Sophie Treadwell’S Machinal Is A Strangely Riveting Play

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Sophie Treadwell’s Machinal is a strangely riveting play so filled with unlikable characters that it makes one want to scream and throttle whichever character is closest at hand, without prejudice as to which persona it might be, as they are all equally detestable in their own way. Unfortunately, the infuriating characters are exactly what make the play so fascinating. Each of the characters in the play, originally intended to display that life is an inescapable machine, exhibit many disturbing psychological qualities, and the main character suffers a slew of near textbook psychological misfortune. Whether Sophie Treadwell created her play with this facet intentionally or not is unknown, but the examples are so perfect it is difficult to …show more content…

From this, one can infer that Helen would have also been more prone to abuse, and other effects of low self-esteem. Some of the narcissistic characteristics Helen’s mother exhibits are her utter disregard and lack of respect for everything Helen says and the choices she makes, speaking over her, giving Helen her attention only once it applies directly to her “Vice president! His income must be– does he know you’ve got a mother to support?” (Treadwell 17), and an immediate overreaction to any sort of criticism. Many children with narcissistic parents may have grown up in both neglectful and verbally abusive situations, but Helen’s situation would have been compounded beyond that as she appears to have grown-up with only her mother as a parental figure. Helen’s father was revealed in the second act as, seemingly, long dead. The Second character who exhibits the most pressing issue is Helen’s husband, Mr. J, who proves to be a sexual predator. Helen’s physical repulsion, such as when the telephone girl asks her “Why’d you flinch, kid?” (Treadwell 10), and her reactions to Mr. J touching her should have been plenty of notice for him to stop. In the beginning, Mr. J has both status and rank over Helen as her boss, which puts their implied romantic relationship on shaky and inappropriate grounds because of Mr. J’s power over her. That he constantly touches her, treats her differently, and makes her feel

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