3.1 Introduction of the characters
3.1.1 Leroy Hamilton
Leroy Hamilton is one of the four characters appearing in this play. He is eighty - four years old and he is a carpenter. He loves his job and also his work is beloved by others, as it is very high qualitative. He is married with Patricia Hamilton, who has been in an mental hospital for more than fifteen years now. Leroy is a Yankee, which means he is a deeply rooted American from the northern states. This combined with the fact that his wife is Swedish, causes problems in the Hamilton´s marriage. Leroy himself, comes from an old family, but he doesn´t care. He wants to make it on his own way, even though his ancestors were famous and rich. For example, Alexander Hamilton was a lawyer and one of the "Founding Fathers". Leroy is satisfied being a carpenter and earning only $ 17 per hour.
3.1.2 Patricia Hamilton
Patricia, or Pat, how Leroy calls her, has been in a mental hospital for more than fifteen years. The reader gets to know that she was at home several times again, but always had to go back because things got worse once more. The reason for her being in this hospital is that she never could imagine a bright future with her husband just working as a carpenter, for she comes out of a Swedish family who used to be quite rich. During her entire life she had problems accepting the status she and her husband were living in. So she is depressed of life and sees nothing what is worth living for. As the play takes place, the reader gets to know that she hasn´t taken her pills for over twenty days now and that she really feels okay with this. Now, after a very long time, she thinks about coming home to her husband and her seven children.
3.1.3 John Frick
Mr. Frick is a sixty year old former business owner. Actually, he has the same problem as Leroy Hamilton. Also his wife is in the mental hospital because of depression. He is a rather rich man who could afford a much better hospital than this one, but doesn´t, because he thinks his wife would not realize it
and it would not help her any futher. The reader gets to know during the play that he does not really care as much about his wife as Leroy does. This is another reason why he does not want to take his wife into a better hospital.
3.1.4 Karen Frick
Karen Frick is John´s wife. She is in the mental hospital for the same reason as Patricia is and the two women have build up a friendship during their residence. She is the only person in this play who really seems to be ill.
She is not able to keep a thought or stay at one theme of discussion. The reader realizes this as Patricia and Karen talk to each other. She seldomly replies to what Patricia says.
3.2 Defintion of "depression"
In order to understand why both woman are in hospital, it would be usefull to explain what "depression of life" means. Depression can be shown in two ways:
Emotionally and physically.
If you are depressed you lose motivation, interest and enjoyment of life. Depressed persons try to avoid contact with other people, they don´t have self - confidence, they feel useless and they feel that no one is around who understands them. These are the emotionally signs for depression and the following are the physically ones. Depressed persons have a high blood pressure, are lacking appetite, can´t get to sleep very well and they can not keep a thougt. As Karen and Patricia have several of this symptoms they are in the hospital.
3.3 The content of "The last Yankee"
3.3.1 Act One
The whole story begins in the waiting room of a mental hospital where, Leroy Hamilton and John Frick meet. They start a conversation and they realize that both have something in common: their wifes are in a mental hospital and both because of the same reason. Karen Frick and Patricia Hamilton are depressed of life. As they talk the is informed that Leroy works as a carpenter and that he does a very good job. His work is known and beloved by several people and by John. Mr. Frick had his own business and this is what made him very rich in comparism to Mr. Hamilton, who earns $ 17 per hour and so has to fight for paying his bills. But Leroy Hamilton is satisfied with his job, which he enjoys very much. Later in this conversation John asks Leroy if he was a member of the famous Hamilton family or even a successor of Alexander Hamilton, one of the Founding Fathers. Leroy explains that this is true but he never wanted just to be a person who is proud of his ancestors. He always wanted to lead a life of his own without always being compared to the family he comes from. At the end of act one and in the end of this talk, John asks Leroy if he is satisfied with his life. This makes Leroy explode. He hates people who feel superiour to the ones who have less money and influence.
3.3.2 Act Two
The second act starts with Karen and Patricia playing ping pong, which is a sign the reader that the two women are friends and know each other. The reader learns that Patricia hasn´t taken her pills für twenty one days and that she feels better without them. She even feels so well now that the thought of going home rises in her mind. She is the one who talks a lot in this scene. She comes to think about what she did to her family as she has left them for more than twenty years. She knows that she has made it very difficult for her husband as she was never the caring mother around at home. So she is now wondering whether to go home and change things. From the first time the reader gets to know Patricia she seems to be totally healthy and it is quite unclear why she is in this mental hospital. She tells Karen in this conversation that her pills also make her really sick and that she should try it without them, because Karen is the one who seems really ill, as she is not able to keep a thought and always swtiches the theme they have just discussed. Later in this talk she thinks about going home again. The reader learns that the members of Patricia´s family have committed suicide because they were disappointed of life. That is a thing her husband can not understand as he is satisfied with whatever live offers him.
Now Leroy enters the room and they start to talk. Leroy always had his own opinion about why Patricia has gone sick, and now he tells her: Everybody out of the her family was " ...automatically to go to the head of the line just because your name was Sorgenson. And life ins´t that way, so you got sick."
