s relationship with Big Daddy and Big Mama in order to promote her and Gooper’s objective of inheriting Big Daddy’s wealth. Seeing as most of the conflict surrounding the characters of the play surrounds Big Daddy, let us take a look at the character that is “Big Daddy.” He perhaps may best be described as the free man by the definition of Kierkegaard.  He does not take the time to acknowledge what he doesn’t like as when he ignores Mae’s efforts to get her children close to him.  He says what is on his mind. For most of the play, the other characters around him focus on Big Daddy as the benefactor of wealth if they play their cards right. To his wife, Big Daddy was indifferent in a way similar yet not as extreme as how Brick treated Maggie. In the beginning, he was like a man reborn after untruthfully being told that his health was good.  He became a man ready to dispense with conventions and have fun:

            “BIG DADDY: They say you just got so many and each one is numbered. Well, I got a few

          left in me, a few, and I’m gonna pick a good one to spend ‘em on! I’m going to pick me a

         choice one, I don’t care how much she costs, I’ll smother her in –minks! Ha ha! I’ll strip her

         naked and smother her in minks and choke her in diamonds! Ha ha! I’ll strip her naked and

         choke her in diamonds and     smother her in minks and hump her from hell to breakfast. Ha

         aha ha ha ha!.”[34]

    He tells Brick of the many things Big Mama was able to buy with the use of his money. He is the epitome of materialism.  Materialism is existence that is defined by physical matter. His perception of fulfillment, and expression of love and happiness are rooted in his ability to buy and pay for what he wants and what is asked from him.  According to the book “Contemporary Materialism: A Reader,” the concept of materialism is defined by Pre-Socratic philosophers in Ancient Greece as  “Everything that actually exists is material, or physical” [35] In the first part of the play, Big Daddy defined his existence with his accumulation of wealth.   In a dialogue between Big Daddy and Brick,  Big Daddy  describes himself in the economic  perspective of wealth:

         “BIG DADDY: Y’know how much I’m worth? Guess, Brick! Guess how much I’m worth!

         Close on ten million in cash an’ blue chip stocks, outside, mind you, of twenty-eight thousand

         acres of the richest land this side of the valley Nile!”[36]

    The recognition of this facet of  “existence” of Big Daddy is echoed throughout the play by Maggie who refers to him as “the biggest cotton planter”[37]  and by Mae[38] in her reference to the plan Gooper drew up as a plan “to protect the estate in Delta from irresponsibility,” and again by Big Daddy himself when he refers to his “twenty-eight thousand acres of the richest land this side of the valley Nile,”[39] and in his statement “ it’s lucky I’m a rich man, it sure is lucky, well, I’m a rich man, Brick, yep, I’m a mighty rich man.”[40]

    The reason for Big Daddy’s materialistic actions are explained by his narrative of how he started out with nothing, quitting school at age 10 began working in cotton fields.  He details his efforts as a “self made” man without any help from any body worked hard on making his land the way it was [41] Existential theories explain Big Daddy’s existence in the economic material sense as brought about by first, his desire to rise from poverty, second, the actuality of fruits from his hard labor, and third, the continual collection of material possessions and acknowledgment that defines “Big Daddy” as a wealthy man.
    His “Being” is given substance in his capacity to pay for everything has family needs, the presence of his slaves, the best medical clinics and the foreign travels made by him and his wife. Another character who pursues the ideal of wealth as necessary to “being” is Maggie.

            “MARGARET: …Brick, y’know, I’ve been so God damn disgustingly poor all my life! –

             That’s the truth, Brick!”[42]

             “MARGARET: Always had to suck up to people I couldn’t stand because they had money

             and I was poor as Job’s turkey. You don’t know what that’s like….”  “…That’s how it feels

            like to be as poor as Job’s turkey and had have to suck up to relatives that you hated

            because they had money and all you had was a bunch of hand-me-down clothes and a few

           old moldy three-per-cent government bonds.”

           “…When I came out, the year I made my debut, I had just two evening dresses! One mother

             made me from a pattern in Vogue, the other a hand-me-down from a snotty rich cousin I

           hated!     – The dress I married you in was my grandmother’s weddin’ gown… So that’s why

          I’m like a cat on a hot tin roof!”[43]

          ”MARGARET: I know! WHY!–Am I so catty?—Cause I’m consumed with envy an’ eaten

            up with longing?…”

           “MARGARET: “…The rich or the well to do can afford to respect moral patterns,

          conventional moral patterns, but I could never afford to, yeah, but –I’m honest! Give me

          credit for just that, will you please? –Born poor, raised poor, expect to die poor unless

          manage to get us something out of what Big Daddy leaves when he dies of cancer!…”[44]

    The experience of poverty from both Big Daddy’s and Maggie’s background is similar in the sense of lacking in material things, and dissimilar in they way it has influenced their lives in the following years.

    In Big Daddy’s case, his “being” became “nothing” with the forced acknowledgment of his own mortality brought about by his cancer.  In the second act of the play, Big Daddy ponders his existence and the aspect of his monetary wealth in relation to the life he has led.

