Machinal is a play by Sophie Treadwell, an American journalist, and playwright. It was first presented in 1931. It takes on an expressionism genre. It is the story of a woman living with her mother who ends up killing her husband and gets convicted for it.
An Overview of the Plot
It contains nine episodes. First, the reader is introduced to the office where the machines and people work. The characters introduce their jobs by performing actions related to them. The people then converge to discuss Helen, who is the protagonist. They believe that she will marry their boss. The boss is named Jones and is the only other character with a name. Helen arrives late to work looking unaware and dreamy. She does not want to go to her boss` office and instead takes a seat and keeps dreaming.
In the next few episodes, Helen’s life is controlled by several forces, including a mother who keeps nagging her to find a suitor to marry her so she can fit in. Helen wants to remain free, but her mother will not hear any of this.
When Helen marries Jones, time shifts to their honeymoon, and it is terrible for Hellen. Jones does not understand what is wrong with his wife and why Helen is constantly pulling away from him. She keeps asking for some fresh air. The scenes shift, and Helen is having a baby, a girl. Helen is seen in bed, and she is not happy that she is having a girl. Her husband keeps telling her that it is normal to have a baby, and Helen responds with a gag.
When Helen is alone, she constantly feels she has submitted enough and has thoughts about drowning puppies. We then see her in a bar. She says that she desires to keep moving. At her table is a man who tells her that to get his freedom, he had to kill a man in Mexico. We realize that Helen is involved with another man.
Talking to her husband is difficult. Jones is focused on properties and making even more money until it is time to sleep. The play hints at a murder waiting to happen.
In court, Helen confesses to killing her husband. She says that she did it so that she could be free. She is nagged even on her execution day. She had been sentenced to die by electric chair. The priest keeps praying for her, even when she does not want it. Her mother arrives at the prison. Helen does not want to see her, and she is taken to be executed. Before it is done, she yells “Somebody.”