Character analysis is imperative in the study of literature as it enables the evaluation of the character’s traits, personality, and behavior. It allows readers and potential actors to learn about the character in a play and immerse themselves into the role. Besides, character analysis helps in the understanding of not only the storyline but also the people or characteristics in them. Claire is a supporting character in the play Proof, who forms the basis of this assignment (Auburn, 2000). Claire is an antagonist character, portrays strained relationships with her family, and is a flat or static character. In addition, she is experiencing contrasting feelings and emotions that bring out her kindness and indifference at the same time.
The proof is a play developed by David Auburn revolving around four characters with the main concern and spotlight being on Catherine. Catherine is a daughter to Robert, and sister to Claire. She is recently deceased, a mathematical genius, and struggles with her genius nature as well as mental illness. The play revolves around family, mathematical academics, truth, and gender aspects. Her father, Robert, is an esteemed mathematician who dies from a prolonged illness. Catherine, the lead character, possesses her father’s knowledge and fears she may possess the mental illness that incapacitated her father (Auburn, 2000). Claire, on the other hand, is her older sister who wishes to take her to New York, she is caring and at the same time cold. The play presents a conflict that introduces Hal an ex-student of Robert. The conflict revolves around research conducted by Catherine, but Hal mistakes it for Robert’s. Catherine is faced with an integrity dilemma. She wonders how to convince the rest she wrote the research, which is a mathematical proof.
Claire is Catherine’s elder sister and Robert’s other daughter. Claire is a practical and business-minded woman who lives in New York. She leaves home and distances herself from her family but later returns once her father Robert dies. She returns home to take care of Catherine and wishes to take Catherine back to New York. She is not portrayed as smart as her sister Catherine and her father, Robert (Auburn, 2000). She has a different personality type who is excited by life. Material gains, and experiences in New York. This description forms a strong basis for the analysis of Claire’s character and role in the play.
Character Analysis: Claire
Primarily, Claire is an antagonist and a static character in the play. An antagonist character is likely to challenge, oppose, or make the environment hostile for the protagonist. Claire is a flat character who lacks significant developments in the play, as she remains predictable from the beginning to the end of the play. She hardly changes her personality, motives, and role in the play. The action of working centrally to the protagonist, antagonists are portrayed as the ‘bad guys’ in a play. In this case, Claire is the character that comes closest to an antagonist character (Auburn, 2000). This is represented from the fact that she is kind, indifferent, caring, and intrusive with Catherine. Claire desires to help her sister Catherine by taking her to New York so she can feel better and recover from the ‘sanity’ that is creeping in her.
However, her methods and ways to show her care are aggressive, intrusive, and unwanted. Despite knowing that she and Catherine are different in opinions, likes, and intelligence, she does not recognize the fact but rather pathologizes the differences and makes decisions for Catherine. However, she has pure-hearted and honest intentions to ensure Catherine’s recovery and recuperation. This is seen when she says, “You could stay with me and Mitch at first, there’s plenty of room. Then you could get your own place….” (Auburn, 2000). Moreover, she feels isolated from her family, as she does not relate closely with the mathematics geniuses in the family. It is for that reason she left Chicago and lived in New York. The isolation typecasts her as a villain, which makes her the closest antagonist character in the play.
Secondly, Claire has strained relations with other characters who happen to be her family members. She seems isolated and resents her father and sister due to the lack of mathematical genes. Moreover, when her father dies, she lacks remorse but feels a sense of relief. Despite she is focused on her affairs and seems detached from her father’ death. This can be explained by the fact that she moves to New York and only returns when her father dies (Auburn, 2000). She feels isolated and does not relate closely and as easily as the relationship between Catherine and Robert. These two characters have cordial relations as they share common interest and intelligence, mathematical geniuses. However, Claire is not as smart and does not have the mathematical genes; this makes her relations strained.
Claire’s relationship with Catherine seems troubled, and the play ends without any resolution coming up. Claire desires to help her sister recover while living in New York; however, Catherine has different likes where she has a romantic interest in Harold, which makes her decide to remain in Chicago. When Catherine says, “Okay? I really don’t need this, Claire. I’m fine, you know, I’m totally fine, and then you swoop in here with these questions…” (Auburn, 2000). Catherine feels Claire is being intrusive and is treating her as a child, yet she can make her decisions. On the other hand, Claire’s intentions are pure as she wishes to ‘save’ Catherine from acquiring the same mental illness that killed their father. The situation results in two main elements, namely a strained relationship with the sister and a conflict Claire is faced with.
Thirdly, she is experiencing contrasting feelings and emotions that bring out her kindness and indifference at the same time. Claire is portrayed as a successful businessperson with an influential career, which she uses to compensate for the lack of mathematical intelligence and genes. Claire possesses emotional strength, which enables her to remain composed even during the period of loss and grieve. This is seen when she says, “Anyone who’s been to the funeral and wants to come. And it’s the only time I can see any old Chicago friends. It’s a funeral, but we don’t have to be completely grim about it.” (Auburn, 2000). She blocks and shuts weak emotions and empathy, which can be misinterpreted as being selfish, indifference, and superficial. Her decision to leave Chicago her home and family and live in New York makes her seem cold-hearted and self-centered. Her desire to compensate for her lack of mathematical intelligence with business-related intelligence and successful career shape her moral character to be negatively interpreted and perceived.
However, Claire is kind and loving despite using stringent love methods to express it. She cares about Catherine, who seems to succumb to insanity slowly. She believes that if Catherine moves to New York, she will have a better life, opportunities, and mental sanity. In the event when Claire sees the romantic interest between Catherine and Harold, she feels jealous and threatened (Auburn, 2000). She does not want anything to ruin her plans as she feels she will acquire a sense of relieve when Catherine is in New York. It may alleviate the guilt she has for not being around when their father was dying.
Claire is an
antagonist character with strained relations with other characters due to her
comparison and desire to math char lack of mathematical genes with business and
career prosperity. She is more of a flat character who lacks significant
developments in the play, as she remains predictable from the beginning to the
end of the play. She hardly changes her personality, motives, and role in the
play. Claire is encountered with a conflict on how to convince Catherine to
move in with her in New York as a form of relieve. She uses tough love,
condescending tone, and intrusiveness to corner Catherine to accept the
proposition; however, it is prevented from her desires when a romantic interest
is built up between Harold and Catherine.
Auburn, D. (2000). Proof . Compact Literature., pp: 1181-1232.
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