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The Children's Hour Essay

678 words - 3 pages

Lillian Florance “Lilly” Hellman is deemed as one of the first important American woman dramatists. She lived up to her last name by challenging the American public with unpopular beliefs of Communism as well as other non-traditional beliefs causing herself to be blacklisted by the House Committee on Un-American Activities. She was born in an affluent, Jewish family on June 20, 1905 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Her mother, Julia Newhouse, stemmed from a successful bankers and liquor dealers, while her father, Max Hellman, was a lucrative shoe salesman. She attended New York University for two years after graduating from high school then transferred to briefly attend Columbia University. In ...view middle of the document...

The drama depicted two women’s lives being destroyed by a young girl who accused them of being lesbian lovers. The accusation advanced to devastate the women’s careers, relationships as well as lives.
It was one of the first formal discussions of homosexuality in American theatre. However, few critics paid attention to the lesbian theme, rather they turned their attention to two other factors which consisted of the lie and the character of Mary. Hellman insisted the play was not initially about homosexuality. She strove to write a play about the potency of a lie; however, she undermined her claimed intentions by having Martha admit her love in the third-act. She also underestimated the potency of her liar. A critic commented in The New York Times on the second of December, “Although the two head mistresses are suspected of an abnormality, which is usually a sensational theme in the theatre, Mary Tilford is the sensation of the play.” Other critics and views described Mary as a “pathological demon”, “imperious”, “cruel and...

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