Marriage is a central theme in Barefoot in the Park by Neil Simon. Paul and Corie are newlyweds; however, they have different personalities. The author reveals the struggles that many married couples go through. Some couples find it hard to sacrifice what they love for their spouses, which is the case in the play. Corie finds Paul boring and predictable. Therefore, they temporarily break up because of their differences.
Another theme revealed in the play is gender roles. The play shows the gender roles that were present in society at the time it was written. Paul is a lawyer, and Corie is a housewife. Corie is expected to play the role of wife, which is to cook, clean, and be a homemaker. On the other hand, Paul is the sole breadwinner and is expected to pay the bills.
Love is another theme that is highlighted in the play. Paul and Corie fall in-love and get married. However, they knew each other for barely a week. Their impulsive decision to marry sets the foundation for a rocky relationship. The author reveals how love can lead one into making impulsive decisions.
Barefoot in the Park is one of Neil Simon’s early attempts to deal with the individual not only in conflict with the person he most loves but also in a love-hate relationship with city life. What Corie and Paul, as well as Mrs. Banks and Velasco, must learn is that living with other people involves concessions.
The play opens with an empty apartment, a setting which suggests that there is a chance of establishing a home without prior conditions or preconceptions. Being human, the characters carry their baggage with them. The baggage is not simply the boxes and luggage which Corie and Paul bring to the apartment but also the emotional baggage that is brought to any relationship.
Corie is the sprite, the free spirit. “You jump into life,” her mother tells her. “Paul is like me. He looks first.” This conflict is the heart of the play: Paul’s conservative nature...
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- Critical Essays