Critical Evaluation

Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

The Little Foxes is a tale of a greedy, grasping, family trying to create an empire by lying to each other; by using ruthless tactics; by violating the all-important concepts of southern family, love, and support; and by striking at each other like pit vipers. Lillian Hellman’s play has been produced successfully in community theaters and in revivals since its debut in 1939. The universality of its multiple themes accounts for its longevity. The themes of injustices against people of color and ethnic minorities, against women, and against workers have remained constant. Capitalism appears at its worst, with hints at ways in which Marxism and communism might help to counter its evils.

Illustration of PDF document

Download The Little Foxes Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Hellman also deals with opposites and conflicts: Family contention and rivalry; marriage for money or status rather than for love; manipulation as a way of life for getting what one wants; the old South of genteel aristocracy and the changes brought by the North; agrarian culture and industrialism; the freed slaves who have not gained true freedom or any serious respect; false fronts of family harmony covering thieving, conniving, unscrupulous behavior; and disregarding morality for personal gain.

The play’s characters, though often despicable, are real, behaving as one would expect. They are richly drawn, if not multidimensional. Hellman can elicit some sympathy for the unsavory characters, considering the circumstances of their backgrounds, but mainly she makes audiences identify with the good people and marvel at how evil the bad can be. Having Regina sit quietly while her husband struggles to get his life-saving medication is a chiller, as is her announcement that...

(The entire section contains 417 words.)

Unlock This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this The Little Foxes study guide. You'll get access to all of the The Little Foxes content, as well as access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

  • Summary
  • Themes
  • Characters
  • Critical Essays
  • Analysis
  • Teaching Guide
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial



Critical Overview