The Little Foxes by Lillian Hellman

The Little Foxes by Lillian Hellman

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Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes shows a large amount of feminism throughout the play. Lillian intertwines economical independent with feminism several times. Regina Hubbard is constantly the main character involved with the economical independence and feminism. Birdy and Alexandra Hubbard are portrayed for their ability to rise above the oppression that surrounds them during most of the play.

Hellman’s portrayal of Regina shows her as the wickedest character. This serves as a foundation to the message that when women are powerless they will do anything to over come it (Friedman 81). Regina shows her true nature towards the end of the play. Regina was forced to stay with Horace after she married him because she had none of her own financial backing. Since Hellman had equated money with independence Regina has no choice but to stay with Horace until she gains her own money and in turn her independence. Her strife for independence highlights her feminist nature. She is willing to endure unhappiness for as long as it takes to be independent (Friedman 82). Regina appears cold and conniving. While her husband lays dying in the house, she tells her bothers and Leo that she can put them in jail for what they have done all while keeping it unknown that she does not really know what happened. Her calm and calculating demeanor as she negotiates shows her as a very focused person. Even though her husband lies dying she only appears to care about her money and how she can manipulate her brothers to her advantage (Galens 166). Regina says that she marries Horace solely for his money and status. She stats that she hates him and cannot wait until he dies. This outburst that shows Regina’s true feelings allows the reader to see her as a feminist in a way. She was so determined to get what she wanted that she bounded herself in a situation that she abhors for years just for a chance to achieve her goal (Galens 156). At the end of the play Alexandra ask her mother is she afraid (225). This line parallels the one in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf. This gives the idea that Regina only terrorized others as a coping mechanism to get over her own fears. Regina’s ability to overcome her fears shows her feminist side despite the immoral methods she chose (lord 146).

Regina’s daughter Alexandra has had her decisions made for her by her mother in the early parts of the play.

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Regina decides that she will use Alexandra to try and obtain money. She does this by promising Alexandra’s hand in marriage to her brother’s son, Leo (Hellman 171). This shows how controlled Alexandra’s life was. Regina tried to limit Alexandra’s vocal opinions. An example of this is when Regina sends her to get her father. Regina tells Alexandra to tell her father that she wants him to come home. When Alexandra questions why her mother wants her to say these things, she is basically told that she should say it because Regina said so. Alexandra’s courage to leave her mother and everything she has known her life and her choice to stand against the Hubbard’s show the determination in her. She exhibits feminist characteristics by deciding to fight against the Hubbard family with a plan to succeed.

Birdy Hubbard is suppressed throughout most of the play. When Marshal comes to visit, he asks Birdy to see an autograph she mentions in conversation. While Birdy, giddy that marshal wants to see the autograph, makes arrangements to get it, Oscar stops her. Oscar says that marshal was lying to entertain Birdy and that he has no interest in the autograph. This crushes Birdy spirits and sends her into a depressed state. When marshal questions Birdy demeanor, Oscar intervenes with a lie and says that she has a headache (Hellman 156). Later in the play Birdy revels that whenever she does something Oscar dislikes or does not want her to participate in he always says that she has a headache. Once, Birdy expresses her hope to restore Lionnet, her family plantation that the Hubbard’s stole, to its former glory. Oscar dismisses this dream of hers very quickly (Hellman 163). Ben began making rude comments about her family, Birdy defends them saying that they were good to the African Americans on their plantation. She was soon after interrupted by Regina so she could not finish expressing her feelings (Hellman 164). This shows us a glimpse of Birdy’s independence and this is one of the first signs of her standing up for herself and family. As the play progresses we see birdy build more confidence and less tolerance for the tyrant words of the Hubbard’s. Towards the end, birdy is heavily intoxicated and she speaks plainly about the Hubbard’s and how terrible they are (205). Birdy is also ashamed of her own son so much so that she brutally expresses to Alexandra that no matter what she must not marry Leo (173). Each of Birdy’s outbursts shows us a little more of the feminist side in her that is often hidden.

The characters in The Little Foxes show a clear feminist perspective. Regina rises above her primary economical status and she does whatever it takes to get her to the top. Birdy shows signs of rebellion against the unfair way she is often treated by the Hubbard’s. Alexandra plainly rebels from her normal lifestyle with her mother and the Hubbard’s when she decided to leave and stop them from creating more chaos in the wake of their journey to success. Each of these actions by the female characters confirms the manifestation of feminism in throughout the play.
Work cited

Friedman, Sharon. "Feminism as Theme in Twentieth-century American Women's Drama." American Studies 25 (1984): 69-89. University of Kansas Libraries. Web. 9 Feb. 2014.

Galens, David, and Lynn Spampinato. Ed. Drama for Students: Presenting Analysis, Context and Criticism on Commonly Studied Dramas. Detroit: Gale Research, 1998. Print.

Hellman, Lillian. The Little Foxes. Six Plays. New York: Vintage, 1979. Print.

Lord, M. G. The Accidental Feminist: How Elizabeth Taylor Raised Our Consciousness and We Were Too Distracted by Her Beauty to Notice. New York: Walker &, 2012. Print.

Murphy, Brenda. "Lillian Hellman: Feminism, Formalism and Politics." The Cambridge Companion to American Women Playwrights. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1999. Print.
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