Crimes of the Heart by Beth Henley The play, Crimes of the Heart, written by Beth Henley, is brilliantly charming, and Henley is completely deserving of her Pulitzer-Prize for this piece. My mother suggested I read this play because she says that I am very much like one of the main characters Lenny Magrath, and she said that I would be able to relate to many parts of the story. I found that the beginning of the play was somewhat slow and not very uplifting, but as the play progressed, I found it to be heart-warming, intriguing, and overall very entertaining. Henley, being from the South herself, wrote many of her plays in a small southern town setting. The intended meaning of this play is one that can be interpreted in many ways, depending on the reader, but what I believe to be the meaning, that the author was trying to send across, was to simply share the story of three sisters, who no matter how far misunderstandings, quarrels, or rages stretch the bonds between them, the sisters always bounce back to the core of their family which is love.
Though they go through many hardships, including sibling conflicts, personal problems and the inevitable death of their grandfather, through everything, family proves to be a very important key factor in their difficult lives. The bonds formed between the members of your own family is one of the most solid things in life, and in turn should always be something you can count on. The plays title Crimes of the Heart, relates directly to the play in many key ways that Henley makes evident as the play progresses. The three sisters, all lead very separate lives and are very individual in their characters and personalities but all, in one way or another, commit crimes of the heart. But I believe that the title is derived directly from Babes situation.
She has the most problems, from an abusive husband, to trying to find love in a secret relationship with a 15 year old black boy named Willie Jay. When her husband, Zachary Botrelle, discovers this relationship, Babe attempts to kill him and is placed on trial for this attempted homicide. The title is thus derived. However, it is also, I believe, a crime not to follow your heart’s desires. The play had allot of meaning, to me in particular, because I in a way, am like Lenny, the eldest sister.
I am, as she is, the glue in the family. I am the one who helps and puts forth much effort to keep the family bonds strong. My brother is going through a difficult battle with a brain tumor, and through these unimaginable and unexplainably hard times that my family is experiencing, I have had to be the emotionally strong one, pulling my parents together for my little brothers sake. Having to watch my parents come apart and lose it in front of me, the two people who are supposed to keep us, the children, from falling apart, and be strong for us, has been a an experience which has tested my emotional and physical limits. I am not bitter towards them in any way, but it has been a burden that I, at 19 years old, and being a college student, was not ready to take on, and it has been a test of my overall strength.
But I am grateful to have had my other brother there to help ease the pain for my family when I cannot be with them. Lenny, in the play, is the one of the three sisters, who willingly took on the responsibility of caring for their dying grandfather. She is also the one who has kept the three sisters together. Her character is one that I admire for many reasons. There is one major difference between the two of us, which is that I am not an overall unhappy person. She made her misery her life, when it should have just been issues that she had to deal with and move on form like most people do. I believe that the audience can relate to many parts of the play in one way or another.
Whether it is having dealt with death of a close family member, or a relative that shares some of the qualities of the three sisters. Beth Henley, was a southern woman, growing up in a small Mississippi town. She is acknowledged as a scholar, and best known for writing plays combining comedy and suffering, and capture the essence of southern living, in settings of small towns in the South. She is also recognized as an author that uses women as the main characters. They are usually very misfortunate, and act in ways that are a reaction to the role that men have had men in their lives. In this play, all these defining qualities are shown.
One of the women is repressed, one irrepressible, and one is suffering mentally due to being the middle child and they all are scarred by the abandonment of their father and how it affected their mother. Crimes of the Heart, was first performed by the Actors Theater on February 18, 1979. Many things were happening at that time. One event, though not in any way a major one, was the birth of myself. Crimes of the Heart, is a play of fierce, yet tactful complexity and its humor is somewhat unorthodox. The basic story of this play is of three eccentric sisters who are brought back together, when one of the sisters, Babe, shot her husband in the stomach and was arrested.
This occurs simultaneously with the last few days of life for their grandfather. Each character has some major conflicts, all are direct or indirect results of their father abandoning them and their mother. Lenny, was the eldest of the three sisters, and coped with being the eldest and the only sensible one of the three, and the only one who deeply sacrificed for the other members of her immediate and extended family. Lenny, overall, was very unhappy with her life. To add to her already sad life, within the first few pages of the play, Lenny celebrated her birthday alone, put candles on cookies, and sang to herself. She had no boyfriend, and the only one she ever had, that she cared deeply about, she ended the relationship with.
She learned that she had a weak ovary while in the relationship, in fear of being hurt and abandoned by him, after he found out that she could not have children, she left him before he could leave her. Lenny realized that she was most likely going to grow old alone, and never get married, and it became a major internal conflict for her. Another conflict, that is later revealed to be major, is Lennys jealousy of Meg, the younger sister, and the favoritism that was shown towards her as they were all growing up. Meg, twenty-seven years of age, dealt with being the middle child and suffers obvious mental problems, an obsession with death, from being the sister to find their dead mother and cat hanged in the cellar, a suicide not a homicide. She was also dealing with her failed o attempt at a successful career as a singer and actress in Hollywood. Finally there was Babe, twenty-four years of age and the youngest.
She was the most inexperienced and least intelligent of the three, and extremely naive, which gave her a somewhat ditsy quality. With all these mental pitfa …