September 14, 2005

Machinal (Finish)

Treadwell, Machinal (Finish) -- Drama as Literature (EL 250)

Machinal – Finish

HUSBAND: The property’s mine. I’ll put a first mortgage. I’ll put a second mortgage and the property’s mine. Happy?
YOUNGWOMAN: (by rote). Happy.
HUSBAND: (going to her). The property’s mine! It’s not all that’s mine! (Pinching her cheek – happy and playful) I got a first mortgage on her – I got a second mortgage on her – and she’s mine.
YOUNGWOMAN: (pulls away swiftly)
HUSBAND: What’s the matter?
YOUNGWOMAN: Nothing – what?
HUSBAND: You flinched when I touched you.

The husband indicates that he just purchased a property. He calls the property ‘her,’ and jokes that the property is not the only thing that belongs to him. He implies that his wife, the young woman, also belongs to him. This certain seeming need for ownership illustrates the dichotomy between the pair: the husband views himself as the owner, the possessor of not only things, but of the physical entity that is his wife. However, the young woman, who flinches when her husband touches her, recognizes that her husband gravitates towards this idea of ownership and she wants to break from it. She is not someone to be owned – she longs to be her own person, or at least, to be unbothered by her husband’s long to possess her.

Her disgust, or disturbance, is evident to her husband when she replies in rote, that she is ‘happy,’ when indeed, she is anything but glad. Her husband acts as though that money is what is needed to own anything and anyone. He repeats the words first and second mortgage for times within two lines of his delivery; this repetition elucidates his view point: money makes him the owner, money makes him own her. However, the young woman seems disturbed by his casual attitude about buying love and finds it so distasteful, she is physical upset. This scene is critical to the events to follow.

Posted by KatieAikins at September 14, 2005 3:36 PM

The headlines he reads off are about money as well:

"HUSBAND. Record production."

"HUSBAND. Sale hits million -"

"HUSBAND. Market trend steady -"

"HUSBAND. Owns a life interest -"

Whereas, her's are all about freedom (woman leaves all for love, young wife disappears, prisoners escape).

Posted by: Kayla Sawyer at September 14, 2005 10:04 PM

Kayla, Great observation - this play is such a close examination of gender roles. Why do you think he is so concerned with money? Male tradition?

Posted by: Katie Aikins at September 15, 2005 12:13 AM

However preoccupied with money her husband may be, I'm still struck by the thought that the young woman married for money and safety. Money is not everything, but it does offer protection and security throughout life.

Posted by: Katie Lambert at September 15, 2005 11:41 AM


You're right: money is a security blanket for the future.

See you in class!


Posted by: Katie Aikins at September 15, 2005 4:12 PM

He's probably concerned with money and the market because he's the head of a large business. If he was your average worker he probably wouldn't be reading up on it.

Posted by: Kayla Sawyer at September 15, 2005 7:26 PM