The Women
Clare Boothe Luce
Author Bio
Mary Haines- (Mrs. Stephen Haines) is the central protagonist of The Women.
She has been married for twelve years; "living in a fool's paradise.”
Crystal Allen- Young shop-girl, working at the perfume counter of Saks Fifth
Avenue. She improves socioeconomic status through being the mistress, then
wife, of a wealthy man, Stephen Haines. A "terrible man-trap."
Sylvia Fowler- (Mrs. Howard Fowler), aged thirty-four, is one of the married
women in Mary's social circle. Both she and her hubby have affairs; she finds
out Miriam is her hubby’s mistress. Conflict creator.
The Countess De Lage- A wealthy middle-aged woman, is a member of Mary's
social circle. The countess has been divorced four times. She marries Buck
Winston who cheats with Crystal.
Miriam Aarons- “The second Mrs. Fowler.” A twenty-eight-year old stage actress
part of Mary's social circle. Miriam is having an affair with Howard Fowler,
Sylvia's husband.
Peggy Day- (Mrs. John Day), age twenty-five, is the youngest member of Mary's
social circle. Peggy is a more sympathetic character than most of Mary's friends
Nancy Blake- “5 star chic.” 35 and the only woman in Mary's social circle who
has never been married. Nancy is a financially independent woman who
supports herself as a novelist.
Courtesy of and
Plot Points
•The Women is set in the world of high society wives in New York City during
the height of the Great Depression. Mary Haines, the protagonist, learns from a
gossipy manicurist that her husband, Stephen, is having an affair with a shop-girl
named Crystal. After the news of Stephen’s affair is published in a gossip
column, Mary decides to divorce him. To obtain her divorce, she travels to Reno,
Nevada, where liberal divorce laws attracted many society women wishing to
downplay any potential for scandal. While she is in Reno, Mary learns that
Stephen has married Crystal. Two years later, Mary, now living back in New
York with her children, learns that Crystal has been unfaithful to Stephen. With
the help of her friends, Mary sets out to expose Crystal’s infidelity in order to
win Stephen back.
•Although men are at the center of the lives of the women in The Women, no
male characters appear in the play, which is set in such locations as beauty
parlors, women’s clothing stores, and other predominantly female environments.
The Women addresses themes of the modern woman, marriage and divorce,
female friendship, beauty standards, gossip, and socioeconomic class.
•The Women has been criticized over the years as a work that portrays women as
shallow, conniv ing, ‘‘catty’’ creatures whose lives revolve around their efforts to
look beautiful so as to obtain and hold onto wealthy husbands. Others, however,
have regarded The Women as a feminist text that addresses lasting issues about
women’s status in society.
Courtesy of e- and
Got Problems?
She said/She said/He said what?!
• Redefining “Womanhood”
• Understanding
• Exposing Social Institutions
• Gossip(Misinformation)
• Deception(Fake
• Class
The Great Depression: In the fall of 1929, the United States economy was
devastated by a collapse of the stock market
Political measures to address the problems of the Great Depression in the
United States were dominated by the leadership of President Franklin D.
Roosevelt. Roosevelt's domestic program for addressing the Great
Depression is known as the New Deal. The crucial first few months of
Roosevelt's institution of the New Deal are known as the Hundred Days.
The Reno Divorce: Nevada had relatively liberal divorce laws, as well as very
short-term requirements for state citizenship (only six weeks, at the time),
many wealthy society women during the 1930s went to Reno in order to get
Popular Culture References: Hollywood: Mae West, Joan Crawford, Clark
Gable, and Harpo Marx. Moguls: Darryl F. Zanuck, co-founder of 20thCentury Fox, and Louis B. Mayer, VP(MGM) studios.
Courtesy of and and
Find out more
Dubofsky, Melvyn, and Stephen Burwood, eds., Women and Minorities during the
Great Depression, Garland, 1990.
Gimlin, Debra L., Body Work: Beauty and Self-image in American Culture,
University of California Press, 2001.
Wasserstein, Wendy. Uncommon Women and Others (1977) concerns five women
who meet for lunch and reminisce about events from their college years.
Rage for Fame: The Ascent of Clare Boothe Luce (1997), by Sylvia Jukes Morris,
provides a critical biography of Luce, focusing on her ambitious personality
and her various professional and political successes.
