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 has to prove her authorship of a remarkable proof even though all the evidence is showing that her brilliant mathematician father named Robert wrote it. Robert passed away due to heart failure so a group of mathematicians wanted to look through his notebooks just in case he wrote something that could revolutionize the math field.
Since Robert was dead, it made it harder to decipher who really wrote the proof. A mathematician named Hal was incharge of going through Robert’s old notebooks. He was a former student of Robert’s and Catherine’s love interest throughout the play. 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 one of his desk drawers.
She only gave him they key because she trusted him and started to fall in love with him. In the drawer, he found a remarkable proof that could be onto something substantial. Catherine tells Hal and her sister Claire she wrote the proof even though there was enough evidence to show the proof is actually Robert’s. Catherine now has to prove not only to herself, but to everyone else that she is capable of writing a exceptional proof which leads to the reasoning of the play to be called Proof. Catherine and Hal had started to build 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 something 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 when it was tough. 2.2 A major theme that arises all through the play is: only trust held together by love 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 .
. . referencing Robert’s handwriting 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 because he loves her, but deep down he is thinking it is her father’s. The part of Hal that loves Catherine want to believe her, but the mathematician side of him is wanting to accept the given evidence. Hal is letting his emotions get in the way of his decision, revealing the theme that only trust held together by love can override the uncertainties to finalize the justified conclusion. Relationships are only build on trust because love cannot be mathematically proven like a proof. Hal trust Catherine because he loved her. Another instance where trust is held together by love is when Claire reveals to Catherine that she also doesn’t believe she wrote the proof. Claire 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). David Auburn chose the syntax of Claire’s dialog to consist of a few ellipses in order to show just how mixed up her thoughts were when she was trying to piece together what Catherine was saying. Claire really wants to trust Catherine, but it’s hard to believe her absurd reasoning. Catherine knows what it feels like to be completely alone and dependent on herself 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 and took advantage of that opportunity to tell him about her remarkable proof. 2.
3 Another theme in the play is: one must know their own identity before they can have confidence in their own self worth. When Catherine was having a flashback of her father she said, “I haven’t done anything good . . .
By the time you were my age you were famous” (Auburn I. i). Catherine is always comparing herself to her father.
Hal confronted Catherine what she was doing when he said, “I’m not, I’m telling you, if I came up with one-tenth of the shit your dad produced, I could write my own ticket to any math department in the country” (Auburn I. i). Hal is trying to comfort Catherine by saying that if he, a very brilliant and successful mathematician, could create a small portion of what her father did then he could be accepted anywhere. He wants to make Catherine feel content with herself.
Hal inspires Catherine appreciate who she is:HAL. There is nothing wrong with you.CATHERINE. I think I’m like my dad.HAL.
You’re not him.CATHERINE. Maybe I will be.HAL. Maybe. Maybe you’ll be better.
(Auburn II. V).Hal made Catherine realize who she really was, revealing that own must know their own identity before that can have confidence in their own self 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 when she clearly doesn’t have any credible proof that he has done anything wrong. Catherine isn’t sure if Hal has good intentions.
She doesn’t know if he is using her to get his own fame in the math field or genuinely cares about her and wants to help her. Catherine also does the same thing 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. Catherine doesn’t know how to trust her closest friends because she has always relied on herself to do everything. 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 believe her.