This is a dark playwright written by Sophie Treadwell that stabs you in the heart like an ice-cold dagger from hell itself.
It is filled to the brim with dark energy much like “Wuthering Heights;” which shocked me due to an exclusively evil and menacing cast of characters. After reading it I was amazed that something that cruel could have been brought into the world by a woman.
“Machinal” is at least a very quick read and will be completed in only a few hours; this is a clear advantage that it has over the aforementioned work above.
For those who like to fill their life with negative energy and darkness I can highly recommend “We Have Always Lived In The Castle.” (which was also authored by a woman) … or season one of the tv-show “American Horror Story,” which left me feeling hollowed out after watching it as it depicted the one rotting relationship after the other.
If you enjoy watching people arguing and treating each other horribly then you should certainly give the first season a go; if not I would highly recommend watching movies based on Jane Austin’s work such as “Pride & Prejudice” and “Sense & Sensibility.”
“Machinal,” in contrast, tells the story of a young female who rejects the machine that she’s been born into much like a body rejecting a new organ.
The other characters are perfectly happy with their “hamster-wheel” lives and appear to be at one with the machinery that they are using, revelling in their puppet-like existence and activities, going about things without much thought concerning their anchored, rooted state.
She, on the other hand, has a strained, pained relationship with her mother and doesn’t like modern-day commuting as she feels suffocated by it. She doesn’t like being an office worker, doesn’t like her husband (even though he never does anything evil towards her), and doesn’t like motherhood. She eventually self-destructs by killing her spouse finalising her true imprisonment, which is interesting considering that the murder was an attempt to achieve final liberation from a much dreaded existence.
Like a bug in the system she is eventually rejected by a machine that she was never really compatible with.
If anything the book perfectly recounts the horror of total disconnection between humans. The work therefore gives off a rather superficial and sterile vibe. It reminds me of “Requiem For A Dream” which is one of the darkest and most tragic movies I’ve ever seen.
The book was impossible to put down, since Treadwell was able to hook me in due to my curiosity, that being said I did not enjoy it very much.
One of my all-time favourite books is “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley. I was astonished that such an undeniable classic had been authored by a woman when I came across it, as men dominate the landscape when it comes to the titles of “greatest ever.” Yet Mary Shelley managed to reach that level of gender-neutrality in her work, when you don’t have to, nor want to, see things through a feminist lens, but can just enjoy the work and thankfully say that artistic greatness knows no gender, place, race, or whatever.
The same can be said of J.K.Rowling as well. You pick up her work and just enjoy her world-building without ever giving gender much thought until you all of a sudden realise that Harry Potter has a mom, rather than a dad.
Treadwell’s work is anchored in a rejection of all and everything as the protagonist cannot cope with her gender or more importantly: her gender in combination with her socio-economic status.
That says more about the internal outsider sentiment of her main character or Treadwell herself rather than society in general, as the other characters seem content with being firmly fixed within the ticking clockwork of the cold, uncaring, “machine.”
In fact it is as if thought the characters integrate into the monotony of their mechanical equipment, or maybe humans always were and the machines simply mimic us….
If anything Treadwell will make you think and therein lays her greatness. Even though I didn’t enjoy reading “Machinal” I couldn’t put it down and found myself writing this long entry, after her work had triggered a whole arsenal of thoughts.