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The relationship of Positivism and Machinal is articulated in the actions of The Girl (her character name); she acts outside ethical or legal limitations because her only recourse lay in murdering her abusive husband. Positivism states that so-called morality is an imperfect, early form of logic, one that gets imbedded in social “laws” and habits, but which follows a “natural” logic of its own. The heroine, most often seen as a feminist ideal, is actually confronted with a situation that the “law of the land” did not have an avenue to help her; the economic mise-en-scene gives her no alternative. The play justifies her action in a convincing way, and the positivist philosopher would applaud her transcending “morality” with a logical solution. The sexual drives demonstrated in the play are in a sense false motives – it is just a manifestation of the freedom that she craves and deserves. The play’s expressionistic style also lends itself to the abstractions of Positivism.
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