This paper argues that Tennessee Williams created Maxine Faulk in The Night of the Iguana as a multi-dimensional and also sympathetic character, and that Maxine’s positive qualities are clear in her relationship with Shannon which we see developing throughout the play. Taoism influences her personality just as it did that of her late husband Fred Faulk. Thus a Taoist rather than Christian perspective may provide a clearer and more complete insight into Maxine’s character, just as it can help to establish a philosophical framework for the play. The paper will show how Maxine’s sea-like personality, which reflects ancient Chinese philosophical images or conceptions of the sea, helps to clarify the play’s Taoist theme, as do her Taoist attitudes of “Mei yoo guanchi” (“no sweat”) that foreshadows Hannah’s oriental attitude: “Accept whatever situation you cannot improve.” Both of these attitudes help Shannon, the fulcrum of the play, to come to terms with life by accepting the inevitable consequences of any decision or act, and specifically his acceptance of Maxine at the end of the play after he loses his tour-guide job and decides not to return to the church.
KEYWORDS: Williams, Maxine Faulk, Shannon, conceptions of the sea, Taoism, Chinese cultural influence