Honors College

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Publication Date



Clifford Odets and Lillian Hellman were two of the most influential playwrights of the 1930s, which was a decade of economic instability and political unrest in the United States. Odets began his career in 1935 with his workers’ theatre smash hit Waiting for Lefty. Hellman’s career took off with the premiere of her drama The Children’s Hour. Both playwrights generated controversy with their plays through the emphasis of Popular Front values. They were influenced by the political, social, and economic conditions in the 1930s. An in-depth analysis of their plays reveals how the interrelationship between playwright and society is best understood through an examination of the role of male and female characters and the role of class in their plays. With a look at two plays each by both Odets and Hellman, the playwrights’ works offer insight into the changes in society as well as the development of the decade’s cultural history.