II Theme2.1 David Auburn chose the name of the play to be “Proof” not only for the mathematical pun, but also to show the significance that trust renders in all aspects of the play. In the play Proof, a women named Catherine had to prove she was the one who wrote a remarkable proof and not her brilliant mathematician father named Robert. This made it even harder to know who really wrote the proof. Robert passed away due to heart failure so a group of mathematicians wanted to look through is notebooks just in case he wrote anything that could revolutionize the math field. One of these mathematicians was Hal, a former student of Robert and Catherine’s love interest. It was unlikely to find anything important since Robert was mentally ill, but Hal wanted to make sure of it.
Hal looked through all of his notebooks and found nothing useful until Catherine gave him a key to unlock on of his desk drawers. In there, he found a remarkable proof that could be onto something great. Catherine tells Hal and her sister Claire she wrote the proof even though there is enough evidence to show the proof is actually Robert’s.
Catherine and Hal had started building a trusting relationship up until the point when they encountered the proof. Anytime Catherine found evidence that showed she wrote the proof, there would always be someone challenging her argument. Hal chose to believe Catherine, revealing the theme that trust can override the uncertainties to finalize the justified conclusion. Hal adored Catherine which made him trust her even more.
2.2 A major theme that arises all through the play is: trust can override the uncertainties to finalize the justified conclusion. Hal must trust that Catherine wrote the proof, but he finds it hard because he sees some possible validation.
Hal says, “It looks… I don’t know what Catherine’s handwriting looks like” (Auburn II. ii). Hal wants to grasp onto the chance that Catherine did write the proof, but deep down he is thinking it is her father’s. Hal is letting his emotions factor in on his decision whether or not to trust Catherine. Claire reveals to Catherine that she also doesn’t believe her when she says, “.
..I’m sorry, I just…(To Catherine) The book was in the… You told him where to find it…You gave him they key…
You wrote this incredible thing and you didn’t tell anyone” (Auburn II. ii). Catherine knows what it feels like to be completely alone since she had to dropout of school and take care of her mentally ill father: “Kid, I’ve seen you. You sleep till noon, you eat junk, you don’t work, the dishes pile up in the sink. If you go out it’s to buy magazines…And those are the good days.
Some days you don’t get up, you don’t get out of bed” (Auburn I.i). Catherine doesn’t have any friends so when she met Hal, she felt a sense of acceptance. Catherine 2.
3 Another theme in the play is: one must know their own identity before they can have confidence in their own worth. 2.4 The final theme in the play is: one must learn how to trust before they can be trusted. At the beginning of the play, Catherine didn’t want to trust Hal when he was going through Robert’s notebooks. Catherine said, “I’m saying you’re lying to me and stealin my family’s property” (Auburn I.i).
Catherine is trying to accuse Hal of stealing her father’s notebooks even though she doesn’t have any credible proof that he had done anything wrong. She also does the same this to Catie when she says, “Don’t lie to me, Claire. I’m smarter than you” (Auburn I.iV). Catherine has gotten used to taking care of everything by herself so when Claire is trying to help her, she has a hard time trusting that she’ll make the right decisions.
When the table has turned and Catherine is the one asking to be trusted, she expects everyone to forget she didn’t trust them in the first place. This reveals the theme that one must learn how to trust before they can be trusted. Since Catherine didn’t trust Hal and Claire, they had a hard time trying to trust her.