QUOTATIONS: 1) Hal: my papers are turned down for the right reasons – my stuff is trivial. Catherine: It’s not about big ideas. It’s work. You’ve got to chip away at a problem. Hal: That’s not what you dad did. Catherine: I think it was, in a way. He’d attack a question from the side, from some weird angle, sneak up on it, grind away at it. He was just so much faster than anyone else that from the outside it looked magical. (ACT 1 SCENE 3) 2) Hal: He was the best. My generation hasn’t produced anything like him. He revolutionized the field twice before he was 22. (ACT 2 SCENE 2)
3) Robert: you knew what a prime number was before you could read. (ACT 1 SCENE 1) 4) Catherine: - expressible as the sum of 2 cubed equal 1,729. And ten cubed plus 9 cubed. Yes, we’ve got it, thank you. Robert: You see? Even your depression is mathematical... The kind of potential you have- (ACT 1 SCENE 1) 5) Hal: Mathematicians are insane. (ACT 1 SCENE 3) 6) Hal: this is too advanced (ACT 2 SCENE 2) 7) Catherine: it’s my proof, I wrote it. (ACT 2 SCENE 2)
Why do we tend to link genius with insanity? Many gifted people have also been tragically deranged. Perhaps because the same twist in the brain that makes for exceptional talent also opens the door to mischief. After all, who can draw a clear line between extreme originality and madness? Innovative works of art or incandescently unconventional scientific theories have routinely been dismissed as crazy.
Quotations: 1) Cathrine: I’m afraid I’m like my dad. Hal: You’re not him. Catherine: Maybe I will be. Hal: Maybe. Maybe you’ll be better. (ACT 2 SCENE 5) 2) Robert: Well if that’s why you’re worried you’re not keeping up with the medical literature. There are all kinds of factors. It’s not simply something you inherit. Just because I went bughouse doesn’t mean you will. (ACT 1 SCENE 1)
3) Catherine says “You think I’m like Dad” Claire: “I think you have some of his talent and some of his tendency toward…instability” (ACT 1 SCENE 2) 4) Claire: Can you tell me about it? The proof. I’m just curious. Hal: It would take some time. How much math have you got? Claire: I’m a currency analyst. It helps to be very quick with numbers. I am. I probably inherited about one onethousandth of my father’s ability. It’s enough. Catherine got more, I’m not sure how much. (ACT 2 SCENE 3)
HEREDITY Catherine is in a vulnerable position. Considering her own level of skill in mathematics, her age of 25, and the general confusion of her life after the death of her father, she is uncertain whether she too will succumb to the same type of mental illness. The question of how much Catherine has inherited from Robert is central to the play: did she or Robert write the groundbreaking mathematical proof which Hal discovers? Will she follow in her father’s footsteps and succumb to mental illness? Has her life passed her by and is it too late for her at age 25? The tension is heightened by the confusion and emotional volatility that takes place in a situation such as that following the death of a family member. Catherine’s mood swings, sarcasm, and high intelligence are simultaneously character traits, responses to her father’s death, and possible warning signs for her future.
QUOTATIONS: 1) Robert: Don’t read so many magazines. Sit down & get the machinery going & I swear to God you’ll feel fine. The simple fact that we can talk about this together is a good sign (ACT 1 SCENE 1) 2) Hal: “The years she has lost caring for me. I almost wrote wasted. Yet her refusal to let me be institutionalized – her keeping me at home… where does her strength come from? I can never repay her. Today is her birthday: she is 21. I’m taking her to dinner.” (ACT 1 SCENE 1)
3) Claire: I think you have some of his talent and some of his tendency toward instability […] The doctors in New York and the people are the best. Catherine: Fuck you. Claire: It would be entirely up to you. You wouldn’t live anywhere, you can… Catherine: I hate you (ACT 1 SCENE 4)
QUOTATIONS: 1) Catherine: I spent my life with him. I fed him. Talked to him. Tried to listen when he talked. Talked to people who weren´t there… (ACT 1 SCENE 1) 2) Catherine: Then I realized he wasn´t reading: he believed aliens were sending him messages through the Dewey decimal numbers on the library books. (ACT 1 SCENE 1)
3) Catherine: You died a week ago Robert: Heart failure. Quick. The funeral´s tomorrow. Catherine: You´re sitting here. You´re giving me advice. You brought me champagne. Robert: Yes. (ACT 1 SCENE 1)