This is the real reason for Patricia being in the hospital: she expected a life full of whealth and richness just because of her name, but she has married a man who has another oppinion of life. Her family also shared this point of view: "No Yankee will ever be good enough for a Swedish girl." Leroy was told by Patricia´s father on their wedding day. So there is another conflict in her life: the conflict of the past and the presence.
In the past Yankees always were a kind of cruel to Swedish people, as they had to work with minimum wage for them, did real hard jobs and did not have the same rights as the Yankees had. However, Leroy is a person who lives in the presence and so he can not understand this way of thinking.
The next thing they talk about, is Leroy´s hardness to stay with a wife who was longer in hospital than at home. He says ".. I knew it was those damned pills, not you." He also replies to that question, that if there weren´t any kids in this marriage he probably would have gone.
During this conversation they again reach the theme of whether their lifes are satisfied or not and Patricia tells Leroy that his life is "...Beaten. Like it´s all gone by." Leroy now is really hurt by this and he realizes that the only problem Patricia ever had was an attitude problem. In her view he should have taken the chance he was given just by his name. But as he didn´t act this way, she was really confused because all her life in her family she had never known it in any other way.
After the Hamilton family now has cleared their biggest problem and Leroy prepares to play something on the banjo, Karen enters and she is wondering if she should dress up into the new costume her husband John brought along. Everybody in the room tells her to do so and they even convince her that she could dance to the music Leroy is going to perform, as she likes to dance.
As Karen has gone to dressing herself up, Patricia is talking to John and she tells him that he should give Karen her optimism back, so that she could enjoy her life again. Leroy is totally astonished as exactly this was the problem the Hamiltons had all the time. So this is the indirect proof for Patricia´s health as she realized the illness on other persons as well as on herself. Now Karen comes back, dressed up in her new costume, and starts to dance. She really feels fine until Patricia asks John if he is looking at her and her suddenly screams out "I am looking at her, goddammit!" This changes the whole situation and Karen falls back in her deep depression after her husband screamed at her. Karen tries to calm him down but does not succeed. So he leaves. Out of this situation Patricia has learned that she "... had nothing."
But she has just learned it after she saw how rude wifes are treated in other families, where perhaps money does not play such an important role because there is enough of it. The most important thing, however, is missing, the love and trust between married people. So Leroy and Patricia leave the hospital knowing that she really never was ill but just had a wrong view of her situation.
3.4 Apearences of the American Dream in "The last Yankee"
In Miller´s "The last Yankee" several signs of the American Dream do appear. The first sign is that Leroy Hamilton is a successor of the famous Hamilton family. So it would be clear for him to use his good and well - known name in order to make his life for him very easy as everybody would know and accept him. So, he wouldn´t have to work as much any more to make it to a lot of money because he has advantages through his name. Leroy is a person who tries to make the best out of his life without just looking at his ancestors. He has a normal paid job and he is satisfied with it. So he is a person living the American Dream because he uses his ways and means to let his way of the chance of personal fulfilment come true aund build up a lifestyle for himself he is content with.
The only person in the Hamilton family who is not satisfied is Patricia. She also comes out of a famous family, the Sorgenson - Family, but in here everybody used the name in order to keep the social standard they were used to. Not one of them really tried to build up something on his own and they all were proud of this fact, but not very happy. In the Sorgensons family several members commited suicide because they were depressed of life and they did not see any chance to change this situation.
It is obvious to see that the Sorgenson family did not interprete the American Dream right. They are convinced that it would be enough in life to have well known ancestors and that´s it.
However, this is not true and so they got depressed of life.
That is also why Patricia is in this mental hospital. She is a person who always thought you would need a certain social standard in order to enjoy her life. But her husband always had another idea of enjoying life. For him it was satisfying enough to have a job he liked, to have a family who loved him and cared for him. That´s all he needs to have a fulfiled life, but Patricia does not think so.
The next two characters who have to be examined about their behaviour towards the American Dream is family Frick.
John Frick is a typical member of the higher society: he is rich because he used to have his own business. That is why he feels superior about Leroy Hamilton, who never owned a business, but always was just a simple worker.
However, John Frick has the same problem like Leroy Hamilton, both do have their wifes treated in a mental hospital.
But the difference between the two is that Mr. Frick could affort a much better hospital, but he does not. This is worth questioning why he does not.
He thinks Karen would not realize the changed treatment and it would improve her situatuion, which surely would by a much better medical care. But he regards the cheapest one as sufficient enough for the person he seems to love.
The comparism between the two husbands shows something very interesting:
There is a difference between John and Leroy how they care about their wifes. John, who would be rich enough to give Karen the opportunity for a better hospital does not and Leroy, who is just able to pay the bills, gives his wife the best mental hospital he can affort.
So it is abvious to see that both have different views of what is important in their lifes.
Leroy regards the social backround as much more important than the fact of having much money. He feels that a working family is more important than any money, which he could certainly make by using his name.
John, on the other hand, thinks that money plays a much higher role in life and the social backround of a working family just is in second place.
The reader can find out that Leroy´s point of view is the right one because he and his wife Patricia find out that she had just an attidude problem towards her expectations from life. This is the only reason she was in the hospital. That she is healthy she realizes as she gets to know how rude Mr. Frick treats his wife and that she has really a caring husband at her side.