The Answer 3-act, 6-character play set in an apartment in New York City. The subject matter of the play is war and domestic matters and several of the characters in the play represent military personnel  The Eye of the Beholder one-act, previously titled Mrs. Occupations listed for this character play include: journalist, miner, servant, homemaker, criminal, laborer, and musician. The story is loosely based on the murder trial of Ruth Snyder.
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When the curtain lifts and the lights go on, the workers murmur to themselves as they go about their business. They remark that this is the third time that week that Helen has been delayed. When she finally appears, Helen tells them she had to get off the subway because she felt trapped. Her colleagues ignore her troubles, moving on to tell her that the boss, George H. Jones, has been looking for her.
When Helen goes into Mr. Moments later, Helen returns and sits still in front of her typewriter. As they chatter, the machines click and rattle and Helen thinks aloud to herself, considering Mr. Jones—George H. Jones and Company—Mrs. George H. In Episode Two, Helen sits in a kitchen with her mother. The two women argue about the meal, and Helen tells her mother that George wants to marry her. At first, her mother is skeptical, but once she learns George is wealthy, she encourages Helen to move forward with the idea.
Will it clothe you? Will it feed you? Will it pay the bills? At the end of the scene, she decides to marry George, and the lights go off and faint jazz plays into Episode Three. In Episode Three, George and Helen enter a hotel room on their honeymoon. While George is happy and boisterous, Helen is skittish, quiet, and hesitant to embrace her new husband.
George urges her to relax, asking why she looks so scared. As she squirms, he urges her to calm down. She tells George she misses her mother, which confuses him, since she told him earlier that she was glad to spend time away from the old woman.
In Episode Four, Helen lies in a maternity ward. Helen shakes her head and the nurse chastises her. The nurse asks if Helen needs anything, and Helen points outside, where construction is noisily underway, but the nurse can do nothing to stop the raucous sounds. As he goes on, Helen starts choking and pointing at the door. The doctor then enters, insists that she try breastfeeding, and demands that she start eating solid food. Episode Five opens in a speakeasy with three tables.
At one of the tables, two men sit waiting for Helen and the telephone girl, who are late. One the men, Mr. Smith, is having an affair and is depending on his friend, Mr.
Roe, to preoccupy Helen so that he can quickly spend some private time with the telephone girl before rushing home to his wife. Finally, Helen and the telephone girl arrive. Helen quickly takes a liking to Mr. Roe, who flirts with her until Mr. Smith and the telephone girl leave to have sex. Roe tells Helen that he was once captured in Mexico by bandits, and that he filled a bottle with stones and clubbed the men to death in order to escape.
Not long afterward, they go to Mr. Roe tells her about Mexico, talking about the freedom one feels south of United States. Before leaving, she sees a flower on the windowsill and asks Mr.
Roe who gave it to him. He tells her he bought it himself because it reminded him of San Francisco, and the lovers talk about riding free in the mountains around the Bay Area. They kiss, and Helen asks if she can take the flower with her. Roe says. When she departs, the music in the street plays until abruptly cutting off at the opening of Episode Seven. Episode Seven finds Helen and George in the sitting room of their house reading separate newspapers. The phone rings, and George learns that one of his business deals has gone through.
Upon hanging up, he boasts about the success and goes over to Helen, who flinches when he touches her. In Episode Eight, Helen is in court. Her attorney, the Lawyer for Defense, questions her while the jury, judge, and reporters listen. One of them, she says, clubbed George over the head with a bottle before she could do anything to stop it. Having concluded, the Lawyer for Defense takes his seat, and the Lawyer for Prosecution takes the floor. He shows her the broken bottle used to kill George, saying that he thinks its strange the glass bears no finger prints.
Jones—are you not? The lawyer refutes this, presenting as evidence a pair of gloves found in her home on the fateful night. As he brings out other damning pieces of evidence, he shows the jury a bowl he claims Helen brought home a year ago that spring. He says the bowl contained a water lily, but Helen denies this. Finally, the lawyer produces an affidavit from Mr. Roe saying that he gave her the water lily and that she has visited his apartment nearly everyday since their first encounter.
I did it! In the ninth episode, Helen is behind bars listening to a priest pray for her. Eventually, two barbers enter the cell to shave her hair to make sure the electric chair has clean points of contact on her head. I will not be submitted!
Oh my God am I never to be let alone! Always to have to submit—to submit! Not now! Cite This Page Lannamann, Taylor. Lannamann, Taylor. Retrieved March 10, Copy to Clipboard.
Marriage and Gender Inequality Themes and Colors LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Machinal, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work. Marriage and Gender Inequality Machinal was written for the stage in the early 20th century, a time when patriarchal norms dictated the dynamics of romantic relationships. In this male-focused environment, women were expected to defer to their husbands, sacrificing their own individuality and agency in order to maintain respectable marriages. Instead of communicating clearly and listening to what other people have to say, they hold forth with their own monologues and ideas, showing themselves incapable of engaging in the give-and-take of successful conversation. Under these fraught circumstances, Helen finds herself hopelessly estranged from her husband, who never opens himself up to the possibility that their marriage has made her utterly miserable—instead… The Mechanical World Machinal is a play inundated by machines. Business, home, marriage, having a child, seeking pleasure—all are difficult… read full theme analysis Get the entire Machinal LitChart as a printable PDF. Fragmentation and Expressionism Machinal is an example of Expressionist theater, a style of performance that aligns itself with the modernist artistic concept of Expressionism, which sought to represent not tangible, external reality, but rather the inner and subjective world of emotions and personal experience.
Machinal: how an execution gripped America and sparked a Broadway sensation