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The Night of the Iguana

by Tennessee Williams

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410844,469 (3.68)35
Williams wrote: "This is a play about love in its purest terms." It is also Williams's robust and persuasive plea for endurance and resistance in the face of human suffering. The earthy widow Maxine Faulk is proprietress of a rundown hotel at the edge of a Mexican cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean where the defrocked Rev. Shannon, his tour group of ladies from a West Texas women's college, the self-described New England spinster Hannah Jelkes and her ninety-seven-year-old grandfather, Jonathan Coffin ("the world's oldest living and practicing poet"), a family of grotesque Nazi vacationers, and an iguana tied by its throat to the veranda, all find themselves assembled for a rainy and turbulent night. This is the first trade paperback edition ofThe Night of the Iguana and comes with an Introduction by award-winning playwright Doug Wright, the author's original Foreword, the short story "The Night of the Iguana" which was the germ for the play, plus an essay by noted Tennessee Williams scholar, Kenneth Holditch. "I'm tired of conducting services in praise and worship of a senile delinquent--yeah, that's what I said, I shouted! All your Western theologies, the whole mythology of them, are based on the concept of God as a senile delinquent and, by God, I will not and cannot continue to conduct services in praise and worship of this...this...this angry, petulant old man."         --The Rev. T. Lawrence Shannon, fromThe Night of the Iguana… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
Williams was an expert at writing broken characters. This play includes a former minister, an old resort in Mexico, and a bus full of older tourists.

“I still say that I’m not a bird, Mr. Shannon, I’m a human being and when a member of that fantastic species builds a nest in the heart of another, the question of permanence isn’t the first or even the last thing that’s considered.” ( )
  bookworm12 | Apr 9, 2019 |
A beautiful and powerful play; worth reading if you've seen the film because there are some differences. ( )
  belgrade18 | Mar 13, 2019 |
An interesting play by Tennessee Williams that brings out some of his themes that are developed, in more detail, in his later plays. Nonetheless, a good read.

Recommended. ( )
  DanielSTJ | Dec 17, 2018 |
3
  kutheatre | Jun 7, 2015 |
The Night of the Iguana is set on the veranda of a run-down Mexican hotel in 1940. Reverend Shannon, former Episcopal priest and now tour guide, has brought a busload of schoolteachers from a Baptist Female College to the hotel, where he has connections with the owner, the recently widowed Maxine Faulks. Shannon is in hot water this tour group for taking out 16-year-old Charlotte Goodall; Charlotte’s guardian is ready to turn him in to the tour company.
As Shannon is trying to convince the ladies to stay, a 30-something spinster named Hannah Jelkes arrives looking for lodging for her and her grandfather.

So on this night, these people are stuck together, all of them caught at the end of their ropes, like the iguana the Mexican hotel workers catch and tie up during the play.

All of them are trapped with passions and desires and choose to act on them in different ways. Maxine is openly sexual and clear in what—and who—she wants. Shannon was forced out of his church for seducing a minor and for preaching heresy, but it’s never quite clear if he regrets doing it or just regrets getting caught. I suspect the latter. Shannon is filled with anger, but he directs his anger toward those he is wronging. Hannah, on the other hand, is depicted as almost devoid of passion. She has come to respect people who struggle, but for her, it’s not the violence of the struggle but the enduring through it that is important.

It’s interesting that although Hannah seems to have found the healthiest approach to life, she also comes across as the least real of the three main characters. And that makes me wonder how realistic her outlook really is. In choosing endurance and detachment, is she in fact denying her own desires? Has she put them so far from her mind that she doesn’t know what they are? Or has she truly come to a place where fleeting moments of connecting with another soul are sufficient? And are these connections that she prizes really connections?

Williams is a master at creating complex characters with ambiguous motivations. It’s one of the things I’ve loved about all his plays that I’ve read. I can never quite bring myself to like his characters, but I do find them fascinating. The Night of the Iguana was no exception on that score.

See my complete review at Shelf Love. ( )
1 vote teresakayep | Mar 27, 2010 |
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And so, as kinsmen met a night,


We talked between the rooms,

Until the moss had reached our lips.

And covered up our names.

EMILY DICKINSON
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As the curtain rises, there are sounds of a party of excited female tourists arriving by bus on the road down the hill below the Costa Verde hotel.
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This LT work combines editions of Tennessee Williams' later play, Night of the Iguana (1961). It's distinct from Williams' short stories, including "The Night of the Iguana" (1948). Please don't combine the two; thank you.
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Williams wrote: "This is a play about love in its purest terms." It is also Williams's robust and persuasive plea for endurance and resistance in the face of human suffering. The earthy widow Maxine Faulk is proprietress of a rundown hotel at the edge of a Mexican cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean where the defrocked Rev. Shannon, his tour group of ladies from a West Texas women's college, the self-described New England spinster Hannah Jelkes and her ninety-seven-year-old grandfather, Jonathan Coffin ("the world's oldest living and practicing poet"), a family of grotesque Nazi vacationers, and an iguana tied by its throat to the veranda, all find themselves assembled for a rainy and turbulent night. This is the first trade paperback edition ofThe Night of the Iguana and comes with an Introduction by award-winning playwright Doug Wright, the author's original Foreword, the short story "The Night of the Iguana" which was the germ for the play, plus an essay by noted Tennessee Williams scholar, Kenneth Holditch. "I'm tired of conducting services in praise and worship of a senile delinquent--yeah, that's what I said, I shouted! All your Western theologies, the whole mythology of them, are based on the concept of God as a senile delinquent and, by God, I will not and cannot continue to conduct services in praise and worship of this...this...this angry, petulant old man."         --The Rev. T. Lawrence Shannon, fromThe Night of the Iguana

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