Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Family, Parents, Health, Father, Disease, Illness, Medicine, Mathematics

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2020/12/15

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“The Proof” (2005) is a complicated movie about a mathematician and his daughters. The mathematician, Robert Llewellyn, is famous for having done groundbreaking mathematics work in his twenties. The father, Robert, and daughter Catherine, live in Chicago where the father was once a professor of mathematics. A few years before the beginning of the action in the movie, the father has become sick again from his mental illness. According to descriptions from other characters in the movie, Robert has decomposed in his last years. Catherine had dropped out of school a few years earlier to help care for her sick father. Though she is a brilliant mathematician as well, she decides to give up her chance to finish college. Her sister, Claire Llewellyn, is married and lives in New York City. Due to the fact that Robert has a mental illness, his daughter Catherine is also suspected of having a mental illness. However, both Catherine and Robert are skeptical about mental illness and its assumptions. The father and daughter pair works together during the father’s last years to develop further mathematical ideas. In fact, Catherine develops a new mathematical proof, which turns out to be a major contribution to mathematics. Existentialism is a philosophy that emphasizes individual existence, freedom, and choice. Existentialism denies the possibility of an all-powerful god and instead places responsibility for well-being upon the human individual. Catherine demonstrates this quality in her response to mental illness, her Dad’s illness, and mathematics. She knows that she must rely on herself. She cannot trust others because they are skeptical about her ability to tell the truth and her intentions. Thus, Catherine’s character can be explained in terms of existential philosophy as the fact that Catherine is free-thinking, independent, and takes responsibility for her actions.
Existentialism is a philosophy that emphasizes individual existence, freedom, and human choice. Existentialism denies the possibility of an all-powerful god and instead places responsibility for well-being upon the human individual. Catherine demonstrates this quality in her response to mental illness, her Dad’s illness, and mathematics. She knows that in the end she can only depend upon herself. She cannot trust others because they are skeptical about her intentions and ability to tell the truth. Thus, if one accepts the idea that Catherine has a mental illness, then Catherine’s character immediately falls under the control of another person. It is as if Catherine cannot manage her affairs, as if she is not in control. For instance, Claire, who obviously doesn’t have a full appreciation of her father’s illness, is inclined to believe that one who has a mental illness should be in full-time care. Catherine, however, finds this belief repugnant and quits school to care for her father. She believes that her father should be allowed to live at home, and she denies that her father should be in full-time care. Catherine feels so strongly about this position that she is willing to incur a personal loss in order to see her father is cared for properly. This fact demonstrates another tenant of existential philosophy in that Catherine is willing to sacrifice part of her to do what she believes is the right thing to do. She believes so strongly in freedom that she gives up her time to care for her father—a choice that has many consequences. Catherine demonstrates that she has a strong belief in individualism and existentialist philosophy.
The father and daughter pair works together during the father’s last years to develop further mathematical ideas. In fact, Catherine develops a new mathematical proof, which turns out to be a major contribution to mathematics. The proof deals with prime numbers. Catherine locks the proof in a dresser drawer in her father’s study, shortly after his death. Catherine gives the key in the drawer to Hal Brooks. In turn Hal discovers the proof and finds that the proof is brilliant. He decides to take it to the mathematics department at the university to check over the proof. Claire, however, disbelieves that Catherine wrote the proof; she instead suggests that Robert wrote the proof and then gave in to Catherine. However, Catherine insists that she is the author of the proof. In defense of her authorship, she comments to Hal, “You know there is nothing even remotely like that up here.” She points to the fact that the 103 other notebooks her father left when he died are filled with nonsense. Finally, she concedes, saying, “Okay. We’ll sit down and I’ll talk you through the proof.” But Hal is unconvinced, and retorts that “It would take days and it still wouldn’t prove that she wrote it.” Hal insists, “Your dad may have written it and explained it to you later.” Hal refuses to believe her because the proof is in her father’s notebook, and it is suggested it is written in her father’s handwriting. Yet Hal promises to take the proof to the university and have it tested. Over the course of the story, it becomes evident that Robert is perhaps faking the mental illness for a chance to teach his daughter the complicated mathematics theories he has studied over the course of his lifetime.
The dynamic between Catherine and her father is special because the two characters share the experience of dealing with a mental illness. In fact, it appears that Catherine has learned self-control—that is not to get angry when others have insulted her. She shows anger when insulted, but she does not act out in violence, rage, or revenge. Instead, Catherine acts as one persecuted would act—continually attempting to prove her innocence, denying all accusations against her character and the validity of her intellectual property. Catherine Llewellyn shows her mastery of control over attacks against her person and liberty. She uses persuasion to convince skeptics of the truth of her claims, however, had she acted out in anger, she would almost certainly be restrained and forced into treatment. Catherine is in control throughout the film, although, it appears as if she is not in control. She is confronted by both her sister and Hal. It is an interesting dynamic that Catherine and her sister Claire argue and dispute about the nature of mental illness. Claire knows only that her father has always had a mental illness. Catherine too, it is believed, has some mental illness as well because she acts like her father. However, both Catherine and her father seem to understand that the mental illness they’ve been accused of having is in fact not quite correct. Catherine is accused of suffering from depression, laziness, confusion, and mental illness. Yet Catherine stays strong throughout the film. There are numerous instances in the film where Catherine is threatened with treatment, even if it is just a joke. Catherine’s father, says, “You dropped out of school. You sleep till noon. You eat junk. You don’t work. The dishes pile up in the sink. Some days you don’t even get out of bed”. Angrily he expresses to his daughter the desire for her to clean-up, so she doesn’t resemble one who has a mental illness. The story never resolves whether or not Catherine or Robert truly have a mental illness. Thus, the two form a special relationship that consists of studying mathematics and beating mental illness.
“The Proof” (2005) is a complicated movie about a mathematician and his daughters. The father and daughter pair works together during the father’s last years to develop a new mathematical proof. In the film, Catherine develops a new mathematical proof. Unfortunately both Catherine and Robert suffer from mental illness, which adds complexity to the film. Catherine shows that she is an existentialist in her response to mental illness, her Dad’s illness, and mathematics. She knows that she must rely on herself. Catherine’s diligence and commitment to freedom and higher ideas pays off as she becomes the author of a new mathematical proof. While others remain skeptical about her ability and intentions, she is free-thinking, independent, and takes responsibility for her actions.

