Theme of Trust in 'Proof' Written by David Auburn: Critical Essay

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Proof is a play that is written by David Auburn, a production that earned him a Pulitzer Prize for his achievement. The book tells the story of Catherine, a young girl with a mental disorder who spent years caring for her father and learning mathematics and science. The story's theme includes the issues of trust and betrayal, both of which are irrational and rational acts. Irrational because in the play Catherine is most vulnerable emotionally, vulnerable in having her weaknesses known to others, all the while with the continuous fear of others using this knowledge to their advantage. For example, when Catherine finally reveals that the proof Hal sees is her work. Hal is in doubt. Hal says, “If there was anything up there it would be pretty high-order. It would take a professional to recognize it”, in essence saying that she is unable to recognize something that advanced (Act I, Scene I). Rationally she is vulnerable because, in her scientific, mathematical mind, others are ready to assess the possibilities of gain and loss, calculate expected utility-supported hard performance data, and conclude that she will behave in a predictable manner. In practice, trust is given due to experience and one's faith in the attribute.

The issue of trust and betrayal in the play is the driving energy behind the character that grows within Catherine. Despite her intelligence, which her father recognized but declined to further improve, her doubt and insecurity stand in the way of her own mathematical potential and that is why, throughout the play, we see her contradiction about her own achievements. She sees her father’s talent turned insanity as a difficult responsibility and almost a curse: if she has inherited his talent, she will end up inheriting his insanity as well. Her refusal to trust herself, to become better, and surpass her father’s intelligence, is one thing that prevents her from rising up and developing herself. While alive and lucid her father was inflexible that she use her potential, and in the images where Catherine is seeing her father's ghost, he encourages her to face her fears and run forward with her gift. In the play, her suspicion of deception and her distrust of others can definitely be explained through the personality of her sister, who views Catherine as incapable to care for herself and assumes that her depression is a foreshadowing of her own insanity.

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The Proof is a very compelling and very well-told tale in the form of a play, filled with satisfactory twists and bewilderment to keep readers and audiences alike imagining. It satisfies various levels either intellectual, emotional, or psychological. Additionally, the four well-described and tightly twisted characters of the story, which connect family drama, mystery, and love stories, are the perfect vehicles. They show how trust and betrayal affect the lives of others and in this case Catherine in particular. The story also tackles those divine principles that are difficult to establish such as the feelings of trust, love, and sanity. When everything else collapses, it doesn't help to completely give up. Rather, a person could easily speculate.

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Theme of Trust in ‘Proof’ Written by David Auburn: Critical Essay. (2023, August 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 16, 2024, from
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