Set in small Southern town , it centers on Regina Hubbard Giddens, who conspires with her brothers for control of a family business belonging to her husband, in an era when men were seen as the only legal heirs. The play has been staged and in revival ever since it was first opened on Broadway in This, they hope, will come from Horace, who has been in the hospital with a heart ailment. Horace is beset by his relatives the first hour of his homecoming, but refuses to commit himself. However, knowing that he is to be short-lived, Horace has his box brought to him.
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Buy Study Guide Summary Act 1. Addie , a year-old black servant, is closing the windows. Then Cal, another black servant, comes in with a tray with 10 glasses and port wine. Addie questions Cal about the port and he tells her that Regina told him to get the bottle for a "mighty honored guest.
As the servants talk, Birdie Hubbard, a woman in her 40s, enters. Hellman writes, "Her movements are usually nervous and timid, but now, as she comes running into the room, she is gay and excited. She discusses the fact that her parents used to go to Europe to see operas, alluding to her old family wealth, as Oscar Hubbard comes in.
He immediately orders Cal not to send someone to get the record and berates his wife. Marshall said most specially he wanted to see my album. I told him about the time Mama met Wagner and Mrs. Wagner gave her the signed program and the big picture," Birdie says. Oscar tells her that she is boring their guest, Mr. Marshall, and accuses Birdie of having had too much wine. Then Benjamin Hubbard comes in. Regina discusses with Marshall the fact that she loves Chicago and would rather live there than in the South.
Marshall tells Regina and the others, " You live better than the rest of us, you eat better, you drink better. I wonder you find time, or want to find time, to do business. Marshall asks if they are in the same business and Ben tells him that he and Oscar are, but Regina is married to a banker. Marshall asks Birdie if she has found the record with the Wagner signature on it, but Birdie, intimidated by her husband, tells Marshall that she has a headache and was unable to get the record.
Alexandra asks Birdie if she wants to play a duet with her, and Oscar tells her to do so. They go to the piano and discuss the piece, as Marshall waxes poetic about how the "Southern aristocracy" has managed to stay together. Ben clarifies that they are not actually aristocrats, that Birdie is the only truly aristocratic member of the family as her family owned a very successful plantation by the time that the Hubbards had arrived in the area.
Everybody knew that. We were better to them than—" Birdie gets interrupted, before telling Marshall that her father was killed in the war. Ben tells Marshall that Lionnet, the family plantation, was almost ruined. Oscar notes that Ben likes to say that they work hard to bring some prosperity to the region. Ben tells Leo to pour everyone some more port, and tells Marshall, "Down here, sir, we have a strange custom.
We drink the last drink for a toast. Marshall asks Regina to promise to visit him in Chicago and she does. After he leaves, Regina turns to Birdie and says, "And there, Birdie, goes the man who has opened the door to our future.
Analysis The first scene of the play introduces us to the tragic figure of Birdie, a member of the Southern aristocracy, and her rather abusive husband, Oscar, who regularly belittles her.
Birdie is seemingly a bit of an alcoholic, a woman who reminisces about the glamorous Southern life her parents shared, and longs for an affection that Oscar refuses to give her. Their relationship is monied and refined, but strained and emotionally imbalanced. The play is as much about the South as it is about anything. Before much of the action of the play has taken place, we have learned something about the economy and hierarchies of the South. The first characters we see in the play are black servants, remnants of the only-recently-dismantled institution of slavery.
Birdie talks about her family as Southern aristocracy, Americans who could afford to travel to Europe just to hear an opera. Furthermore, as William Marshall notes, " While their quality of life may be quite fine, the Hubbards are not exactly a happy family. They put on a show for William Marshall, playing their parts as members of a tight-knit family, but in isolated moments we see that they are quite abrasive and dismissive towards one another.
Not only is Oscar cruel to his wife, he is also cruel to his son, Leo, who earnestly wants to feel part of the family. In this way, we see that the "Southern aristocracy" to which the Hubbards belong is a mirage of civility and closeness. Southern aristocracy is a crumbling facade rather than a stable unit. Birdie and Regina are very different. While Birdie is a much-maligned daughter of the Southern aristocracy, Regina feels she has something to prove. I said I think you should either be a nigger or a millionaire.
In between, like us, what for? Birdie, meanwhile, has no such pretensions or ambitions, as she is the daughter of plantation owners and so has a great deal of wealth. She has nothing to prove, but she has her fair share of disappointments, isolated by her abusive business-savvy husband, who seems to care only for her pedigree.
The abusive structure has caused her to misunderstand her own social value, and she shrinks behind her reliance on drinking in order to drown the sorrow of her isolation.
The Little Foxes
Buy Study Guide Summary Act 1. Addie , a year-old black servant, is closing the windows. Then Cal, another black servant, comes in with a tray with 10 glasses and port wine. Addie questions Cal about the port and he tells her that Regina told him to get the bottle for a "mighty honored guest. As the servants talk, Birdie Hubbard, a woman in her 40s, enters. Hellman writes, "Her movements are usually nervous and timid, but now, as she comes running into the room, she is gay and excited.
During most of her childhood she spent half of each year in New Orleans, in a boarding home run by her aunts, and the other half in New York City. She studied for two years at New York University and then took several courses at Columbia University. She felt an initial attraction to a Nazi student group that advocated "a kind of socialism" until their questioning about her Jewish ties made their antisemitism clear, and she returned immediately to the United States. While there she met and fell in love with mystery writer Dashiell Hammett. She divorced Kober and returned to New York City in They maintained their relationship off and on until his death in January
The Little Foxes Summary
Tallulah Bankhead as Regina Giddens in the original Broadway production of The Little Foxes The title comes from Chapter 2, Verse 15 in the Song of Solomon in the King James version of the Bible , which reads, "Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes. Warner refused to lend Davis to Goldwyn, who then offered the role to Miriam Hopkins. As a contract player at Warner Bros. Bankhead had portrayed Regina as a victim forced to fight for her survival due to the contempt with which her brothers treated her, but Davis played her as a cold, conniving, calculating woman wearing a death mask of white powder she insisted makeup artist Perc Westmore create for her.
The Little Foxes by Lillian Hellman (1939)