Money: Practical, Love: Impractical
"Love! -what does that amount to! Will it clothe you? Will it feed you? Will it pay the bills?"
Machinal (Mother), page 17
Money seems to make the world go round, doesn't it? Well of course it does! (according to mother) The young woman (Helen) is in quite a bit of a dilemma: she is faced with marrying someone that she does not love and her mother is putting the idea of love down. Why would her mother be so cold as to scorn love?
The obvious reason is stated right within the quote. Love is not as practical as a means of currency. Money is practical and can provide for the human necessities and desires. Love, on the other hand, merely is an emotion that is too much of a commodity to worry about. But why is that so? I have only read about half of the play thus far, but it is interesting to speculate about love.
Almost immediately following the above quote, the young woman asks her mother if she had loved her husband. The mother is confused at this question. Perhaps she never truly loved her husband, but had only married him in order to have a means of living. Maybe it goes deeper than that. What if she had experienced the pain of a broken heart, perhaps displaying love for her husband but not receiving any in return? Either way, she holds love as an impractical idea. It cannot do the work of the world for her, and hence, the young woman must marry in order to survive. Love is a commodity that is too expensive, too unpredictable, and too unreasonable to consider.
Whatever reason(s) or lack thereof that the mother had for shunning love, one thing is certain: the young woman is lost without some deeper connection.