"The Little Foxes" by Lillian Hellman is a brilliant display of a family driven to disaster by overwhelming greed and desire. Regina, Ben, and Oscar Hubbard are siblings who work together, forsaking all others, to obtain for themselves money and power. These three "foxes" attempt to form a partnership with Mr. Marshall, a business man from Chicago, which would help to bring the northern cotton factories down to the south. Originally, it is agreed that the three will split the profit evenly, but Regina grows greedy when she realizes that there is a possibility for her to get more. She deceives her brothers, claiming that her husband Horace has failed to commit to the plan because he desires a larger percentage of the profit. But when the ailing Horace is brought home by his daughter Alexandra, he learns of the plans of his deceptive wife. He decides to take no part in this plan saying, "I'll do no more harm now. I've done enough. I'll die my own way. I'll do it without making the world any worse. I leave that to you." Once again, the evil within the Hubbard family strikes when Horace's money is stolen and invested without his knowing. Instead of growing angry, Horace forms a perfect reasoning for the situation, one in which all the good left in the family will benefit, and all the evil will suffer. But despite Horace's belief that he had tied his wife's hands this time, she still reigns the victor once again in the end.
Throughout the play, Hellman utilizes the development of one character in particular to help parallel the realization of the evil and greed within the family. Horace and Regina's daughter, Alexandra, is perhaps the only innocent family member left in the Hubbard clan. She innocently believes that her trip to retrieve her father from a northern hospital is simply to bring him home and never considers her mother's selfish motives. The "foxes" even consider utilizing Alexandra as a tool in their sick and twisted plans by having her marry her cousin Leo; through this, they could keep the money in the family. But as the play continues, the readers begin to realize that Alexandra will not be duped into following the horrible footprints that her family has left throughout the South. Instead, the readers realize her revolt with the final words of the play, "Are you afraid, Mama?" This quote alone foreshadows Alexandra's breaking away from the family to form a life of truth and happiness of her own. Hellman develops Alexandra in this way to show the possibility of a little sunlight in such a rainy and horrible lifestyle.
Overall, Hellman's play is a tremendous success in developing a set of characters who falsely show love to each other in order to help obtain riches and powers within each of their own lives. This brilliant show of intense familial greed illustrates how such selfish desires can lead to the breakdown of not only a family, but each member within it.