Works Cited

Gwenneth Paltrow, Anthony Hopkins, et al. The Proof. 2005. Entertainment. Dir. John Madden.
“Existentialism.” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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WePapers. (2020, December, 15) Free “The Proof” Essay Example. Retrieved December 05, 2021, from https://www.wepapers.com/samples/free-the-proof-essay-example/
"Free “The Proof” Essay Example." WePapers, 15 Dec. 2020, https://www.wepapers.com/samples/free-the-proof-essay-example/. Accessed 05 December 2021.
WePapers. 2020. Free “The Proof” Essay Example., viewed December 05 2021, <https://www.wepapers.com/samples/free-the-proof-essay-example/>
WePapers. Free “The Proof” Essay Example. [Internet]. December 2020. [Accessed December 05, 2021]. Available from: https://www.wepapers.com/samples/free-the-proof-essay-example/
"Free “The Proof” Essay Example." WePapers, Dec 15, 2020. Accessed December 05, 2021. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/free-the-proof-essay-example/
WePapers. 2020. "Free “The Proof” Essay Example." Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. Retrieved December 05, 2021. (https://www.wepapers.com/samples/free-the-proof-essay-example/).
"Free “The Proof” Essay Example," Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com, 15-Dec-2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.wepapers.com/samples/free-the-proof-essay-example/. [Accessed: 05-Dec-2021].
Free “The Proof” Essay Example. Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/free-the-proof-essay-example/. Published Dec 15, 2020. Accessed December 05, 2021.
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