        BIG DADDY: But a man can’t buy his life with it, he can’t buy back his life with it when his

        life has been spent, that’s one thing not offered in Europe fire-sale or in the American markets

       or any markets on earth, a man can’t buy his life with it, he can’t buy back his life when his life

        is finished…”[45]

    His view of the life he led as a wealthy human being went from the basic fulfillment brought

    about by the power of material purchase, to a more philosophical view of the action and hidden meanings in the action itself.

     Material wealth and human actuality from the ownership and spending of  money is viewed in a baser sense in his statement:

            “BIG DADDY: The human animal is a beast that dies and if he’s got money he buys and

        buys and buys and I think the reason he buys everything he can buy is that in the back of his

        mind he has the crazy hope that one of his purchases will be life everlasting!—Which it never

        can be…”  –Big Daddy [46]

    Maggie, on the other hand, loathes the transformation she has undergone with her desperation and struggle to ensure the sustenance of her and Brick’s lives at least monetarily.

            “MARGARET [struggling for expression]: That I’ve gone through this –hideous! –

        transformation, become –hard!  Frantic!  –cruel!!

    That’s what you’ve been observing in me lately.  How could y’ help but observe it?  That’s all right. I’m not –thin-skinned any more, can’t afford t’ be thin-skinned any more.[47]  If one looks at the above stated cases with the perspective of the Determinism[48], the actions taken by Maggie and Big Daddy with regard to their view of material wealth would be mathematical in nature: Poverty + Shame = the desire for financial gain and stability.  As in Isaac Newton’s Laws of Motion, the law of reciprocal actions dictate that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction[49]. Newton’s Law of Acceleration also explains the difference of the degree of reaction shown by Big Daddy and Maggie. Big Daddy experienced extreme poverty thus, it influenced and strengthened his will enough to be a “self made” man, and multiply his wealth continually.

    Maggie on the other hand, experienced poverty with her family.

            “MARGARET: [turning on her fiercely, with a brilliant smile]: Why is it funny? All my

        family ever had was family –and luxuries such as cashmere robes still surprise me![50]

    Newton’s Law of Acceleration states that the force exerted on an object dictates the momentum an object’s movement makes. Therefore, the experience of poverty in Maggie’s case is diminished by the presence of her family who shared her experience as opposed to Big Daddy who went through poverty alone. But people do not react to situations in the same way.  If Determinism and mathematical logic were sufficient in determining a person’s existence, why then were the more sneaky and manipulative methods employed by Maggie different from the toil and labor dine by Big Daddy?  In Existentialist thought however, motivation brought about by the experience will be the driving force of one’s living.  Sartre would look at this as human defining their lives by the choices they make.  It is no longer a simple action of getting away from something but more of going towards a point of “being” when financial wealth is reached.

    Explained in Aristotle’s metaphysics, the shame and hardship experienced by both characters would make up their desire for change or “potentiality.” [51]

    Material wealth, then becomes the “end” of potentiality.  The actuality of the change they desired brings forth an individual’s state of being.

    Sartre’s philosophy pushes forward the idea that the actions taken by Big Daddy and Maggie is representative of their taking responsibility for their future.  In essence, Big Daddy and Maggie are in a state of poverty.   Their existence came when they undertook steps and attitudes to change their essential economic state with the view of “fulfillment” at monetary gain. Hence, “Existence precedes Essence.”

            “Atheistic existentialism, which I represent, is more coherent. It states that if God does not

        exist, there is at least one being in whom existence precedes essence, a being who exists

        before he can be defined by any concept, and that being is man or, as Heidegger says, human

        reality. What is meant here by saying that existence precedes essence? It means first of all,

        man exists, turns up, appears on the scene, and, only afterwards, defines himself. If man, as

        the existentialist conceives him, is indefinable, it is because at first he is nothing. Only

        afterward will he be something, and he himself will have made what he will be. [52]

    Using Kierkegaard’s[53] leaning towards existence defined by paradox, applied to the issue of poverty and wealth, Maggie and Big Daddy recognized wealth because there was poverty. Without poverty, they would not have desired attainment of monetary wealth, as they wouldn’t

    have known the difference between being rich and being poor. It’s the same as his “leap of

    faith”[54] as previously mentioned.  Without doubt, how could one call faith, “faith?” Ergo, there is no wealth without poverty.


          “BIG DADDY: Have you ever been scared? I mean have you ever felt downright terror of


    How does fear factor in to a person’s life? How is a person’s existence which is altogether a positive idea, be related to something so negative as fear, or in the case of the play ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” death?

    One of Kierkegaard’s paradoxical theories is that of the concept of Dread. According to Kierkegaard’s concept of Dread, it is only when one has experienced total misery that one can recognize and experience life and living.[56]

    “Only by being a sacrificial Isaac would he recognise himself for the beloved of Abraham: and no miracle (he knew in the end) would intervene.”

    Because of the conspiracy to hide the true nature of the medical results, Big Daddy though t he was going to live.  He felt like man resurrected from the brink of death…given a new lease on life.

            “BIG DADDY [grins suddenly, wolfishly]: Jesus, I can’t tell you! The sky is open! Christ,

        it’s open again! It’s open, boy, it’s open! [57]

    Most people think they’re alive when they wake up and open their eyes everyday. Each new day is looked upon with a promise of things to come, things to do and lives to lead.  But what really is life?  Dispensing with biology, can life be defined by the roles that person takes on? Is being a law-abiding and conscientious citizen what defines a life?

