In this post, I shall review The Rose Tattoo, a play by Tennessee Williams. It's one of his lesser known plays, but it is not lesser in any other way. There's also a movie version I haven't watched and therefore cannot comment on. I haven't actually seen this play on stage, but I have imagined it. I've also read it a number of times. Some say you cannot understand a play without seeing it on stage, but I think it depends on the play. Some plays are very readable. All  Tennessee Williams's plays are that way for me. When I read them, I both see and feel them. 

I actually wrote this review years ago.You could say it's one of those books that have stayed with me and that I remember fondly. It's been sitting in my blog archives, waiting for the right moment to be presented to my readers. I  think I have found a suitable outfit to publish this book review with. I'm shopping my closet once again. I'm wearing a vintage red  dress paired with matching boots. I paired these two items with a vintage beige blazer (I painted the hearts myself) and a mini grey bag. With all the red in this look, I think I'm matching with the play that is all about love. 


I wore this red and beige styling for a stroll with my husband. We also visited a photography exhibition focused on showcasing Croatian painters and sculptures. It was very interesting!


Playwright Tennessee Williams was born on March 26, 1911 in Columbus, Mississippi. After studying at the University of Missouri in Columbia and Washington University in St. Louis, he earned a BA from the University of Iowa in 1938. He then moved to New Orleans, one of two places where he was for the rest of his life to feel at home. The production of his first two Broadway plays, The Glass Menagerie (1945) and A Streetcar Named Desire (1947), secured his place, along with Eugene O’Neill and Arthur Miller, as one of America’s major playwrights of the 20th century. Critics, playgoers, and fellow dramatists recognized in Williams a poetic innovator who, refusing to be confined in what Stark Young in the New Republic called “the usual sterilities of our playwriting patterns,” pushed drama into new fields, stretched the limits of the individual play and became one of the founders of the so-called “New Drama.” Praising The Glass Menagerie “as a revelation of what superb theater could be,” Brooks Atkinson in Broadway asserted that “Williams’s remembrance of things past gave the theater distinction as a literary medium.” 20 years later, Joanne Stang wrote in the New York Times that “the American theater, indeed theater everywhere, has never been the same” since the premier of The Glass Menagerie. Four decades after that first play, C.W.E. Bigsby in A Critical Introduction to Twentieth-Century American Drama termed it “one of the best works to have come out of the American theater.” A Streetcar Named Desire became only the second play in history to win both the Pulitzer Prize and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. Eric Bentley, in What Is Theatre?, called it the “master-drama of the generation.” “The inevitability of a great work of art,” T.E. Kalem stated in Albert J. Devlin’s Conversations with Tennessee Williams, “is that you cannot imagine the time when it didn’t exist. You can’t imagine a time when Streetcar didn’t exist.”

Williams drew from the experiences of his persona. He saw himself as a shy, sensitive, gifted man trapped in a world where “mendacity” replaced communication, brute violence replaced love, and loneliness was, all too often, the standard human condition. These tensions “at the core of his creation” were identified by Harold Clurman in his introduction to Tennessee Williams: Eight Plays as a terror at what Williams saw in himself and in America, a terror that he must “exorcise” with “his poetic vision.” In an interview collected in Conversations with Tennessee Williams, Williams identified his main theme as a defense of the Old South attitude—”elegance, a love of the beautiful, a romantic attitude toward life”—and “a violent protest against those things that defeat it.” An idealist aware of what he called in a Conversations interview “the merciless harshness of America’s success-oriented society,” he was, ironically, naturalistic as well, conscious of the inaccessibility of that for which he yearned. Early on, he developed, according to John Gassner in Theatre at the Crossroads: Plays and Playwrights of the Mid-Century American Stage, “a precise naturalism” and continued to work toward a “fusion of naturalistic detail with symbolism and poetic sensibility rare in American playwriting.” The result was a unique romanticism, as Kenneth Tynan observed in Curtains, “which is not pale or scented but earthy and robust, the product of a mind vitally infected with the rhythms of human speech.”

