- Alternate Character Interpretation:
- The play acts as one to real-life murderer Ruth Snyder. Unrepentant murderer who married a man, then tried to kill him to collect on his life-insurance policy? Or a poor woman pressured into a bad relationship who had no way out?
- Her lover, Richard Roe- was the affidavit containing his testimony truly voluntary? Did he mean to condemn her, seeing her as a murderess who went too far? Or was he blackmailed into giving it by prosecutors trumping up charges to extradite him, and had no real ill will towards her at all?
- Her husband, George H. Jones is treated somewhat sympathetically by the play. Is he Innocently Insensitive? Or does he purposefully use his money and power to bully a disadvantaged woman who's repulsed by his touch into marrying him?
- Values Dissonance:
- The playwright does not seem to care that much about blacks. During her trial, the Young Woman accuses "two dark-looking men" of killing her husband, when historically blacks have been lynched because of such accusations from white women. Her lover also speaks fondly of white women, saying that they're a relief after being around nothing but Indians. The script also refers to its one black character, a convict in the Woman's cellblock, as "the negro."
- The play's one homosexual character is a pedophile, grooming a young boy with alcohol.
- Values Resonance: On the other hand, the play is extremely feminist in condemning society's built-in expectations about women. While there is no overt misogyny or sexism, the title of the play itself implies the woman is trapped in a machine, that she simply doesn't fit into. She becomes a housewife and mother simply because it's the best way for she and her mother to survive and prosper, and no one but her lover really takes her or her opinions seriously. Many people believe this system survives into the modern day, and devote their lives to dismantling it.
YMMV / Machinal