Machinal: Important quotes with page
1. “I had to get out in the air. ” (Episode 1, Line 322) Helen’s desire to get out into the air, to get a breath of air, to feel anything other than claustrophobic, runs through the play and underscores her need for freedom, thereby illustrating that Helen, at least at the play’s outset, is still possessive of some sort of humanity and connection to the natural world. This humanity and connection to nature will be drained from her over the course of the play.
2. “Hew to the line. ” (Episode 1, Line 410)Here, the stenographer is commenting on the life they have in the office, one that is the same week in and week out and adheres to a strict hierarchy, one ruled over by Jones.
3. “Love! What does that amount to? Will it clothe you? Will it feed you? Will it pay the bills? ” (Episode 2, Line 528) Helen’s mother may or may not understand love; either way, she certainly doesn’t believe in it as a tool for getting through life. The character of the mother puts the pragmatic so far ahead of the idealistic and/or romantic that she has given up on the latter concepts entirely.She encourages Helen to marry Jones because Jones is wealthy, and this matters first and foremost.
4. “I’ll tell you what you can count on! You can count on that you’ve got to eat and sleep and get up and put clothes on your back and take’em off again–that you got to get old–and that you got to die. That’s what you can count on! All the rest is in your head. ” (Episode 2, Line 537) The mother speaks as both a broken woman without dreams and as a woman who has completely bought into society’s norms.We hear her disparage love and then offer this brutallypragmatic view of life to her daughter, as she tries to convince Helen to marry a man she doesn’t love.
5. “Your skin oughtn’t to curl, ought it, when he just comes near you, ought it? ” (Episode 2, Lines 544-546) This passage illustrates Helen’s naivete in regard to matters of love. While the reader or audience will quite clearly understand that a relationship shouldn’t continue on if one person in that relationship is physically repulsed by the other, Helen has no role model or mentor in matters of love, and this question is not asked rhetorically.
6. “His hand are, his hands are fat, Ma–don? t you see, his hands are fat, and they sort of press, and they’ re fat, don? t you see? ” (Episode 2, Line 572) The young woman is disgusted by Jones’s hands, which symbolize his greed and ugliness. Of especial note in this passage is the phrase “they sort of press,” which is figuratively hidden by and around the image of the hands themselves. Here, we see how truly battered Helen is, along with her inability to effectively communicate the abuse she’s sufferedand is suffering.
7. “I’ve pulled myself up by my own bootstraps, and that’s what you’ve got to do! Will power! That? s what conquers all. Look at me. Now you? ve got to brace up […] Having a baby’s […] perfectly natural. ” (Episode 4, Line 820) After Helen has the child she didn’t want to have, she can scarcely face her life. Jones doesn’t understand in any way what she is going through. His words are meaningless cliches and dismiss her misery and her bondage as groundless.
8. “I decide what we better and better not here, nurse. ” (Episode 4, Line 923) The doctor’s words here put the nurse in her place and emphasize his power and her weakness.Women as second-class citizens is a theme that is a part of every episode of the play, and here, in Episode 4, we are perhaps offered patriarchy in a hospital, a setting where we might not expect it.
9. “I? ll not submit any more, I? ll not submit, I? ll not submit. ” (Episode 4, Line 940) This line starts Helen’s supposed path toward her freedom. She is done submitting to the pressures of society, her marriage, her child, and her husband. Notable is the repetition, as though Helen is trying to convince herself of the truth of her statement and needs to say she won’t submit again and again, in order to believe it.
10.“I want to keep moving. ” (Episode 5, Line 1115) In the bar, Helen is eager to begin her breakaway, though she might not be fully aware of this quite yet. Her restlessness indicates that she can no longer submit to the bonds of society. Her lover has indicated that in Mexico—that is, a place Helen has never been to, and never will—one can be free. However, it’s only the man who has access to this freedom, and not Helen herself. Indeed, Helen will be unable to keep moving, though her male lover will return to this supposed land of freedom and then, from that realm, aid in providing evidence that condemns Helen to death.
11. “She? s very fastidious. ” (Episode 5, Line 1300) The telephone girl says this about Helen. That she considers Helen fastidious suggests that the telephone girl would have been happy with Jones and his money, and that she views Helen’s marriage to Jones as a union based in pragmatism. Instead, Helen is simply not afforded any chance in the matter.
12. “[I did it] to get free. ” (Episode 5, Line 1378) When the man tells Helen why he murdered the men in Mexico, it opens her eyes to possibilities for herself. She longs for freedom and believes that murder will set her free.
