In Harvey, how does the play's location serve as microcosm?

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Most of the play Harvey occurs in Chumley's Rest, a kind of sanitarium or mental institution. The sanitarium serves as a kind of microcosm of the real world, in which those who are supposedly sane have their own set of psychological quirks and illnesses.

Veta Louise Simmons, a society matron,...

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Most of the play Harvey occurs in Chumley's Rest, a kind of sanitarium or mental institution. The sanitarium serves as a kind of microcosm of the real world, in which those who are supposedly sane have their own set of psychological quirks and illnesses.

Veta Louise Simmons, a society matron, brings her brother, a drinker named Elwood P. Dowd, to Chumley's Rest because Elwood insists that he sees a giant rabbit, or pooka, named Harvey. Elwood is an affable kind of character, and the receiving doctor, named Dr. Sanderson, at first assumes it is Veta who is really crazy and tries to have her committed. This act establishes the idea that those who are pillars of society and who appear sane are actually anything but. For example, Sanderson, one of the doctors, is cold to the nurse, Ruth Kelly, who likes him, and he seems almost pathologically cold and emotionally isolated. Later, Dr. Chumley, the head doctor, also starts to see Harvey, showing that even those in a position of power are just as crazy as the patients they attempt to cure.

The characters who populate the stage in the play all have self-deceptions and delusions, though they do not state them as candidly as Elwood does. For example, Veta has delusions about the marriage prospects of her daughter, Myrtle Mae, who later falls for an impolite hospital orderly. Veta and Myrtle Mae have delusions that committing or medicating Elwood will make them more respectable in the community because they consider Elwood an embarrassment. Sanderson has delusions about how dumb and unworthy the sweet and smart Nurse Kelly is. In the end, it seems as though in some ways, Elwood's delusions are at least conducive to making him sweet and charming, while the others' delusions tend to make them nasty and self-serving. Chumley's Rest is a microcosm of the world, filled with people with their own forms of insanity and delusions.

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