            BIG DADDY: …I realize now I never had me enough.  I let many chances slip by because

        of scruples about it, scruples, convention –crap…All that stuff is bull, bull, bull!  It took the

        shadow of death to make me see it.  Now that shadow’s lifted, I’m going to cut loose and

        have, what is it they call it, have me –a ball![58]”

    Despite operating under false knowledge, Big Daddy exemplifies how “life” is given by “death.”

    If an actuality or fulfillment of a vision defines an individual’s state of “Being”, then human mortality is its biggest challenge. All the potentials, all the plans are put to naught when one physically dies. It is not unusual in today’s times to hear the maxim “You never know what you have unless you’ve lost it.”  The misery or anxiety at the thought of losing something makes one will realize how much value they have truly assigned to something. The thought of this is echoed in German journalist Helmut Kuhn’s “Encounter with Nothingness: An Essay on Existentialism”:

            “The question of existence is urged upon us chiefly by our interest. We raise it when we

        care for the existence or the nonexistence of something. When darkness closes down, we do

        get excited about the existence of light” [59]

    Indeed, even in modern times, people who have undergone life threatening or “near death” situations emerge philosophically in their view of life. Life becomes more precious.

    Big Daddy’s perceived “new lease on life” gave him a feeling of freedom.  Life now is not just day to day existence but more of what he makes of each day.  From his view, his existence before being faced with Death was nothing but a lie.

          “BIG DADDY: …Think of all the lies I had to put up with! –Pretenses! Ain’t that

          mendacity?  Having to pretend stuff you don’t think or feel or have any idea of?…

         BIG DADDY: Church! –it bores the bejesus out of me but I go! –I go an’ sit there and listen

         to the fool preacher!  Clubs! –Elks! Masons! Rotary! –crap!” [60]

    His brush with death liberates him from having to follow convention in order to justify his existence in the eyes of other people. Hence, his false knowledge of being cured of sickness, to him meant living life the way he wanted to.  Only “Life” is important. Everything else is just crap.

            “BIG DADDY: Life is important.  There’s nothing else to hold onto.  A man that drinks is

        throwing his life away. Don’t do it, hold onto your life.  There’s nothing else to hold onto…”[61]

    Suddenly, all the material wealth he has accumulated was demoted in significance compared to his living and breathing existence.  Death, has opened given him a new perspective on life from a day to day existence and “Life” in the context of his experience with death.

            “BIG DADDY:  Ignorance –of mortality –is a comfort.  A man don’t have that comfort,

        he’s the only thing that conceives of death, that knows what it is.  The others go without

        knowing which is the way that anything living should go, go without knowing, without any

        knowledge of it, and yet a pig squeals, but a man sometimes, he can keep a tight mouth about

        it. [62]


    It is not unusual for lovers to say ‘I love you, I cannot live without you.”

    Some may view this as over-dramatic and hysterical.  But in fact there are some people where in their lives, passion in the romantic sense and other wise is essential to their existence.

    “Absurdity” in the layman’s term refers to anything that is considered ridiculous, irrational and beyond understanding.  There is no logic to it. It is complete nonsense.

    With reference to life, the “absurd” becomes deeper wherein it is used to denote a state where existence has no meaning.

    In his novel “The Stranger and the Myth of Sisyphus,” French writer and awardee for the 1957 Nobel Prize in Literature Albert Camus looks into the concept of the absurd which he defines as the feeling of  hopelessness and defeat without accepting them as a matter of fact. [63]

    What, then, is that incalculable feeling that deprives the mind of sleep necessary to life? A world that can be explained even with bad reasons is a familiar world. But, on the other hand, in a universe suddenly divested of illusions and lights, man feels an alien, a stranger.

    People who persist in sticking to unhappy and unfulfilling relationships defy logic and rational thinking.  Soma may even call it “absurd” or even “masochistic.”

    Yet Sartre looks at this persistence of irrational action as a contributor and possibly, an essential element in an individual’s search for Being.

    “BIG MAMA:  Big Daddy? Big Daddy? Oh, Big Daddy! –You didn’t mean those things

        you said to me, did you? [He shuts the door against her but still she calls.] Sweetheart?

        Sweetheart? Big Daddy? You didn’t mean those awful things you said to me? –I know you

        didn’t.  I know you didn’t mean those things in your heart…”[64]

                Big Mama loved Big Daddy with complete faith and devotion.  Despite Big Daddy’s often insulting jibes and irritated indifference to her, she persists in justifying it by attributing it to just rough personality.

    She has to believe that Big Daddy doesn’t mean the hurt he causes her. It is an “absurdity,” in the sense that Big Mama deludes herself into thinking that in his heart, Big Daddy loves her and doesn’t mean to hurt her. Therefore, that becomes her reality.

    There are a few moments though, that the reality of the situation escapes and forces her to admit out loud that things aren’t what she would like to believe.

            “BIG MAMA: In all these years, you never believed that I loved you?

        BIG DADDY: Huh?

