Machinal

by

Sophie Treadwell

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Machinal: Episode 3: Honeymoon Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Faint jazz plays as the lights turn on for Episode Three, showing George and Helen entering a hotel room on their honeymoon. George is in high spirits, urging Helen to take off her hat and get comfortable. He brags to her about how expensive the room is, remarking upon the hotel’s luxuriousness. Helen, for her part, remains unimpressed and rather quiet, saying that she thought their room would have a view of the ocean. “I was counting on seeing it!” she says. In response, George encourages her to lighten up, saying, “You look like you’re scared,” and, “Nothing to be scared of. You’re with your husband, you know.” 
When George says, “Nothing to be scared of. You’re with your husband, you know,” he emphasizes the official nature of their new relationship, as if instructing her how to feel around him. His logic takes for granted that marriage automatically brings closeness. Unfortunately, he doesn’t take into account the fact that his new title of “husband” means nothing when it comes to how Helen actually feels about him. Regardless, he draws upon the institution of marriage, using it as a tool of sorts to get Helen to behave the way he wants.
Themes
Marriage and Gender Inequality Theme Icon
Communication Theme Icon
George takes Helen in his lap and kisses her neck while placing his hand on her knee. “Say—stay there!” he says. “What you moving for?—You know—you got to learn to relax, little girl.” After only a few minutes in his lap, she gets up. George asks if she wants help getting out of her “heavy” clothes. When she refuses, he says, “I’m your husband, you know.” She then retreats into the bathroom to change—much to George’s disappointment—and when she re-emerges, she’s crying. “I want my mother!” she says. “I thought you were glad to get away from her,” George points out, but she tells him that she wants her now; “I want somebody,” she says. George reminds her that she has him, a fact that does little to calm her. “Somebody—somebody—” she says, and the lights go out as George tells her “there’s nothing to cry about.”
Once again, George tries to use his new title of “husband” to his benefit, attempting to convince Helen to get naked in front of him simply because they’re married, as if this changes the fact that they still hardly know one another. This clearly unnerves Helen, who suddenly feels as if she needs “somebody,” perhaps to protect her from this man who so repulses her. Of course, there’s almost no chance George can understand this emotion, since he himself is so deeply entrenched in his own idea that he and Helen are on a blissful honeymoon. As such, he proves himself incapable of shifting his perspective in a way that would allow him to empathize with his new wife.
Themes
Marriage and Gender Inequality Theme Icon
Communication Theme Icon
The Mechanical World Theme Icon
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