What are the key themes of 'The Children's Hour' by Lillian Hellman? Thank-you.

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mlsldy3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Children's Hour was a play written by Lillian Hellman in 1934. The theme of the play was very risque at the time. It has the element of two women who may be having a love affair with each other. It was very shocking and thought provoking. 

Karen Wright and Martha Dobie are two friends, who have worked very hard to start a girl's boarding school. They do well except for one student, Mary Tilford, who is not happy about being there. Mary's grandmother, Amelia Tilford, caters to Mary and spoils her. Mary has learned how to be deceptive and manipulative in her young life. Her grandmother won't let her come home, so Mary concocts a story and implies that Karen and Martha are more than just friends. Amelia is horrified to learn this and pulls Mary out of school. She then begins to call the other parents and tell them what Mary has told her. The parents pull their daughter's out of the school. One student, Rosalie Wells, is left at the school. Her parent are overseas. Mary decides to use Rosalie in her attempt to bring down Martha and Karen.

The theme of the play really is all about lies and deception. Mary started a rumor, that was not true, and the whole town turned against the two young women. It is a tragic story of how lives can be damaged and even ruined by one person's hatefulness. One rumor leads to a tragic conclusion, and we need to ask ourselves how this is still relevant today.

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The Children's Hour

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