Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Drama)

Crimes of the Heart is about the little crimes people daily commit against each other, crimes of unkindness and insensitivity, forgetfulness and thoughtlessness, fibs and white lies. Although the only genuine crime of the play is Babe’s shooting of Zackery, everyone is guilty of both little everyday sins against others, and larger, more destructive crimes against themselves.

Most obvious of the “criminals” is Chick, who has spent the last several years insulting her cousins with her putdowns, but the sisters are equally guilty. Babe is basically selfish, often thinking only of her own comfort even in the face of the family scandal that she has precipitated. She is concerned with her saxophone and picture album; because she does not want to think about what has happened, she initially refuses even to talk to the lawyer her family has hired for her. Although Meg also appears selfish, her real crime is thoughtlessness, as evidenced in her systematic foray through Lenny’s candy. Having promised to marry Doc, she had left him after his accident during the hurricane five years ago because “I thought I was choking.” The audience learns later that since their mother’s death Meg has been terrified of emotional attachments; nevertheless, her behavior underscores her inability to understand how other people might feel. Lenny’s jealousy of Meg surfaces frequently in her constant reiterations of the jingle bell story and in her readiness to condemn Meg’s treatment of Doc.

The absent Old Granddaddy is in some ways the...

(The entire section is 635 words.)


(Drama for Students)

Much like the playwrights of the Theatre of the Absurd, Henley dramatizes a vision of a disordered universe in which...

(The entire section is 1211 words.)