What are the themes in the play Harvey?

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Elwood P. Dowd is a man whose primary relationship is with a fantastic creature, a pooka, who appears to him as a giant rabbit named Harvey. To Elwood, Harvey is real; to others, he is evidence that Elwood is mentally ill.

The playwright (Mary Chase ) encourages...

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Elwood P. Dowd is a man whose primary relationship is with a fantastic creature, a pooka, who appears to him as a giant rabbit named Harvey. To Elwood, Harvey is real; to others, he is evidence that Elwood is mentally ill.

The playwright (Mary Chase) encourages the reader or viewer to empathize with Elwood; thus, the primary theme of the play is tolerance for difference. Elwood does not engage in any dangerous or destructive activities, but his sister's shame takes precedent over familial bonds. Elwood enjoys hanging out with Harvey, who—despite his many differences—understands him; he is happy in this contemplative, harmonious world.

Chase alludes to a theme regarding the harmfulness of ambition; in this analysis, she implicitly criticizes the competitiveness of the American Dream.

Additionally, based on Elwood's visits with Dr. Chumley—which are not helpful in changing his ideas or behavior—Chase also suggests that there are limitations to what medicine can understand about human consciousness.

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Harvey, written by Mary Chase, is the story of Elwood P. Dowd and his friend Harvey. Harvey is a giant rabbit that only Elwood can see. Elwood’s sister and niece are embarrassed by him and attempt to have him committed to an insane asylum. But they realize that Elwood is happy as he is and decide to leave him be.

There are several themes explored in this play. One is the idea of reality vs. imagination and which is better to live with. Elwood has an imaginary friend and it makes him happy. His family wants him to live in the real world, but if he is happy, what is the advantage of living in the real world?

This runs into the idea of living up to social expectations. The reason Elwood’s sister and niece want him to change is because they are embarrassed by him. They want to have a good place in society and feel he is hurting that by talking about Harvey in public. Would they feel the same way if they were not concerned with their standing in society?

 

 

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