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The Children's Hour

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  8,595 ratings  ·  97 reviews
Kessinger Publishing is the place to find hundreds of thousands of rare and hard-to-find books with something of interest for everyone
Paperback, 124 pages
Published January 11th 2005 by Kessinger Publishing (first published January 1st 1953)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Petra X
EditI've just had a message (FReq.) saying that I am an evil influence on GR. That no matter what laws man makes, GOD's law is that HOMOSEXUALS are wicked and will be PUNISHED. A woman's destiny is in her WOMB and we are here to be fruitful etc etc.. I cut off comments from no friends a while back, but the trolls still find their way... It was funny so I wanted to share it.

_____

This brings back memories of what a bad girl I was in school When I left I was very pissed off, I'd been expelled yet a
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Eve
About 8 years ago, I had a sort of emotional crisis. I just couldn't deal with the compounded pressures of life, and most especially the breakdown of an intimate relationship, along with the sudden onset of serious illness of a parent. I quit my job, and camped out on my bed for a month watching the AMC and TCM network nonstop. I'm sure you're picturing an unbathed, unshaven me, in weeks old Garfield pajamas, and dirty cereal bowls piled precariously high on one nightstand. I assure you, it was ...more
Jen
I remember being floored by this play when I first read it in high school, not the least reason being we were assigned to read a play with a lesbian theme in a Catholic school. I would say that this is similar to "The Crucible" with a lesbian relationship substituting for witchcraft--except Hellman's play was written 18 years before Miller's. Ultimately it's about the devastating effects of malicious gossip.

I read online that Keira Knightley and Elisabeth Moss (from 'Mad Men') starred in a Lond
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Lori
Abigail Williams (The Crucible) is one of the most hateful literary characters I've ever come across - she's high up on my top 5. Mary Tilford, the little demon, may just have kicked Abigail down a notch on my Characters I Hate the Most list. Although this is a work of fiction, it is scary to think how very possible it is for a bully to intimidate others into spinning a web of lies that can ruin people's personal and professional lives. How someone who has always done right by everyone and worke ...more
Josh Kight
This play has really stood the test of time to become one of the most horrifying and saddening plays ever written. Readers need to understand that the play is less about lesbianism and more about a specific lie. Maybe Hellman did consider lesbianism just a plot device. But "unnatural" love and society's disapproval of it are fundamental to the play, just as anti-Semitism is central to The Merchant of Venice. Readers still argue over whether Shakespeare was criticizing or endorsing the prejudice ...more
Steph
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ellen
Wonderfully evil, and so much better, I believe, than Miller's play, The Crucible on the same theme. The movie version of Heller's play has held up well.
Roxanne
Summary: Martha and Karen are best friends running a school for girls in the early thirties. They have a very close relationship, and their extremely manipulative pupil, Mary, decides to play with this well known fact and start a rumor that they are intimately involved. This rumor starts total uproar as their lives, as they once knew them, are destroyed through prejudice and the power of gossip.
Why it was meaningful: This is an incredibly well written play, absolutely incredible. It blows my mi
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Arielle
Compelling. This play is largely character driven and driven by an event caused by a large and dangerous shortcoming or one character. This character lies. The personalities of the characters are prevalent very early on. Hints are given about the characters and the state of their constitution from the very start of the play. The smallest events seem to add to the big picture of who each character is, so by the end of the first act, the reader knows exactly who each character is, the way they thi ...more
MariLisa
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Jonathan
Our setting is a school run by two women, friends since college. When they punish Mary, one of the students, for faking a heart attack, she runs to her grandma and tells her about how the two women are lesbians. It's an interesting, certainly sad story once everything plays out, but it never reaches the emotional height I was preparing myself for. Mary is perhaps the best character, incredibly devilish and controlling, but her disappearance from the second half weakens the whole structure--no on ...more
Suzanne
Lillian Hellman's great play "A Children's Hour" is the story of two women who run a private school for girls and whose lives are ruined by the evil and vindictive accusations of one of their students. The implications of lesbianism and society's intolerance for differences are among the many themes addressed in this fine work. I believe it is timeless but others may see it as dated. Guilt by accusation remains as much a part of our society as ever...sadly. The inference that homosexuality is eq ...more
Annie
When I took part in a production of this play in december, 2010, we discussed thoroughly the power of a lie. A lie told convincingly has the power to alter the opinions one holds of another. But an expertly crafted lie can also cause the victim to doubt themselves:"Why is it that so many people are so willing to believe this lie? Is there some truth within this lie?" A challenging play I was proud to take part in, even if I was only in the first scene).
Madge
That horrid little beast of a child, omg. I rarely wish bad things on anyone/anything (even fictional characters), but Mary is one of the few exceptions. She and Dolores Umbridge (from Harry Potter) can rot together, cursed with a myriad of ailments and woes, until they die.

*deep breaths to calm down*

Ok, this is one of the few plays I've read, and probably the most modern play I've ever even attempted to read. I'm just not a huge fan of most plays (The Bard's being a big exception), so I tend to
...more
Karina Vargas
The Children’s Hour : ¡5 estrellas!

¡Genial, magnífica! Esta obra de teatro es tan corta como intensa, es simple y a la vez compleja. Combina los elementos suficientes de la niñez y de la adultez.
Se encuentra dividida en tres actos, en los que el dramatismo aumenta a medida que se acerca el final.

