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Homosexuality and deceit within “The Children’s Hour”

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  1. The element of deception.
  2. The first accusation of homosexuality.
  3. The homosexual lie - its effects on lives.
  4. Martha convinces herself of the lie.
  5. Relevance of homosexuality today.

The Children's Hour by Lillian Hellman is a cautionary play of how small lies can lead people into ruin and self-destruction. The central issue of homosexuality driven by deceit is the cause of turmoil on the lives of the people of Lancet. A whispered lie of a homosexual relationship between two owners of a boarding school spread by a troublemaking and spoiled student, Mary Tilford, leads to the turmoil that weaves its way throughout the community. When confronted with the rumors, neither woman expresses disgust at the thought, simply disappointment with the accuser. Karen Wright and Martha Dobie stand above the fray, becoming support for one another as their lives crumble around them. The issue of homosexuality is still relevant to society today where people are constantly experiencing prejudice as a cause of their choice of lifestyle. Deceit is the cause of the community's betrayal on the two innocent school headmistresses.

[...] In the news and on TV, teachers are always being blacklisted as homosexuals, thus ruining their career in the academic field. Not every case presented in the media is necessarily true. There has been many occurrences where a student has felt threatened by a teacher and uses the worst kind of slander against him or her to make themselves look better, drawing attention off their own bad behavior. Homosexuality is revealed often in the play but never by one's choice. [...]


[...] The boy continuously giggles and stares at the women, with a knowing smirk, showing how the community has come to view the two women. It is at this point that Karen sees the utter helplessness of her situation: ?Karen: Oh. Martha, why did it happen? What happened? What are we doing here like (Page 1404) The feelings of hopelessness and abandonment are encompassed by Karen so completely that one cannot help but feel pity for her situation in life. This ultimately leads to the revelation that Martha has always loved Karen unnaturally. [...]


[...] The panic and utter pandemonium that is taking place almost immediately after Mary has told her grandmother the lie is witnessed when the two headmistresses come to Mrs. Tilford's place. The momentous reaction of the community is shown in a simple yet descriptive line spoken by Martha Dobie: ?Martha: An insane asylum has been let loose.? (Page 1395) This quote shows what Karen and Martha have been going through since Mrs. Tilford has been spreading the lie that her granddaughter started. [...]

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