Act I Summary
Harvey is a play about forty-seven-year-old Elwood P. Dowd, whose best friend is an invisible, six-foot-tall rabbit named Harvey. Dowd and his rabbit friend are well-known and liked in the taverns around town, but his relatives, who have come to live with him, are embarrassed by his behavior and try to have him committed to an insane asylum. The first scene opens with Dowd’s sister, Veta Louise Simmons, and her daughter, Myrtle Mae, throwing a luncheon for the older society matrons of the town. They count on Dowd being out, but he comes home suddenly, talking to Harvey and holding doors for him, and, worse, introducing him to the ladies at the party. As the party clears out, Veta swears that he will not disgrace the family again, and she asks him to wait in the den, which he does happily, while she goes to make arrangements for him to be committed.
Scene II takes place at the mental institution, Chumley’s Rest. Nurse Ruth Kelly, who is young and good-looking, interviews Veta about her brother, who is waiting outside in the taxi cab. When Elwood comes in, Kelly has an orderly take him upstairs. When the psychiatrist on duty, Dr. Sanderson, interviews Veta, he gets the impression that she is the one who has hallucinated Harvey (she admits to having seen him sometimes), and so he has her locked up. When he finds out that Elwood Dowd has been locked up, he assumes that a mistake has been made, and Dowd is brought down to the office,...
(The entire section is 456 words.)