Clare Boothe Luce: A Research and Production Sourcebook (1995), by Mark Fearnow,
provides an overview of Luce's life and career, a detailed plot summary of her
major works and their critical reception, and an annotated bibliography.
Brent, Liz. “Critical Essay on The Women,” in Drama for Students, Gale,
Carlson, Susan L. "Comic Textures and Female Communities 1937 and
1977: Clare Booth and Wendy Wasserstein," in Modern Drama, Vol. 27,
December 1984, pp. 564–73.
Gates, Anita, "What Is It about The Women ?" in New York Times, June 16,
2002, Sect. 13, p. 4.
Hamilton, Joan T. “Visible Power and Invisible Men in Clare Boothe’s The
Women” in American Drama, Vol. 3, No. 1, September 1993, pp. 31-53.
Maddock, Mary, "Social Darwinism in the Powder Room: Clare Boothe's
The Women," in Journal of American Drama and Theatre, Vol. 2, No. 2,
Spring 1990, pp. 81–97.
Winn, Steven, "The Women without Their Men," in the San Francisco
Chronicle, September 25, 1992, p. C5
My words on The Women
Two that I looked at in particular are Mary Maddock’s “Social Darwinism In
The Powder Room: Clare Boothe’s The Women” and Joan Hamilton’s
“Visible Power and Invisible Men in Clare Boothe’s The Women.”
synthesis-the women.htm
What’s next?
Additional YA novels
Hot Girl-Dream Jordan
Frenemies-L. Divine
Paradise Lost-Kate Brian
Dramarama-E. Lockhart
What will I do without him?-Sharon Flake
The boyfriend list-E. Lockhart
P.S. I loathe you-Lisi Harrison
The Girls
Tucker Shaw
Girls gone Gossip
Crystal: She’s a townie, and she’s cheating with Mary’s boyfriend.
Sylvia: She’s nasty, and she’s got something up her Prada-designed
Amber: She’s a flake, she’s the barista at the hottest coffee shop in
Aspen, and she serves up gossip even hotter than Grande skim lattes.
Peggy: She’s Mary’s best friend, and she has no idea how to cope with
all these girls.
Mary: She’s beautiful, and her ski-star boyfriend is cheating on her.
A modern retelling of the classic play The Women (which featured not one male in the
cast), The Girls , by Tucker Shaw, is a quick-witted, stylish comedy about friendship, love,
and most important, gossip! An elite Aspen prep school sets the stage for jealousy and
intrigue as the lives of many girls tangle into a wickedly fun mess (in which no boys ever
appear). The narrator of the story, Peggy, tells what happens at Aspen during the first
week of the new semester. The air is full of lies, jealousy and misunderstandings and
towards the end of the book all of the girls notice who their real friends are and how
small the world really is.
Talkin’ Tucker
Courtesy of jacketflap(
and Denver Post(
The 411
Born in Maine, Tucker Shaw, who has been featured on The Today Show, is the
author of many popular books for teens, including Confessions of a Back-Up Dancer
and Flavor of the Week. He lives in Denver, Colorado, where he is a food editor for
the Denver Post. However, before getting the gig as the food editor, he was a working
writer since graduating college in 1991, living in New York and freelancing and
working on staff at a few ill-fated publications. It was in 2004 he decided to take
photos of everything he ate that year and compile it into a book, called,
appropriately, "Everything I Ate" (Chronicle Books). During the course of doing
publicity for that book, he was approached by the Denver Post to apply for the
recently-vacated Dining Critic position.
I really liked this book but one thing I missed was guys
There's lots of angst and backstabbing, and cooking too (Peggy works at a local restaurant). I
hungry the whole time I was reading this
For a book "in which no boys ever appear" it is all about boys...wasn't terribly impressed
Cute book - I would have never guessed it was written by a man!
Keep a look out
Waiting to Exhale Waiting to Exhale
All about Eve All about Eve
Why did I get married? Why did I
get married?
Why did I get married too?
The Women(2008) The
Women 2008
Living Single
Golden Girls
Sex and the City
"I'll take your man" Salt NPepa
"Meeting in the Ladies
Room" -Klymaxx
Shoes”/ “Ring the Alarm”Beyonce
Wild Women:
Stage Performance
1939 movie

The Women - Longwood University