Drama Notes

Drama Notes - Drama Notes Machinal Expressionism is the...

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Machinal Expressionism is the leading theme in Machinal . Expressionism is a theory in art, drama, or writing that seeks to depict the prejudiced one-sided emotions and responses that objects and events arouse in the artist, dramatist or writer . Before exploring expressionism in Machinal , the term "subjective" must first be understood. To depict a subjective emotion or response, Treadwell would have to perfectly convey her personal feeling. Philosophically, it is impossible to convey a subjective emotion or response because it is inherent to each individual; it is a matter of personal taste. Hence, Treadwell cannot convey her subjective feeling to anyone because once someone else experiences her attempt to convey her emotion or response, it necessarily becomes the other person's subjective interpretation of her emotion or response. This is a difficult concept to grasp, but it is crucial to understanding expressionism. Although the plot of Machinal would seem to make Helen Jones a villain, her role is quite the contrary. She is clearly intended to be a tragic heroine. The play is written with heated anger. The play's title means "automatic" or "mechanical" in French. Sophie Treadwell wrote the play based loosely on the murder trial of Ruth Snyder and her lover, Judd Gray, who together murdered Snyder's husband. Convicted of murdering her husband, Snyder later received the electric chair. Out of this event came the powerful, demanding drama, Machinal . Helen Jones and all other women are doomed to wander the dead wasteland of a male- dominated society. Remember, this is an expressionistic play and its intent is to convey emotion and feeling, not realism. Hence, to read this play from the point of view of realism is to, of course, damn Helen to death by the electric chair and label her a villain. However, through the eyes of expressionism, Helen becomes a heroine, struggling against male oppression for all of womankind. Helen does not murder her husband because she is evil; she is left with no other choice. At the point of the murder it appears that it may be necessary for certain wives in certain circumstances to murder their husbands. With her last, failed attempt to free her. .... The Snyder-Gray Murder Trial During the spring of 1927, Treadwell attended the notorious trial of Ruth Snyder and her lover, Judd Gray. Although she did not officially cover the trial as a reporter, her time spent in the courtroom served as the catalyst for Machinal . Snyder was a seemingly harmless housewife from Long Island, and her lover was portrayed as a dim-witted accomplice. Most notably, the trial attracted an amazing public interest and was fueled by hundreds of reporters that where assigned to cover the trial. Every day there was something new about the Snyder-Gray trial in the newspapers. The
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This note was uploaded on 03/19/2008 for the course DRAMA 115 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '08 term at UNC.

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Drama Notes - Drama Notes Machinal Expressionism is the...

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