Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Quotes

Quote #1

JAMES
Yes, forget! Forget everything and face nothing! It's a convenient philosophy if you've no ambition in life except to – (1.1.45)

It's interesting that this attack should be directed at Jamie, since throughout the first act, he's the only character in the play who won't forget or back down from Edmund or Mary's problems. True, in Jamie's own life he tries to forget anything inconvenient, but he's passionate about making sure no one forgets his mother's addiction or the severity of his brother's illness.

Quote #2

EDMUND
I want you to promise me that even if it should turn out to be something worse, you'll know I'll soon be all right again, anyway, and you won't worry yourself sick, and you'll keep on taking care of yourself –
MARY
I won't listen when you're so silly! There's absolutely no reason to talk as if you expected something dreadful! Of course, I promise you. I give you my sacred word of honor! But I suppose you're remembering I've promised before on my word of honor. (1.1.226)

Here's the first comment that we know is a straight-up lie. When Jamie asks Mary to take care of herself, he obviously means not to turn back to morphine, and she responds with an oath on her sacred word of honor – which she has no intention of abiding by. Those are awfully strong words that make it impossible to trust Mary as the play goes on.

Quote #3

TYRONE
Mary! For God's sake, forget the past!
MARY
With strange objective calm.
Why? How can I? The past is the present, isn't it? It's the future, too. We all try to lie out of that but life won't let us. (2.2.103)

Here Mary makes the connection between memory, the past, and deceit explicit. A life spent trying to battle against the constraints of the past is a life spent lying, according to Mary. We have to remember the context, though, since Mary is high on morphine in this scene. When she isn't on morphine, she wants to move forward and forget about the nasty parts of the past. But which is right? Just because Mary's high, doesn't mean that she's inherently wrong.

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