13. “You got mighty pretty hands, honey.” (Episode 6, Line 1531) This line is said by Helen’s lover and is an echo of what Jones, Helen’s husband, says about Helen’s hands. The echo symbolizes societal patriarchy and that, in the end, Helen’s lover is more similar than different to Jones. Further, the statement objectifies Helen by having both her husband and her lover notice only a part of Helen, and not her whole being.
14. “There must be something that looks out for you and brings you your happiness, at last—look at us! How did we both happen to go to that place today if there wasn’t something? ” (Episode 6, Line 1684)Helen’s desire to break from social norms and be free is buttressed by her romantic, magical notions of love and fate. Helen’s lack of even knowing how to properly be free—she understands the concept or feeling, but not how to put this concept or feeling into action—will lead her to believe that the only way to do so is through murder.
15. “Geez honey, all women look like angels to me. ” (Episode 6, Line 1592) This comment by Helen’s lover further objectifies Helen (she is not allowed to be an actual human being) and also foreshadows what will become of Helen after she commits murder and is put to death.Further, the fact that the lover aligns Helen with Christian imagery reinforces the theological as innately patriarchal.
16. “I never knew anything like this way! I never knew I could feel like this! So, so purified. ” (Episode 6, Line 1640) Helen believes she is free when she is with the lover. To her, freedom equates with purity because she is being herself, without phony strictures. Helen is able to delude herself through her romantic ideas, which, when actualized, lead only to her committing murder, even if this murder is carried out as a result of cumulative trauma.
17. “You?re one of the purest women that ever lived. ” (Episode 7, Line 1670) Jones tells Helen she is pure, which she denies, even though she said earlier that she feels purified when she is with her lover. Here, Treadwell makes even the notion of purity subjective, and open to interpretation. When Jones calls Helen pure, he thinks of her as innocent, a child. Helen, when she feels pure,feels free.
18. “? And what is deathJust–no breath. ” (Episode 7, Lines 1688-89) This exchange between Helen and Jones makes even more obvious the gulf in connection and societal place between the two.For Helen,‘death’ is living with Jones; throughout the play, Helen feels claustrophobic, and says early on she needs to get outside, to get air. Jones doesn’t even know what death is, due to his privileged role in society. Meanwhile, Helen dies a figurative death each day of their marriage.
19. “ Where do you live Prison. ” (Episode 8, Line 1722) When the judge asks her for her address and Helen answers prison, her response is both literal and metaphorical. 20. “I did it! I did it! I did it! ” (Episode 8, Line 1745) Helen says these lines upon hearing the statement from her lover, in which he betrays Helen.This prompts her confession. While Helen is able to finally own her actions, and, thus, her life, the irony in this ownership is that her actions condemn her to death.
21. “? Why didn? t you divorce him Oh I couldn? t do that! I couldn? t hurt him like that. ” (Episode 8, Lines 1767-69) Helen’s response here (the second part of the passage) is a good example of Helen suffering from Battered woman syndrome. While Helen suffers terrible psychological abuse at the hands of Jones, the notion of divorce—of using legal means to leave him—would be, Helen believes, too painful for Jones to endure.
Helen’s abuse at the hands of Jones disallows for Helen to think rationally, and, instead, her thinking becomes binary: stay with Jones forever, or kill him.
22. “I understand him. He is condemned. I understand him. ” (Episode 9, Line1795) Helen connects with the black singer in that he, like her, has beendisenfranchised and marginalized by a society controlled by white males. This is in contrast to Helen’s disconnection with the priest, a white male who personifies Christianity, that institution that at one point ruled over western society more than any other.
23.“I sought something, I was always seeking something. ” (Episode 9,Line 1713) While the priest speaks in cliches, Helen speaks her truth with sincerity and self-awareness, further illustrating the dichotomy of language between the patriarchal and the female oppressed.
24. “When I did what I did, I was free. Free and not afraid. ” (Episode 9, Line 1722) When Helen murdersJones, her agency momentarily affords her a level of freedom she has never before experienced. However, this act ironically leads her into the bureaucratic bowels of society: the court system and prison.Her last days are arguably her least free of all.
25. “Somebody! Somebod—” (Episode 9, Line 1776) These are Helen’s final words. Here, Helen seeks the person who will know her whole self and somehow aid her. There is no mention of who, or what, this entity might be: Helen does not call out to any god, or to her mother, or to her lover. In the world Treadwell creates, a woman cannot even know the name of her savior. Further, Helen’s own cries for help are cut off by the machine that ends her life, a device symbolic of patriarchal control and power.