Williams’s characters endeavor to embrace the ideal, to advance and not “hold back with the brutes,” a struggle no less valiant for being vain. In A Streetcar Named Desire, Blanche’s idealization of life at Belle Reve, the DuBois plantation, cannot protect her once, in the words of the brutish Stanley Kowalski, she has come “down off them columns” into the “broken world,” the world of sexual desire. Since every human, as Val Xavier observes in Orpheus Descending, is sentenced “to solitary confinement inside our own lonely skins for as long as we live on earth,” the only hope is to try to communicate, to love, and to live—even beyond despair, as The Night of the Iguana teaches. The attempt to communicate often takes the form of sex (and Williams has been accused of obsession with that aspect of human existence), but at other times it becomes a willingness to show compassion, as when in The Night of the Iguana Hannah Jelkes accepts the neuroses of her fellow creatures and when in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Big Daddy understands, as his son Brick cannot, the attachment between Brick and Skipper. In his preface to Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Williams might have been describing his characters’ condition when he spoke of “the outcry of prisoner to prisoner from the cell in solitary where each is confined for the duration of his life.” “The marvel is,” as Tynan stated, that Williams’s “abnormal” view of life, “heightened and spotlighted and slashed with bogey shadows,” can be made to touch his audience’s more normal views, thus achieving that “miracle of communication” Williams believed to be almost impossible.


I have this thing about Tennessee. I had read all of his plays (and a few of his biographies as well). I suppose it could be said that somewhere along the way I just fell in love with his style of writing. 

He is, possibly, one of my favourite playwrights of all time and surely my favourite when it comes to American dramatists. There is something in me that resonates with his preferred subjects of isolation, love, despair and loneliness. Moreover, there is something quite magical about the way he employs words. His plays are incredibly poetic and lyrical. This play is no exception. Perhaps it could be said that he used dreamy words to create a safe haven where his overly fragile heroines can truly shine. He shows us a world within a world, he takes us into a journey into the human soul and I love him for it.

“Everybody is nothing until you love them.”

The Rose Tattoo is a hidden gem. It may not be one of his best known works, but it is a great play. Beautifully written (has ever a playwright been more lyrical?) and profoundly touching. Its exploration of daughter and mother relationship, is just as ingenious and skilful as the one in the better know The Glass Menagerie. As is often the case with Williams, it is a female character that is in the centre of the play. 

 Serafina, for you everything has got to be a different 
 sign, a miracle, a wonder of some kind. You speak to Our 
Lady. You say that She answers your questions. She nods or 
shakes Her head at you. Look, Serafina, underneath Our 
Lady you have a candle. The wind through the shutters 
makes the candle flicker. The shadows move. Our Lady 
seems to be nodding.

This time the tragic heroine is Serafina Delle Rose. Serafina is portrayed tenderly but with great attention to detail. Her portrayal is precious. Serafina, is shown to us, as a woman, as a human being with faults and virtues. Just like Blanche from Streetcar she has her shortcomings and the way she behaves is sometimes quite absurd. Nevertheless, Serafina, like Blanche, possesses a great inner strength. Is Serafina a strong woman? That she certainly is. She doesn't give up easily, she defends her choices with all she has got and in the process takes us on a road of soul-searching with her.

The play opens with Serafina sitting on the sofa waiting for her husband Rosario's return. Serafina is a Sicilian women living in USA. She absolutely worships her husband and makes him the very purpose of her life. She makes a religion out of her love, as her adoration of her husband is enforced by her Roman-Catholicism. Having found a complete physical, emotional and spiritual fulfillment in her relationship, it could be said that she is perfectly content. Well, it's not a drama if two people fall in a love, get married and live happily ever after, is it? I don’t think it is a spoiler if I let you know that Serafina’s marriage isn’t as perfect as she believes it to be. She might utterly and absolutely adore her husband, but does he feel the same?

 This play raises many interesting questions about love and explores this subject from different points of view. What is love? Is romantic love an end in itself? What is parental love about? Is romantic love a kind of religion? What is the link between body and soul? Can love go on forever? Is love eternal? Can love between two human beings ever be perfect? The Rose Tattoo is a play that bravely and boldly explores a great number of themes: love, sexuality, loneliness, motherhood etc...

" You love your people but you don't understand them. They find God in each other. Any when they lose each other, they lose God and they're lost. And it is hard to help them" The Rose Tattoo, Tennessee Williams.