No considero que sea necesario siquiera leer la reseña o saber de qué trata previamente, ya que puede ser un poco revelador. Yo casualmente me salté esa parte y arranqué a leerla sin tener ninguna idea
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Hurricanekerrie
I first came across this play while on an acting workshop when I was 11. We did the last scene of Act 1, me playing Mary Tilford. It was a small scene, and though it captured Mary's malevolent quality, it didn't quite expound on the true subject of this play: The Lie. This play is really about what repercussions follow a lie. Sure, it's about the society of the time and their views on homosexuality but at its core, whether it happens in 1930 or 2030, a good lie can go a long way into destroying ...more
Sabrina
Rumor has it...... Classic story of what can happen when a lie and a rumor gets out of hand. I kept hoping that an adult would see past the lies of a spoiled little girl.
Berit
Reminiscent of Henry James' Bostonians, though this play is both wittier and more overtly tragic. Life sure has changed since 1934 (thank goodness!).
Nicole
Very good. Explores the power of persuasion, language, and lies. Much like The Crucible, one child takes the fate of two women (and those connected with them) in her hands by telling a lie. The lie wields such power that she can't help but continue. The themes of this book reminded me much of Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point, where he talks of how an idea can spread and infect. The idea, or lie, in this book, infects beyond the characters outside of the central action (the children, their pa ...more
Craig
A solid reminder of the historical struggle of the LGBT community to be contributing, respected members of society.
Erica
I read this for a theatre competition I'm competing in this month. The main characters were very vivid and really jumped off the page, which as a reader and an actress is a sign of a good play. The plot was very engaging and it was really well played out over the three acts. My only complaint was that some of the scenes felt unnecessary or over-written, which can make a play drag very easily. Still, I really enjoyed it, especially since it's an all female cast besides one male. Which, for the ti ...more
Mimi
This is a powerful play that really confirms to me that more things change, the more things stay the same! As a result of Banned Books Weeks, I was reviewing the lists of banned/censored books/plays/poems and Lillian Helman's "The Children's Hour" caught my attention. The original play was written in 1934 and subsequently banned in Boston, Chicago and London for "hints of homosexuality." It's the story of how two women, best friends since childhood, have established a lovely and successful board ...more
Tony
THE CHILDREN’S HOUR. (1934). Lillian Hellman. ****.
Hellman (1905-1984) burst on to the Broadway scene with this, her first play. It was extremely popular, running for over two years. The draw was in its taboo subject: lesbianism. Most of the action occurs in the Wright-Dobie School for Girls in the small town of Lancet. It is a relatively new business run by two young women who have been working hard to make it a success. They are finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel after years of scr
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Denise
I have long been a fan of the movie The Children's Hour, starring Audrey Hepburn and Shirley Maclaine, and someone had given me a copy of the play by Lillian Hellman some time ago, so when a page-to-screen challenge came up in one of my groups, I decided to read it, buy the movie, and watch it. Despite the innocent-sounding title, this is a very adult story, involving the destruction of several characters' lives by an untrue story told by a malicious little girl. Karen and Martha have establishe ...more
Dani Peloquin
The Children's Hour single handedly made me a Lillian Hellman fan. The story is of two women who run a boarding school for girls in the 1930s. When a rumor is spread that the headmistresses are having a lesbian affair, the school changes from being their dream to their nightmare. While the rumor is a lie, Hellman explores the impact of a lie and the ripples that it causes. No one is left unscathed in this beautifully written play. Friendships and relationships are tested when both women go to co ...more
James
I've seen the film version from the thirties, "These Three" and the sixties film "The Children's Hour" and I was entertained with both. Having seen those films has led me to read this play, which I find is still quite relevant in society today. We often are told lies that prejudice our views of others, and this play shows how destructive a lie can be. It reminded me of Shanley's "Doubt" in away. Especially the scene where Father Flynn while giving mass speaks of how truly destructive gossip can ...more
Maddsurgeon
This text seems to have grown on me since I saw a community theatre production a few years back. I didn't like The Little Foxes at all, as it seemed to be nothing but a bunch of nasty people doing nasty things to each other, but either I've grown to appreciate Hellman's style, or this play is more meaningful.

A little girl slanders her teachers to get out of trouble -- tells her grandmother they've been carrying on a lesbian relationship at the boarding school. The statement ruins them, and the s
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Neil
A very unhappy schoolgirl drops hints that two of the teachers are lesbians and bullies some of her classmates into corroborating the story. One of the teachers probably is a lesbian, the other probably isn't, but that's not really the point. Livelihoods are ruined for no good reason.

The story is a bit dated, although perhaps not as much as one would like to think. The teachers probably wouldn't be fired now, but a lot of people are still bigoted and the whispers would still be damaging. And the
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Hannah
OH. MY. GOODNESS. This play will literally make you want to reach into the pages and strangle this little girl. SO EVIL, and without any creepy I-can-make-my-head-rotate-360-degrees kind of thing. I read this in my 20th Century Women's Lit class, and the crazy thing was, other people in the class somehow thought the grandmother or someone else was to blame for what happened. AREYOUKIDDINGMEIT'SSOTHEEVILLITTLEGIRL. Read it and you'll agree with me. You must agree with me.

Part of why I like it,
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Harika Shah
This is a serious and adult play about two women who run a school for girls. After a malicious youngster starts a rumour about the two women, the rumour soon turns into a scandal. As the young girl comes to understand the power she wields, she sticks by her story, which precipitates tragedy for the women. It is later discovered that the gossip was pure invention, but it is too late. Irreparable damage has been done
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Lillian Florence "Lilly" Hellman (June 20, 1905 – June 30, 1984) was an American dramatist and screenwriter famously blacklisted by the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) at the height of the anti-communist campaigns of 1947–52.

Hellman was praised for sacrificing her career by refusing to answer questions by HUAC; but her denial that she had ever belonged to the Communist Party was e
...more
More about Lillian Hellman...
The Little Foxes Pentimento An Unfinished Woman: A Memoir Scoundrel Time Six Plays: The Children's Hour / Days to Come / The Little Foxes / Watch on the Rhine / Another Part of the Forest / The Autumn Garden

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