Lillian Hellman's Feminist Concern in the Children's Hour

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Between the dark and the daylight, When the night is beginning to lower, Comes a pause in the day's occupations That is known as the Children's Hour. __ Henry Wadsworth. Longfellow, "The Children's Hour" And every word will have a new meaning. You think we'll be able to run away from that? Woman, child, love, lawyer -- no words that we can use in safety anymore. Sick, high-tragic people. That's what we'll be. __ Lillian Hellman, The Children's Hour While Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "The Children's Hour" as quoted above eulogizes the happy hour for the children to play "between dark and daylight", Lillian Hellman's play by the same name deals with a dark hour when children, particularly one child of fourteen years old, gets what she wants which results in the end of her teachers' boarding school for girls and the suicide of one of them. The Children's Hour (1934) is the first play written by Lillian Hellman (1905-1984), "the sole woman considered a major playwright during the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, an era when Eugene O'Neill, Arthur Miller, and Tennessee Williams reigns." (Burke, 104). Running for 691 performances, it enjoys the longest run of any of Hellman's plays. Theatre critics in New York hail it and becomes only so furious to see its miss of Pulitzer Prize in 1935 only for its lesbian theme that they instantly form an award of their own -- New York Dramatists Award. Also for the lesbian charges, it was banned in Boston, Chicago and London. Yet it was revived in 1950s with Hellman herself as the director shortly after Hellman's appearance before the House Un-American Activities Committees when Hellman is heroically known as saying she won't cut... ... middle of paper ... ...Sally. American Feminist Playwrights: A Critical History. Twayne Publishers. 1996. Griffrin, Alice and Thorsten, Geraldine. Understanding Lillian Hellman. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1999. Hellman, Lillian. The Collected Plays. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. 7th edition, 1979. (quotations from The Children's Hour are directly marked with their page numbers in brackets in the text.) Murphy, Brenda. ed. The Cambridge Companion to American Women Playwrights. Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Langue Education Press. 2001. Robinson, Lillian S., ed. Modern Women Writers. Vol.2. New York: The Continuum Publishing Company, 1996. Sinfield, Alan. Out on Stage: Lesbian and Gay Theatre in the Twentieth Century, New Heaven & London: Yale University Press, 1999. Wright, William. Lillian Hellman: The Image, The Woman. New York: Ballantine, 1988.

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