        BIG MAMA: And I did, I did so much, I did love you! –I even loved your hate and your

        hardness, Big Daddy!”[65]

    There are people to whom their roles in life become their reality.  Big Mama may be unhappy but she is Big Daddy’s wife.  She may need to delude herself and rationalize in order to be able to accept nasty things.

    Sartre’s theory states that the existence of an individual comes from an individual’s taking on responsibility for direction and purpose of one’s life.

    Another example of this would be Maggie in her relationship with Brick.  Brick is indifferent to her and even encourages her to take a lover so she would leave him alone.  Any reaction at all that she may get from Brick, she considers a victory albeit small.

       “MARGARET: We mustn’t scream at each other, the walls in this house have ears… [He

        hobbles to the liquor cabinet to get a new drink.] –but that’s the first time I’ve heard you raise

         your voice in a long time, Brick. A crack in the wall? –Of composure?

         –I think that’s a good sign… A sign of nerves in a player on the defensive!” [66]

    Maggie’s existence depends on her resilience.  While throughout the film she wavers every now and accept the ugly truth of Brick’s snubs, she grasps at every little indication that she has gotten to Brick. For her, they may fight, and things may get hurtful but at least, he acknowledged her.  She also holds on to her “usefulness” in terms of taking care of the Brick’s more obvious need for alcohol.  In simpler terms, she may not like it, but she does it for him nevertheless.   In this case, the classical dogmas of philosophy such as those taught by Plato, are in practice. In a form of existence, logic and reason takes over and makes sense of things good or bad.

         MARGARET:  Brick, I tell you, you got to believe me, Brick, I do understand all about it! I –

         I think it was –noble! Can’t you tell I’m sincere when I say I respect it? My only point, the

        only point that Im making, is life has got to be allowed to continue even after the dream of life

         is –all –over…” [67]

    Masochists who rationalize in order to exist in the absurd are best summed up in her statement:

    “MARGARET: Hell, do they ever know it? Nobody says, “You’re dying.” You have to fool them.  They have to fool themselves.”[68]

    Immanuel Kant[69] presented a style of inquiry that takes to consideration the physiological and  empirical facets of a person’s state of Being. More of a psychological approach, Kant says that for a person to make sense of one’s being, introspection is essential.

    His views on endless capability of  “Pure Reason” is that of one should not be able to answer a question to a principle with the use of reason, one should just drop the principle altogether. As it would be impossible to answer any succeeding question that principle may encounter.[70]

    Going by this therefore, Big Mama’s and Maggie’s rationalization of the conflicts and desires of  their “existence”  should be enough to resolve any disruptions such their “emotions.”

    Critics of Kant however, points out that emotions are not the sporadic situations or disruptions in the logic process of existence.

    Sartre was one of the strongest critics of Kantian theory. He refused to accept the proposal that human emotions are insignificant and occasional “situations” that occur of an individual’s behavior.

         “Moreover, emotion must not be considered as a set of empirical facts gained

         through introspection or as a “corporeal phenomenon” , but rather as “an organized form of

         human existence”

    As Big Mama rationalizes her grief, so does Maggie.  She holds on to the thinking that Brick’s alcoholism and indifference stems from the rift she caused between him and Skipper.

    Applying Sartre’s theory of emotions and responsibility, emotions are an integral part of the human make-up. The static (Being in itself) of the two characters are the roles as women and wives.  The Potentiality (Being for itself) of their situation is their choice of action in relation to the ideal which they hope to achieve.  In both cases, actuality of the “End” comes in the hope of breaking through their husbands’ indifferences and winning love and affection and acknowledgment of their existence… Big Mama to be acknowledged in terms of her love and devotion, Maggie in her love, sexuality and attraction.

    The rationalization done by Maggie and Big Mama are acts of taking responsibility for their situation and reactions in order to attain their goal of being with husbands they love.

    In an interview done by Dr. Oreste F. Pucciani, Professor of French at the University of California at Los Angeles Sartre explains the concept of sadism and masochism in relation to the emotion “love.”

    P. Sadism and masochism are quite normal aspects of human love.

    Sartre Yes, that was what I wanted to say. I would still maintain the idea that many acts of human love are tainted with sadism and masochism, and what must be shown is what transcends them. I wrote Saint Genet to try to present a love that goes beyond the sadism in which Genet is steeped and the masochism that he suffered, as it were, in spite of himself. [71]

    Sartre refers to a concept called “The Look” wherein outsider perception is the basis for an individual’s existential “Being for itself.”  Because this particular state of Being is reliant on how outsiders view the individual “in itself” a person is feelings of “existence” become vulnerable.

    Enough mention has been made of masochism be it in the philosophical sense and otherwise.  What is Masochism anyway?

    While ordinarily used in the sexual context, sadism and masochism are actually words that describe behaviors that deal with the concept of “rejection” whereas the sadist is the one rejecting, the masochist is the one that receives the rejection.