The majority of characters in this play are Sicilians. I think that T.W. once said that Italians were his kind of people. Perhaps there was something in their tempter that reminded him of Southern Americans and their French influenced ways. I would say that the writer does manages to capture something of Sicilian culture in this one. Williams doesn't stereotype Sicilians, nor does he turn them into a caricatures, which is obviously, a good thing. Another thing that deserves to be mentioned is the complex characterization. 

Serafina and her daughter are the main characters of this play. Similarly, to The Glass Menagerie, their portrayal is often highlighted with by contrasting them one to another. There is a clash of generations but also of desires, as Serafina’s daughter grows up she wants a life (and love) of her own. Serafina loves her daughter, but haunted by the tragedy of her lost love, she struggles to connected to her daughter, the very product of that love that consumes her so. Loneliness and isolation are something that can be felt in this play. I admire the way that cultures clash in Williams’ plays, he has a unique gift for portraying that. The cultural distance created in his plays often deepens that sense of loneliness and this play is no exception. Serafina belong to another culture, she is an Italian immigrant, isolated and alone, trying to make sense of the world she finds herself in. In Williams’ play it is often the clash between the South and the West of USA that creates trouble and tension, so in that sense this play is only slightly different.

A must read for all fans of Tennessee Williams!

Thank you for visiting and reading. Take care!


  1. Oh, I haven't read him in a while. So glad you are posting about his play! Wonderful RED featured through out the post too. Great to see your review. Wow! incredile collages! thanks so much!

  2. Wonderful to know about this play. I will definitely look for it now. Honestly, I do enjoy reading plays! Enjoying your wonderful red outfit too! I hope you are having a beautiful November. It seems we are getting COVID here. I hope I can have a good Thanksgiving..since I'm hosting this year. All the best to your blog and your beautiful creativity!

    1. Thank you. All the best for your Thanksgiving!

  3. Lindo atuendo. Tengo pendiente ese libro. Gracias por la reseña. Te mando un beso.

  4. I always love to read your reviews, you bring all the books and writers so fantastically close to us and show us how worthwhile it would be to read them. And, yes, the photos are the best. Happy Sunday!

  5. Thanks for your review, you look great...

  6. Bom domingo e bom início de semana. Parabéns pelo seu trabalho e avaliação.

  7. What a great review Ivana, and you look amazing!

  8. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this lesser known Tennessee Williams play.
    The exhibition looks really interesting, and your outfit is absolutely stunning! xxx

  9. Pero que lindo look 🖤

    Un beso desde Plegarias en la Noche

  10. Bom dia e uma excelente segunda-feira Ivana. Look maravilhoso.

  11. Thank you for the Review. "They fing God in each other. And when they lose each other, they lose God" .. i love the Words and your drawings.

  12. Thank you so much Ivana! I'm so happy that you liked my outfit "Le chic"! :) Soon much more ;) Happy week! Kss

    ♥ ★ ♥ GINGER COLLAGE ♥ ★ ♥

  13. I'm a fan of Tennessee Williams' work as well. You are absolutely right that his plays are so poetical and lyrical. My fave is The Glass Menagerie. I haven't read The Rose Tattoo now I want to. Your outfit is so chic. Red is a lovely color on you!

  14. I have never heard about that book. It seems be really interesting.

  15. I really loved your heart blazer, very cute! <3
    And this book looks great, I was curious to know more.

  16. You couldn't have chosen a more appropriate outfit to accompany your Tennessee Williams' review. That dress is fabulous and your blazer is absolutely wonderful.
    Whilst I can name a lot of TW's work I can't remember ever reading any of it! xxx

  17. Hello, Ivana,
    I think there will always be differences between a written play and the play because everything will depend on the director and his interpretation, different directors have different sensibilities! As for your look, it goes perfectly with the theme of the post and I also like your collages, you look magnificent!

  18. Boa tarde e uma excelente quarta-feira minha querida amiga Ivana. Dica literária interessante.

  19. What a lovely outfit! I especially love the booties. Although I seldom recommend movies over books, the film version of this play is excellent. Anna Magnani won Best Actress Oscar and the movie is very good.


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All your comments mean a lot to me, even the criticism. Naravno da mi puno znači što ste uzeli vrijeme da nešto napišete, pa makar to bila i kritika. Per me le vostre parole sono sempre preziose anche quando si tratta di critiche.

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