In Barefoot in the Park, what is the dramatic meaning? 

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The dramatic meaning in Simon's work is that marriage and relationships can only work when individuals are willing to be flexible.

The dramatic meaning behind  Barefoot in the Park is seen through changes in character.  Simon is able to show two people who enter marriage in a state of supposed bliss.  Essentially, they are following the cliches of marriage.  They don't really understand or grasp all that is involved in it.  The meaning in Simon's drama is to show how characters navigate the difficult terrain in marriage to "make it work."

Simon displays Corie and Paul as fundamentally different. She is vivacious.  He is reserved.  She "feels." He "thinks."  They both get married and believe that their life together is going to be wonderful. Corie's mother recognizes how the young couple will be challenged:  “You jump into life...Paul is like me. He looks first.”  They don't understand that they cannot be who they were before marriage.  The institution changes people.  This is evident during a fight where their differences seem to be insurmountable:

No.  Because there isn't the least bit of adventure in you.  You know what you are, Paul?  You're a watcher.  There are watchers in this world, and there are doers.  And the watchers sit around watching the doers do.  Well, tonight you watched and I did.

The dramatic meaning of Simon's work is to see how a relationship between "a watcher" and "a doer" can actually grow.  Simon concludes that relationships develop when people move past narrowly clinging to their own identities and accept someone else's into their own.  For example, when Paul walks "barefoot in the park," Corie realizes that their relationship can work. Examining this progression becomes a significant part of the drama's meaning.


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