            Sacher-Masoch saw reason as just another beastly attribute. In his mission statement on love

         and life, “The Wanderer” ( 1873), Sacher-Masoch has one of his figures describe human

         beings as “nothing but beasts . . . the most reasonable, bloodthirsty and cruel of beasts. No

        other is as inventive in stealing from and enslaving its brother. And so wherever you look, in

         human life as well as in nature, the struggle for existence, for life, is at the cost of others,

         murder, thievery, deceit, slavery.” 15 The problem with reason is that it works in the service

         of passion. [72]

    Maggie becomes the masochist when she purposefully bring up the subject of Skipper, and refuses to stop talking “truths” which Brick doesn’t want to hear.  Her statements anger Brick but, as evidenced by the previously quoted passage where she rejoices in making a dent in Brick’s “armor,” anger and insults from Brick almost delight her and make her in a sense “fulfilled.”


    “There he stands, the ambassador from the kingdom of sighs, the chosen favorite of the realm of suffering, the apostle of grief, the silent friend of pain, the unhappy lover of memory, in his memories confounded by the light of hope, in his hope deceived by the shadows of memory…. I hail thee with thy title of honour, the Unhappiest Man!…Accept then our wish, a good wish: May no one understand you, may all men envy you; may no friend bind himself to you, may no woman love you; may no secret sympathy suspect your lonely pain, may no eye pierce your distant grief; may no ear trace your secret sigh! [73]

    As a person’s existence and state of “Being” are subjective, so is the definition of “nothingness.”

    The lexicon meaning of the word “nothing” is given as “1 : not any thing : no thing; 2 : no part;  3 : one of no interest, value, or consequence”

    In philosophy however, despite the many theories that sought to define existence, the definition of the word nothing seems to universal.  It simply means failure to attain a state of Being.

    In the play “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” most of the characters undergo a transition every now and then between states of “Being” and “nothing.”[74]

    Yet of all the characters, one stands out as almost “nothingness” in person.

    On the periphery of the dynamic interaction among the family members is Brick. For most of the play, Brick exhibits a distance from the issues that are raised in the play’s plot, only showing an involvement of emotion whenever the subject of Skipper and his death is raised.

    Karl Jaspers, one of Germany’s most important existentialists, took the perspective of man’s direct concern with his personal existence.

    One encounters the Self at the “boundary situations” of existence, at the limits of knowledge and action, at those points where all knowledge and action fails, or founders–in the presence of absolute chance, conflict, suffering, guilt, death. At these boundary situations of finite existence one is driven either to despair or to a discovery of authentic Selfhood in freedom. [75]

    In Jasper’s “Psychology of World Views,” he recognized instances when the existential Being withdraws inward to protect itself from experiences or truths that threaten its defenses and thus disrupt its operations.

    Whereas the other theories on existence set basis on positive actions towards personal “truths,” Jasper considered the formation or sanctity of the state of “Being” through withdrawal and evasion.  He statements on worldviews otherwise known as the “human psychology,” are limitations on an individual’s mental processes. They define the relationship between an individual’s reaction and the surrounding his environment. Brick was an alcoholic.   He lived day by day in search of the “click” that makes things peaceful. Following Jasper’s reasoning, Brick was rooted in a pseudo-reality where he existed physically, but mentally has withdrawn from unpleasant facts.

    Act One reveals the presence of “conditions” Brick has imposed on his relationship with Maggie.

    While these conditions remained hidden throughout the story, the mere fact that they were there proves the limitations to the life experience that Brick has set.

         “BRICK: I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do.  You keep forgetting the conditions

         on which I agreed to stay on living with you.”[76]

    Anything that threatens to cross that boundary, such as Maggie’s pleas for him to touch her, makes him draw away in avoidance and silence. This silence and refusal to talk makes Maggie  be even more bent on getting him to open up with her dialogue regarding the need for life to continue after death and how avoiding talking about what happened between her and Skipper will just make things worse.

         “MARGARET”….laws of silence don’t work…When something is festering in your memory

         or your imagination, the laws of silence don’t work, it’s just like shutting a door and locking it

         on a house on fire in hope of forgetting that the house is burning.  But not facing a fire doesn’t

         put it out. Silence about a thing just magnifies it.  It grows and festers in silence…becomes


    There are three subjects that cause immediate reaction from Brick. The first was the sexual relationship between Skipper and Maggie which nature and reality remained blurred; the perception of his friendship with Skipper and the innuendoes of homosexuality, and last, the

    death of Skipper.  Because of his silence, the real reason for his withdrawal and deepening apathy remains hidden until the second act where Big Daddy forces the truth out of him.

    Truth seems to be a major contributor to nothingness.  In Brick’s case, the truth of his guilt regarding Skipper’s death broke down his reserve and roused the bottled up anger that he unwittingly struck Big Daddy with the pronouncement of the truth regarding Big Daddy’s condition. Big Daddy on the other hand, went from his exultant state of being “alive” into anger at the lies he was told.  Again, there is nothingness.

    Mortality once escaped has come again, but this time with all certainty… and all the joy Big Daddy felt transformed into angry sorrow. Truths also made Maggie continually swerve from Being to nothing. Her beauty that is acknowledged by Big Daddy and the mirror affirms is nothing without Brick’s admiration.

    She, by herself can be sweet and gentle as evidenced by her kindness and respect towards Big Mama, but can be extremely catty and malicious when confronted with undesirable things such as poverty and the criticisms of Mae and her children.

