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Always on the Go

"YOUNG WOMAN. Where do we go from here?
SECOND MAN. Where do we go from here! You just got here!
FIRST MAN. What's the hurry?
SECOND MAN. What's the rush?
YOUNG WOMAN. I don't know."
~page 35 in Episode 5 of Machinal by Sophie Treadwell

To me, it seemed that this short exchange summed up Helen's character (or young woman) pretty well. With the exception of while she is having the affair, it seems like she is always rushing. She even says herself on a few occasions that she feels she needs to keep moving. She also indicates that she feels trapped--that's why she killed her husband, after all. In the above excerpt, it shows not only her restless attitude of feeling like she needs to move on to something or somewhere else ("Where do we go from here?" - 35), but also the fact that she doesn't fully understand this need herself ("SECOND MAN. What's the rush? YOUNG WOMAN. I don't know." - 35). She is a very conflicted character, and it shows here.


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Comments (3)

Alyssa Sanow:

I would agree that Treadwell's female character seems very confused. It's almost as if she's waiting for something, some opportunity, but she's not sure what exactly it is. This is further evidenced by her soliloquies both when she is trying to decide whether or not she should marry her future husband and during her post-pregnancy stay in the hospital. Her speeches, though long, are disjointed and and choppy as if she cannot produce a complete thought because she is so distracted. “- I want to rest – no rest – earn – got to earn – married – earn – no – yes – earn – all girls – most girls – ma – pa – ma – all women – most women – I can’t – must – maybe…” (Treadwell 12).

Carlos Peredo:

It certainly seems to me that she is one of the most indecisive characters that I've ever read. She had trouble committing to any decision, even the little ones such as what drink to have. She rarely springs sentences together in anything other than a complex form. In fact, she barely ever has lines longer than a few words and when she does, she stutters over them and goes back and forth (As Alyssa has pointed out.)

Treadwell chooses to portray a feeble and weak woman unable to make decisions of speak with confidence as a way of showing us how bad things appear to be for women in that society. Of this, she does a fabulous job.

Juli Banda:

I agree, throughout the whole play Helen always seems like she has to be constantly moving and on the go, she can't just stay still. As Carlos stated, she really is one of the most indecisive character I've read as well. Treadwell does a god job of portraying a confused young woman, and there are many reasons why she could be confused. She's confused about marriage, her job, and her mother is always nagging her. Also, like Alyssa pointed out, her speeches are long and choppy as if she doesn't know exactly how to get her point across or that she doesn't know exactly what she's thinking or wants to say.

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