What is an analysis of the character Corie Bratter in Barefoot in the Park? What is her objective, and what are the tactics she uses to get what she wants? Does she get it in the end?
Barefoot in the Park is a play written by playwright Neil Simon in 1963. It concerns the lives of newlyweds Paul and Corie Bratter, who have just come back from their honeymoon and moved into a small New York apartment. Paul is a conservative young lawyer who appears to be more concerned with his career than with married life. While he is out at work, Corie is left with the task of setting up their home. Corie is described as “Lovely, young, and full of hope for the future.”
Corie is an impulsive, enthusiastic, and social character. She will act on things rather than think about them first and is therefore constantly active. She decorates the apartment, runs up and down the five flights of stairs, and enjoys meeting her neighbors. This is in contrast to her husband, Paul, who is unemotional, level-headed, and a bit of a loner. These differences between them cause conflict, and Corie’s optimism is tested. While Paul gives more of his attention to his job than to Corie, she says:
I just want him to know how much I love him…And that I’m going to make everything here exactly the way he wants it…I’m going to fix the hole in the skylight…and the leak in the closet…And I’m going to put in a bathtub and if he wants I’ll even carry him up the stairs every night…
However, due to her childlike nature, these conflicts and insecurities about her marriage finally lead her to consider divorce. But her childlike emotional outbursts only make Paul even more sensible and practical.
By the end of the play, Corie begins to appreciate Paul’s practical qualities, while Paul demonstrates that he too can be playful as they walk barefoot in the park together.
Corrie (a role originated by Elizabeth Ashley) is a helpless optimist. She is full of hope for the future, has a heathy sense of humor, and thinks her marriage is nearly perfect. She is a childlike character who clearly wants to have things her way, but is so agreeable that she seems very easy-going and undemanding.
But as many newlyweds find, she realizes she and her husband may have some problems to work out. For all of Corrie's sense of adventure, Paul is cautious; for her sociability, he is more of a loner; for her sense of fun, he is a bit of a stick in the mud. She uses her humor and her powers of manipulation to try and get Paul to see things her way, but when they argue, the only way she can force him to see things her way and give in a bit is to threaten to leave. Her extremes of behavior show she can be childish, but by the end of the play, using Neil Simon's common theme of role reversal, both she and Paul learn to appreciate each other's flaws and strengths.
Corrie is an open-minded, fun-loving spirit who does not operate according to a script. Even when she moves into a dingy, tiny apartment with her new husband, Paul, she is enthusiastic and sees the apartment's possibilities. Her goal is to live a free, unscripted, adventurous life filled with love, which she hopes to find with her new husband. She also tries to fix up her aging mother with the crazy man who lives in their building. Her hope is that she and her loved ones can find romance and adventure, and her tactics are to be somewhat forceful and to make people into something that they are not (for example, she wants her staid husband to be a free spirit). Her tactics enable her to experience some successes, such as her mother's blossoming romance with Corrie's neighbor, as well as some failures, such as her fights with her new husband. In the end, she must recognize the value of her husband's more cautious nature in their new life together.