    It is interesting though how her character, while affected by the truth of the indifference of Brick and goes into a state of nothingness, she also shows the transcendence of another kind of Being.

    “MARGARET: Announcement of life beginning! A child is coming, sired by Brick and out of Maggie the Cat! I have Brick’s child in my body an’ that’s my birthday present to Big Daddy on this birthday![78]

    BIG DADDY:…. Uh-huh. This girl has life in her body, that’s no lie! [79]

    What is “life in her body?” Big Daddy was no fool.  He showed his knowledge of the couple’s carnal activity or rather, lack of as spied on by Mae and Gooper and reported to Big Mama.  Yet he agrees that there is life in Maggie.

    Brick and Big Daddy both utter the statement “Wouldn’t it be funny if that were true?” in situations where their women were most open and accepting of reality without trying to rationalize it.

    The transcendence of Maggie into an individual who didn’t break with her full acceptance of the truth and nevertheless took responsibility for her succeeding actions made her “stronger.”  Therefore, she achieved Being beyond the nothingness shallow hurts caused.  As per Kierkegaard’s paradox, she recognized being in her nothingness.


    The human being and existence is a complex and paradoxical concept.  All the concepts are true in a sense, but were never really complete in describing or pinpointing the meaning of life.

    Different schools of thought range from describing human existence in a mathematical sense then evolving into the more abstract consideration of complex human emotions.

    In a sense, it was a maturity of the mathematical view wherein simple addition and subtraction graduated to algebra where the “X” or the unknown is recognized and defined yet remains variable. These have all come together and can be summed up in simple life maxims we here in everyday life. Classical philosophy in its rational and logical basis, says it is “Mind over matter.”

    Sartre, Hegel and Heidegger’s philosophies are summed up in “the End justifies the Means.”

    Kierkegaard’s neurotic view of the existence as a result of anxiety and dread is summed up

     in “You don’t know what you have until you’ve lost it.”

    Given the many points of view advanced, there remains a constant, and that is recognition of the human free will. It is the will that makes a choice that rational, experiential or pessimistic, influences the “End” that defines and justifies a person’s existence.

    The Play “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” just shows the complexity of how it is to exist and define existence given the many variables that contributes to the human experience.  A person’s experience of past and present in addition to his perception of what the future could be are subjective.  The significance people place on certain things is also subjective.  Reactions are subjective.  Life is subjective.  One can choose to define existence in the manner of different philosophies. However, it is important to note that these schools of thought are not rules that encompass every person’s experience of life. Reason and irrationality, though much identified with logic and science are also subjective when it comes to application with humans.  People each have different views of what is “reasonable” and “unreasonable” action.  Some may defer to the conventions set by society or even expectations, but that does not mean that personally, they agree with all the boundaries set by their environment. An unreasonable act may be justified by different human experiences. Masochism though in concept is unreasonable, becomes reasonable when the pain suffered is produced within the context of fulfilling one’s need.

    Existence defined as life may also be existence through survival as typified by Brick’s withdrawal from painful truths.

    Lies and mendacity such as those in the play are “sins” yet they can be beliefs that an individual can hold or live thus making it their existence.

    It is not unusual how people can define their existence with their experience of suffering.  In the modern world, a mother defines mother hood by the joy and pain of rearing kids.

    Wives who are normally viewed as “martyrs” do not often consider themselves as such and find meaning in their existence with their continued hope and efforts to better their relationship with their husbands.

    Some find meaning in their efforts in improving the living standards of the destitute, while some are more focused on their own economics doing their best to add to their portfolios and bank accounts.  The devout lover finds existence in his devotion and love for his heart’s dearest and become fulfilled with just a glance or a smile. On a more sadistic perspective, there are some people who only exist to inflict pain and suffering on others.

    Big Daddy refers to Bricks ability to feel pain as a definition of life still in him despite the stupor of liquor.  In the same way it is impossible to deny that sometimes in a person’s life, something just happens that desensitizes them to the world and make them lead a sort of “half-life” where they are alive in the physical sense yet dead and unfeeling within.

    Some desensitize themselves but rationalizing everything such as Big Mama’s denial of Big Daddy’s unfeeling attitude towards her.  Her laugh that more often is louder than the others’ just show how much cover up she needs to do in order to get by.

    The scholarly and clinical views of modern philosophers and existentialists criticize the scant attention Classical philosophers gave to the abstract facet of human nature.

    Perhaps it was brought by the times when civilization was defined by knowledge.  Perhaps it was just ego. Perhaps it was a refusal to admit that some things on this Earth just aren’t tangible, physical or can even be quantified.

    Day after day we see people working, doing overtime and hurrying to achieve things for the day.  Perhaps they are trying to justify the act of even waking up that morning.  One might say that a life where nothing is done is empty.  Sartre’s principle states just that.  A life where no change or progress is affected is a life without existence.

    Why are we born? Why are we here? The Church teaches that all living creatures are created by God for a purpose.  Most people grow up in search of that purpose, yet not fully know what it really is.  Society imposes certain rules on how an individual must lead his life. If the Church has the commandments, society has its conventions.

