The Children's Hour

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The 1934 stage play written by Lillian Hellman entitled, "The Children's Hour" is a drama set in an all female boarding school ran by two women characters named Karen Wright and Martha Dobie. Once an angry student named Mary Tilford runs away and refuses to be sent back, she starts a rumor about the two women having a lesbian affair. This false rumor then begins to ruin the two women's lives, careers, and relationships.

A few reoccurring themes can be seen throughout the entire play. One example of these themes that are displayed in the playwright is power. The concept of power gives a person the ability to control things other than themselves that is beyond them. In the play "The Children's Hour", the power exhibited was about the destructive power a lie told by a young girl. The young girl named Mary Tilford is unaware of the great damage her small lie will cost these two women who have no idea how drastic their lives are about to change. Towards the end of the play, Karen agrees to let Mrs. Tilford give her money in order to help the older woman "feel better" about somewhat being the cause of Martha's death. Mrs. Tilford exercises this power she has unchecked; sympathy for the victimized because the perpetrator detroyed the lives of Karen and Martha over a lie. This perertrator happened to be her young granddaughter who she is blinded by her credibility because she loves her so much. The sympathy shown in the play reveals that the power is constructed, not inherent in a righteous position. In the 1961 film version of the story, however, Karen is first cold and angry with Mrs.Tilford when she goes to share her condolences over the tragic death of her former friend and colleague Martha. She addresses her by saying, "Go away Mrs.Tilford, there's nothing that we want from you" (67). In the play Karen, in a way, takes her power back that was taken from her by her refusal to show any compassion or mercy when Mrs. Tilford confesses to her Mary's horrible lie. She...
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