In Harvey, A Comedy in Three Acts by Mary Chase, what do you think of Elwood’s observation: “Some people are blind. That is often brought to my attention” (19). To what, in Elwood’s view, are they blind? In what sense do you think Elwood has “won out” over “reality (49)? What is Elwood implying when he explains why he “had such hopes” for the name Harvey (55–6)?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

On page 19, Elwood compliments Kelly, telling her, "You really are very lovely." Kelly replies by thanking Elwood for the compliment and also remarks, "Some people don't seem to think so." When Elwood says, "Some people are blind," what he ostensibly means is that some people are blind to Kelly's...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

On page 19, Elwood compliments Kelly, telling her, "You really are very lovely." Kelly replies by thanking Elwood for the compliment and also remarks, "Some people don't seem to think so." When Elwood says, "Some people are blind," what he ostensibly means is that some people are blind to Kelly's loveliness. In other words, he is simply continuing the compliment, by reassuring Kelly that she is indeed lovely even if other people can't see it. There is also, of course, an ironic secondary meaning to Elwood's line here, as people in his life are blind to his friend, Harvey, the six-foot, white, anthropomorphic rabbit. They are also, in a figurative sense, blind to the world of the imagination that Harvey symbolizes.

On page 49, when Elwood says to the doctor that he "wrestled with reality for forty years, and (is) happy to state that (he) finally won out over it," he means that reality is, or at least can be, and has been for him, an oppressive and antagonistic prospect. Reality is about climbing the social ladder (his sister, Veta, for example, lives in this reality) and accruing materialistic gains. Reality in the sense that most adults know it is not about being pleasant, getting on with everyone and indulging the imagination. And this is why Elwood is happy to have finally escaped the reality to which the doctor is referring.

Elwood later says to the doctor that he had "such hopes" for the name Harvey precisely because he had never known anyone with that name before. In other words, the name Harvey didn't come with any connotations, good or bad, owing to its association with other people named Harvey. The white rabbit could, therefore, exist as a completely independent personality, a blank slate upon which it could write its own character.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Elwood P. Dowd is a 47 year old man, who has an imaginary (some believe) friend named, Harvey. Harvey is a six foot, three and one-half inch tall rabbit. Everywhere Elwood goes, he introduces Harvey to them. Veta, Elwood's, sister is embarrassed by him, and decides to have him committed to a sanatorium. This is when the real fun begins!

When Elwood says "Some people are blind. That is often brought to my attention", we see that Elwood is not just talking about Harvey. Elwood is a simple man and most people overlook him. He feels that people don't see him as he really is. Yes, he has this giant rabbit for a friend, but that is not the only thing people are blind to. 

When Dr. Sanderson is talking to Elwood, he asks him about the name, Harvey, and how this could be Elwood's mind trying to help him remember something.

"Dr. Sanderson: Think carefully, Dowd. Didn't you know somebody, sometime, someplace by the name of Harvey? Didn't you ever know anybody by that name?

Elwood: No, no, not one, Doctor. Maybe that's why I always had such high hopes for it."

This implies that Elwood has been disappointed in life, by the people he knows. Having Elwood say that he had such high hopes for the name, Harvey, shows us that Elwood's hopes have always been dashed by people. Elwood is just a man trying to get people to see him for who he is. By the end of the play, we see that people just might be seeing Elwood in a whole new light.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team