    Is obedience to these rules and expectations the definition of our existence?  Are we truly born to be good model citizens who follow the rules and contribute to society?

    Aristotle was right in pointing out that the human emotion is not a “disruption” or a weakness in humans.  Newton’s theories of physics do not and cannot describe I a wholly general way the force that drives an individual to do certain things. One must remember that while a certain momentum is produced, the direction can change. One may feel that the experience of longing if futile and just give and sink into nothingness, while one may take it as a challenge and desire to go against it in the hopes of being victor.

    Some people may even go living life without being aware whether they are in a state of existence or nothingness.  Its is just a certain satisfaction or feeling of dissatisfaction that nags at them and influences their thoughts and actions.

    To simplify, with all the deep thinking and long-winded big words collected in the matter of man’s existence, one can really come up with one general truth and that is: Life, truth and reality are and will always be both subjective and objective. It only depends on how an individual chooses to look at and recognize it.

    [1] Vasilis Politis, Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Aristotle and the Metaphysics [book on-line] (New York: Routledge, 2004, accessed 28 August 2007), 8; available from Questia,; Internet.
    [2] Plato, Plato’s Theory of Knowledge: The Theatatus and the Sophist of Plato, trans. Francis MacDonald Cornford [book on-line] (New York: Liberal Arts Press, 1957, accessed 28 August 2007), 254; available from Questia,; Internet.

    [3] Helmut.Kuhn, Encounter with Nothingness: An Essay on Existentialism. (Hinsdale, IL: Henry Regnery, 1949.) 2;Book on-line. Available from Questia, Internet. Accessed 28 August 2007.

    [4] Vasilis Politis, Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Aristotle and the Metaphysics [book on-line] (New York: Routledge, 2004, accessed 28 August 2007), 8; available from Questia,; Internet.


    [6] Herman Philipse, Heidegger’s Philosophy of Being: A Critical Interpretation. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998.) 18; Book on-line. Available from Questia, Internet. Accessed 28 August 2007.

    [7] Mary Warnock, Existentialism. (Revised ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970.) 4; Book on-line. Available from Questia, Internet. Accessed 28 August 2007.

    [8] Herman Philipse, Heidegger’s Philosophy of Being: A Critical Interpretation. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998.

    [9] Ibid.

    [10] Ronald Grimsley, Existentialist Thought.( 2nd ed. Cardiff, Wales: University of Wales Press, 1960.) 37; Book on-line. Available from Questia, Internet. Accessed 28 August 2007.
    [11] Arthur C Cochrane,. The Existentialists and God: Being and the Being of God in the Thought of Seoren Kierkegaard, Karl Jaspers, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Paul Tillich, Etienne Gilson [And] Karl Barth. (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1956.) 112; Book on-line. Available from Questia, Internet. Accessed 28 August 2007.

    [12] Ibid. 136

    [13] Tennessee Williams. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof:”p.92. New Directions Publishing 2004ct

    [14] Graeme Donald Snooks, The Laws of History. (London: Routledge, 1998.) 26; Book on-line. Available from Questia, Internet. Accessed 28 August 2007.

    [15]  W.T. Stace. The Philosophy of Hegel: A Systematic Exposition. New York: Dover Publications, 1955.) 44; Book on-line. Available from Questia, Internet. Accessed 28 August 2007.

    [16] The Search for Being: Essays from Kierkegaard to Sarte on the Problem of Existence. Translated by Wilde, Jean T. and William Kimmel. Edited by Jean T. Wilde and William Kimmel. New York: Noonday Press, 1962. Book on-line. Available from Questia, Internet. Accessed 28 August 2007.

    [17] Paul Arthur Schilpp, , ed. The Philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre. (La Salle, IL: Open Court, 1997.)48; Book on-line. Available from Questia, Internet. Accessed 28 August 2007.

    [18] Paul Arthur Schilpp, , ed. The Philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre. (La Salle, IL: Open Court, 1997)127.

    [19] Tennessee Williams. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof:”p.23. New Directions Publishing 2004ct
    [20] Paul Arthur Schilpp, ed. The Philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre. 128.La Salle, IL: Open Court, 1997
    [21] Gregor Malantschuk,. Kierkegaard’s Concept of Existence. Translated by Hong, Howard V. and Edna H. Hong. Edited by Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong. Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 2003. Book on-line. Available from Questia, Internet. Accessed 28 August 2007.

    [22] Ibid.

    [23] Ibid.

    [24] “theist” is defined as the belief in the existence of one or more divinities or deities
    [25] Tennessee Williams. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof:”p.48. New Directions Publishing 2004ct

    [26] Ibid. page 19

    [27] Arland Ussher, Journey through Dread: A Study of Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and Sartre. New York: Biblo and Tannen, 1968. Book on-line. Available from Questia, Internet. Accessed 28 August 2007.

    [28] Tennessee Williams. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof:”p.25. New Directions Publishing 2004ct

    [29] Ibid, pp. 62-63

    [30] Ibid p. 37

    [31] Arland Ussher, Journey through Dread: A Study of Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and Sartre. (New York: Biblo and Tannen, 1968.)52; Book on-line. Available from Questia, Internet. Accessed 28 August 2007.

