Harding (William Redfield)

Mr. Harding stays in the hospital voluntarily because he doesn't think he's capable of living in the outside world. He might also be gay, as he reveals when he says to Taber, "Suppose I am."

He'd Better Start Making Sense Soon

But the most prominent thing about Harding's character is the way he falls into super intellectual language whenever he's dealing with a stressful subject. It's his coping mechanism. For example, he talks about his suspicions about his wife's affairs by saying, "The only thing I can speculate on […] is the very existence of my life with or without my wife, in terms of the human relationships, the juxtaposition." The problem is that his intellectual language is pretty much meaningless. It allows Harding to hide behind a phony intellect when in reality, he's not actually saying anything.

When Max Taber calls Harding on his abstract language, Harding gets rattled and randomly asks, "You trying to say I'm a queer. Is that it?" But at the end of the day, Harding looks like he's not really capable of overcoming his anxieties. He's dead certain that he's expressing himself clearly when he talks intellectually, but no one else understands. Harding assumes it's their fault even though he's the one who's not making sense, shouting "I can't seem to get that through to you!"

All in all, his struggle helps show just how difficult it is for patients to communicate with one another inside the mental hospital. There are just too many issues getting in the way.

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