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Proof by David Auburn
Transcript of Proof by David Auburn
by David Auburn
Curt Guyette- Essay on
Guyette focues on the way David Auburn characterizes Catherine's feelings and beliefs about her father.
He suggests that Catherine's previous notion that Robert was in fact a genius disintegrates once he becomes mentally unstable.
Robert represents a dark future to Catherine. She worries that she too will lose her sanity.
Guyette comments on Auburn's lack of chronological order in the play. It emphasizes Catherine's anxiety.
Auburn suggests that even with a number of facts, each character realizes that there may never be a clear way to discern truth, but trust can override small uncertainties in order to come to a conclusion.
While Aubrey is critical of Auburn's lack of closure, I argue that Auburn emphasizes the triviality of exact facts.
Auburn deliberately excludes evidence that Catherine wrote the proof to prove that it doesn't matter in the end.
He juxtaposes logical mathematical proofs with uncertainty in sanity and relationships.
Auburn does not leave any indication on the mental health of Catherine at the end of the play, yet he conveys a sense of trust between Catherine, Hal, and Claire.
Bryan Aubrey- Critical Essay on
Proof (Drama for Students)
Aubrey explains that the character Robert is based off the innovative mathematician, John Forbes Nash Jr.
Both exhibited signs of mental illness in their early twenties.
Aubrey also states that David Auburn carries the theme that genius coincides with madness throughout the play.
He argues that Auburn never comes to a full conclusion to any subplots nor provides a definitive answer on whether Catherine wrote the proof.
Catherine, daughter of Robert, a math genius, and a genius herself, elects to abandon her educational pursuits to care for her mentally unstable father.
After his death, Catherine falls into a depression and worries that she may too become unstable. Her sister, a new New York City resident, worries about this too.
Harold Dobbs, Hal, Robert's former student, engages in a sexual relationship with Catherine as he cleans out Robert's old notebooks to try to find any important proofs.
Hal finds a revolutionary proof in Robert's office, but Catherine claims that she is the true author of the proof. She struggles to get Hal and Claire to believe her.
Catherine believes Robert was completely insane and incapable of any intelligent thoughts. Hal and Claire believe that he just receded to far into his mind. The play has no indication that either view is correct
When Claire and Hal doubt that Catherine wrote the revolutionary proof, Catherine draws herself into isolation.
Auburn reveals that Catherine doesn't care much for the proof, but rather wants comfort and assurance of her own mental state.
At the same time Catherine believes Hal wants to steal her father's work. Hal denies this, however, he does attempt to sneak a notebook out of Catherine's house.
Claire and Catherine disagree on whether Catherine can take care of herself and function on her own.
Catherine argues that she not only took care of herself, but cared for their ailing father. Claire explains that Catherine's depressive mood and similarity to Robert indicate incompetence in taking care of herself.
Auburn includes Catherine's bursts of intelligence and subsequent breakdowns to indicate that often genius can exist only by living in a high emotional state.
Reconciliation in the play only follows the presence of trust, rather than conclusive evidence.
Catherine and Hal disregard their previous assumptions about each other. When the play ends, the two are on good terms.
Catherine decides to trust Claire and accepts help from her sister. Only then does Catherine feel a sense of relief. She begins to trust her own mind.
Auburn does not reveal the author of the proof, the intentions of Hal, or the actual state of Catherine's mind. However, all three characters find closure from their mutual trust.