    [32] Abraham H. Maslow, The Maslow Business Reader, ed. Stephens, Deborah C. [book on-line] (New York:Wiley, 2000, accessed 28 August 2007), 156; available from Questia,; Internet.

    [33] Arthur C Cochrane, The Existentialists and God: Being and the Being of God in the Thought of Seoren Kierkegaard, Karl Jaspers, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Paul Tillich, Etienne Gilson [And] Karl Barth. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1956. Book on-line. Available from Questia, Internet. Accessed 28 August 2007.

    [34] Tennessee Williams. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof:”. New Directions Publishing 2004ct p.98-99

    35 Paul K Moser and J. D. Trout, Contemporary Materialism: A Reader. New York: Routledge, 1995. 4. Book on-line. Available from Questia, Internet. Accessed 28 August 2007.

    [36] Tennessee Williams. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof:” New Directions Publishing 2004ct p.8

    [37] Ibid p.77

    [38] Ibid p.159

    [39] Ibid p. 112

    [40] Ibid p. 88
    [41] Ibid p. 79
    [42] Tennessee Williams. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof:”. New Directions Publishing 2004c p.54
    [43] Ibid p. 55
    [44] Ibid p. 61
    [45] Ibid pp. 88-89

    [46] Tennessee Williams. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof:”. New Directions Publishing 2004c p.91

    [47] Ibid p. 27

    [48] Ted Honderich, The Consequences of Determinism: A Theory of Determinism, Vol. 2 [book on-line] (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990, accessed 28 August 2007), 147.available from Questia,; Internet.

    [49] Leonard W. Dobb, Inevitability: Determinism, Fatalism, and Destiny [book on-line] (New York: Greenwood Press, 1988, accessed 28 August 2007), iii; available from Questia,; Internet.

    [50] Tennessee Williams. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof:”p.73. New Directions Publishing 2004c

    [51] Paul Arthur Schilpp, ed. The Philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre. La Salle, (IL: Open Court, 1997.) 28;Book on-line. Available from Questia, Internet. Accessed 28 August 2007.
    [52] Paul Arthur Schilpp, ed. The Philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre

    [53]  Richard E. Baker, The Dynamics of the Absurd in the Existentialist Novel [book on-line] (New York: P. Lang, 1993, accessed 27 August 2007), 31; available from Questia,; Internet.

    [54] The Search for Being: Essays from Kierkegaard to Sarte on the Problem of Existence, ed. Wilde, Jean T. andWilliam Kimmel, trans. Jean T. Wilde and William Kimmel [book on-line] (New York: Noonday Press, 1962, accessed 28 August 2007), 452

    [55] Tennessee Williams. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof:”p.92. New Directions Publishing 2004ct

    [56]  Arland Ussher, Journey through Dread: A Study of Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and Sartre [book on-line] (New York: Biblo and Tannen, 1968, accessed 27 August 2007), 27; available from Questia,; Internet.

    [57] Tennessee Williams. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof:”. New Directions Publishing 2004ct p.94

    [58] Ibid p.95.

    [59] Kuhn, Helmut. Encounter with Nothingness: An Essay on Existentialism. Hinsdale, IL: Henry Regnery, 1949. Book on-line. Available from Questia, Internet. Accessed 28 August 2007.

    [60] Tennessee Williams. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof:”p.110. New Directions Publishing 2004ct

    [61] Ibid New Directions Publishing 2004ct p.86.

    [62] Tennessee Williams. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof:” New Directions Publishing 2004ct p. 93

    [63] From Nobel Lectures, Literature 1901-1967, Editor Horst Frenz, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1969

    [64] Ibid. p.98.

    [65] Tennessee Williams. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof:” p. 98
    [66] Tennessee Williams. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof:”p.33. New Directions Publishing 2004ct

    [67] Ibid p 58

    [68] Ibid p 52

    [69] Kant, Immanuel. Immanuel Kant”s Critique of Pure Reason. Translated by Smith, Norman Kemp. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1965. Book on-line. Available from Questia, Internet. Accessed 28 August 2007.

    [70] Ibid.

    [71] Paul Arthur Schilpp, ed., The Philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre [book on-line] (La Salle, IL: Open Court, 1997, accessed 30 August 2007), 13; available from Questia,; Internet.

    [72]  John K. Noyes, The Mastery of Submission: Inventions of Masochism [book on-line]

    (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997, accessed 27 August 2007), 54; available from Questia,; Internet.

    [73] Arland Ussher, Journey through Dread: A Study of Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and Sartre [book on-line] (New York: Biblo and Tannen, 1968, accessed 30 August 2007), 21; available from Questia,; Internet.

    [74] Helmut Kuhn, Encounter with Nothingness: An Essay on Existentialism. Hinsdale, IL: Henry Regnery, 1949. Book on-line. Available from Questia, Internet. (Accessed 28 August 2007.)

    [75] Thornhill, Chris, “Karl Jaspers”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2006 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <>.

    [76] Tennessee Williams. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof:”p.35. New Directions Publishing 2004ct

    [77] Ibid. p. 32
    [78] Tennessee Williams. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof:”p.167. New Directions Publishing 2004ct

    [79] Ibid. p 168-169

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