Machinal is a strong reverberation of its cultural context, doing it an interesting and reviewing piece of theater. It touches on the lifting issues of the clip, which would travel onto have an huge impact on today ‘s popular civilization. This makes Machinal both relevant and timely for a modern audience, without befoging Treadwell ‘s original purposes and positions, through her usage of expressionism.
Treadwell was one of the first few playwrights that brought this vague genre to the Broadway, in the late 20s. The purpose of the expressionist motion, which was shared by Treadwell, was to retroflex the new and regenerated spirit of American civilization. Treadwell uses the character of the immature Woman as a vehicle for this position.
Though Treadwell ne’er achieved the same famed success and acknowledgment of many of her male co-workers, today she is considered one of the most complete authors and playwrights of the early 20th century. Machinal is considered the best and most successful of her plants and first opened on Broadway in 1928. In a South Atlantic reappraisal, ( Weiss 2006 ) states that Treadwell has “ dedicated her literary calling to researching the lives and motivations of lonely and at bay persons ” .
In spring 1927, Treadwell attended the ill-famed test of Ruth Synder and her lover, Judd Gray, although, Treadwell did non officially cover the test as a newsman, the clip she spent in the courtroom served as the accelerator for Machinal. Synder seemed like a harmless homemaker and her lover was portrayed as an stupid accoutrement in her offenses. The test attracted an astonishing public involvement, with over 180 newsmans that wrote a sum of 1,500,000 words on the instance. Almost every twenty-four hours there was some new coverage about the Synder-Gray test. The media convulsion did non halt until Synder and Gray were eventually executed via an electric chair in January 1928. Synder became the first adult female to be executed in twentieth century New York State.
Many have argued that Treadwell chose to utilize expressionistic techniques in an effort to concentrate entirely on the subject of one adult female ‘s imprisonment in an apathetic matrimony. By utilizing expressionism, Treadwell distances Machinal from the melodramatic instance on which it is based on.
Treadwell ‘s character of the immature adult female is the unprecedented incarnation of the 1920s new adult female. This new type of adult female was non devoted to societal service, in comparing to the progressive coevalss, ensuing with a adult female more in melody with the capitalistic spirit of the epoch.
The first episode takes topographic point within the George H. Jones Company office. The Young adult female is late for work and scolded by her colleagues. Treadwell writes Helen as a unnerved adult female, who is clearly crushed by society – a feeling likely expressed by the “ old ” adult female. She is frequently late as she can non stand the smothering crowds of the metro, this serves as a metaphor for how Helen feels about society in general. “ Daunted by urban industrialization, represented here by deafening machine noises, train whistlings and welding concentrating sounds. ” ( Dolan 1992 ) . Helen wants nil more put to be free of her prison of a occupation, but alternatively is forced into a indurate matrimony with an unattractive, unsympathetic adult male.
Unlike the “ old ” adult female, the “ new ” adult female was eager to vie and hankering to happen personal fulfillment. You could reason the new adult female, was now selfish. The immature adult female wants personal fulfillment, whereas, her mother clings to the old position of adult females. Here Treadwell clearly expresses the huge difference between the Helen and her female parent ‘s coevals and their personal positions of adult females.
What replaced the moralising piety of the matriarchate was an irreverent “ classless popular and aggregate civilization ” which was steeped in the ethos of “ awful honestness ” as Raymond Chandler puts it. Douglas interprets the desire to deprive away the delusory visual aspects of modern life and glimpse the sometimes unpleasant implicit in worlds ( Glenn 1997 ) . This is what Treadwell does with the Husband and the Young Women. On the surface it looks like the perfect chance for a matrimony, he ‘s a successful concern adult male and she ‘s a adult female destined for maternity, with no existent hereafter, nevertheless, below the surface a hideous slaying takes topographic point.
“ New ” adult females besides began venturing claim to their ain organic structures, taking portion in a sexual release. We see this in Machinal where the immature adult female does n’t let her hubby to be excessively intimate with her, but merrily has an illicit love matter with a alien – she has control of her organic structure! Many of the thoughts of this epoch, and those Treadwell expands upon in her drama, have fuelled the rapid alteration in sexual idea. Nevertheless, these thoughts were already drifting about rational New York circles prior to the First World War, in the Hagiographas of Sigmund Freud, Havelock Ellis and Ellen Key. Here, minds expressed sex as being cardinal to the human experience, underscoring that adult females are besides sexual existences with human urges and desires, merely like their male opposite numbers. Restraining these urges would be suicidal.
By the 1920s these thoughts thought flooded the mainstream media. Treadwell puts focal point on this once more through the immature adult female ( the expressionistic vehicle ) , as the lone manner she finds freedom is through an illicit love matter. Machinal reflects a civilization traveling closer and closer to being more secular and go forthing behind scriptural poetries such as “ The adult females should maintain silent in the churches. For they are non permitted to talk, but should be in entry, as the Law besides says. ”
Christianity necessarily plays a really of import function in the last episode of Machinal. The immature adult female ‘s effort of objectification eventually explodes into slaying. Treadwell represents her concluding suppression at the custodies of the church and the tribunal. The ultimate justness of God, where the priest continually says: “ Father forgive her, Christ forgive her ” . Treadwell is perchance saying how the immature adult female is now beyond the aid of any earthly justness.
She is eventually secluded behind bars and continues to be determined to defy any regulating authorization. The executioner shears a cartridge holder off her hair, the concluding invasion of her bodily privateness, this suggests that the immature adult female has eventually been sterilized and is wholly under the jurisprudence.
One of Treadwell ‘s chief messages is that all work forces are born free, whereas adult females are non. However, this is non what the bible Teachs, the bible Teachs that the full human race are bound by wickedness, nevertheless, it was adult female who sinned foremost and as a penalty she was made to subject to the authorization of adult male and let her hubby to govern over her. This is something that would hold been profoundly rooted in the positions of the people from the 1920s and Treadwell is seeking to show, that adult females do non hold certain freedoms, like work forces do. Dolan states that “ Treadwell ‘s text ironizes the broad humanist impression that all me are born free ” ( Dolan 1992 ) .
From farther illation we besides notice that no 1 in the drama is given a clear individuality. The fact that we do n’t happen out what the immature adult female ‘s ( Helen ) name is until subsequently episodes reveals that this is non of import to character development. Many of the characters are defined strictly by their business or function in life ( in the instance of the Mother ) “ this device elucidates the thought that the immature adult female ‘s battles can be the predicament of any adult female ” .
Machinal can besides be read as a feminist version of Elmer Rice ‘s 1923 drama The Adding Machine, as both dramas use expressionistic techniques and effort to contextualize an privy act of slaying. “ To make so is to worry the abstract manner of Expressionism itself. Writing a type of drama meant to foreground the catholicity of a topic ‘s experience ; Treadwell begins by proposing her topic ‘s specificity – as a adult female, and as a adult female based on one single adult female. ” ( Strand 1992 )
The secret plan of Machinal might portray Helen Jones as the scoundrel ; her function is rather the antonym. Treadwell clearly intender her to be a tragic heroine, the drama is written with het choler. Treadwell suggests adult females are doomed to roll everlastingly in the dead barren of male dominated society, under complete authorization. Since this is an expressionistic piece, its purpose is to convey emotion and feeling, non pragmatism, which would do Helen the scoundrel. Helen does non slay her hubby because she is evil ; she does it because she has no other option.
In decision, Machinal is so a strong representation and contemplation of the cultural context of the clip, utilizing expressionism as a manner for the audience to sympathize and sympathize with the characters, instead than sing them as societal merchandises of the 1920s, conveying the characters into the twenty-first century.