February 24, 2005

Machinal

I was thoroughly impressed at how well this play was written... all the while knowing from the beginning the plot tells "the story of a woman who murders her husband -- an ordinary young woman, any woman."

As a young woman and feminist, I could not help but feel sympathy for the Helen. It was clear to me that she felt she had to conform to society by getting married to her boss, of whom she had no feelings for, and quite honestly, a fear and feeling of disgust towards him. Helen's mother REALLY upset me in Episode 2. Her mother was very uninterested in her daughter's happiness. I guess because during the time she grew up it was the same way, if not worse. Women were oppressed and expected to marry, just to endure the role as housewife and mother.

Helen seemed different... she did have ambition and she searched for happiness. She wanted to learn the truth. She began to ask about her parents relationship... if her mother loved her husband (Helen's dad). And her response to this is: "I suppose I did - I don't know - I've forgotten - what difference does it make - now?" (p. 17) !!!!

That really angers and saddens me. As a woman who has fairly equal rights to men today, I cannot image how life was for these women. Women have come a LONG WAY throughout history, but I feel are still underestimated and appreciated. I may have never been able to take the injustice of Helen's time. I would be a rebel and not get married to someone just for the sake of becoming married. Today I saw a bumper sticker on a car in the Seton Hill parking lot that read, "A woman without a man is as useless as a fish without a bicycle." I couldn't help but laugh and be happy for things like that. Thank goodness we live in a time and country where women are able to have opinions, not to mention display it on their car. Geez, I'm lucky to have a driver's license.

Regardless... back to the story! :) I must say that Helen's husband was very stupid or uninformed about her feelings... she constantly complained or ignored him... she did not seem to show him affection, when she did, she seemed scared. She continually says she would like to go away - alone - without him.

I also question this "First Man" and Helen's relationship. He suggests that he has been with many women or atleast compliments them and finds them heavenly... but Helen is so soon to fall in love and want to run away with him. I am not doubting they shared something special, but she seems to fall in love the moment he compliments and sweet talks her. He represents a lot of men I find today. Definitely a sweet talker... but he does draw a line and simply answer questions in a straight forward manner at several times during the conversation.

Maybe I am sick for saying this, but I thought it was kinda sweet how she killed her husband... she used his story of how he freed himself. :)
I wish Helen could find her freedom. I agree that the emptiness felt inside so often is a missing void from within. This must be filled, not by another person, but by yourself. You need to love yourself first and be happy with who you are.

I know that in my own life I have felt incredible loneliness and an emptiness from within. I have been struggling for years with major depression and hit rock bottom MANY times. But my faith in God and prayer kept me going. Support from good friends and family also gives a lot of comfort and reassurance. This has really changed my life, but I am still on my religious journey and finding who I am. Helen is just another human being trying to find her place in the world... she is young and unwed and pressured into becoming married. She is a "good girl" and says "I do," has a child, and feels empty through a six year (?) marriage with someone she feels nothing for. I see something missing in her relationship with her mother as well. Maybe it could be because her mother never really loved her husband so she didn't really care about the child's ultimate happiness. Helen's mother's outlook on marriage is, "Love! - what does that amount to! Will it clothe you? Will it feed you? Will it pay the bills?" (p. 17) ... "I'll tell you what you can count on! You can count that you've got to eat and sleep and get up and put clothes on your back and take 'em off again - that you got to get old - and then you got to die. That's what you can count on! All the rest is in your head!" (p. 17).

Perhaps I am wrong, but isn't all the rest what is truly important?! Finding happiness and love in life... whether you become married or not! If you choose to live a "mechanical" life filled with little or no emotion (rather: a life of complete loneliness, sadness, regret, "wishing" you'd done things differently), then life is not enjoyed. I could go on and on about this... but I will just look forward to the class discussion.

Posted by KaylaTurano at February 24, 2005 3:09 PM