Machinal as a Play Written in Anger.

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Machinal was written by Sophie Treadwell, a woman attempting to make her mark in a male dominated society and in a male dominated work sphere (as an author and playwright). This was in a time when it was considered a tenet of social life to accept a woman’s role was to facilitate the life of the man to whom she belongs. To reach above the kitchen shelf and attempt men’s work or to enter the men’s world was frowned upon and was punished by the social system. A woman in the wrong field or operating socially as equal to a male would either have to work under a different, male, identity or be met by severe criticism and gender based discrimination, her works largely ignored or peremptorily dismissed as inferior. The playwright draws on her experience with and bitterness against the social machine (hence the name Machinal, French for machine like) and tells the tale of an average everywoman who spends her entire, short, life seeking freedom from the role society has cast her in. Her role as defined by society is that of what the society in question considers any decent well bred young woman. She is originally a caregiver for her mother’ working at a job that makes her feel suffocated to earn enough to take care of both of them. Next she becomes a companion, decoration (he chose her for her hands) and sexual partner for her husband who “buys her” by providing for her mother and making sure she no longer needs to work at the job she hates and finally she becomes a mother caring for her daughter not because of any sense of love but because society refuses to allow her to abandon the child. These separate roles give birth to her rage pushing her to outbursts of rage and anti-social behaviour and ironically in their climax lead to a murder based on pity, not for herself but for her husband. Based on the idea that the play was based loosely on Treadwell’s experiences in a man’s world and the infamous murderess .......... it can be assumed that the emotions that Helen...
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