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Night of the Iguana


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A: Tennessee Williams Pf: 1959, Spoleto, Italy; 1961, New York Pb: 1962 G: Drama in 3 acts S: Seaside hotel in Mexico, 1940 C: 8m, 6fT. Lawrence Shannon is a 35-year-old former Episcopalian minister, defrocked for blasphemy and sexual misdemeanours, who now works as a tour guide. He arrives with a busload of Baptist women schoolteachers at a rundown hotel overlooking a beach, which is run by a sexy widow, Maxine Faulk. The ladies are displeased with Shannon for showing them the seamier side of Mexican life and for seducing Charlotte, one of the girls in the party. At the hotel there is a German family, overjoyed at Hitler's conquests in Europe, and a curious couple, a 97-year-old poet Jonathan (Nonno) Coffin and his spinster granddaughter Hannah Jelkes, a watercolourist. When one of the Baptist ladies gets Shannon fired, he goes berserk and has to be restrained by Maxine, who ties him into a hammock the way Mexicans tether iguanas to a tree to fatten them for eating. In a night-long talk, Hannah reveals to him her unfulfilled yearnings, and Shannon tells her of his loss of faith and utter disillusionment with life. The jealous Maxine comes to take Shannon off for a swim in the moonlight, and he agrees to stay with her in her hotel. Hannah's longings remain unfulfilled, and Nonno writes his last poem and dies.

A: Tennessee Williams Pf: 1959, Spoleto, Italy; 1961, New York Pb: 1962 G: Drama in 3 acts S: Seaside hotel in Mexico, 1940 C: 8m, 6f

After exploring sexual perversion and violence in many of his plays, this, Williams's last commercial success, is by comparison gentle and reflective in mood. It explores again the terrible isolation in which human beings (even the superficially jolly Baptist teachers) live, but his play, Williams asserts, shows ‘how to live beyond despair and still live’.

Subjects: Theatre — Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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Tennessee Williams (1911—1983) American dramatist


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