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One of the most important themes of Spike Heels is power. Each of the characters has a form of power and attempts to wield it, with results that are not what the character was hoping for. Andrew’s power is as a teacher—he is a college professor, and taking the role of the teacher in his relationships is natural to him—and he uses this power to ‘‘mold’’ Georgie into a different person. Although he wants to feel that he is simply helping her, at one point in the play his true feelings come out: ‘‘I made you better than that,’’ he tells Georgie. Edward also has power as a lawyer and as a boss, and he uses it crudely in an attempt to get Georgie to sleep with him. Georgie has little power, she feels, and therefore uses her sexual attractiveness (symbolized by her spike heels) and her foul mouth to establish her power. Lydia, the most powerless character of the play, in the outside world would have a great deal of power due to the fact that she is from an old, established family and presumably has a great deal of money.

The irony of the play is that each character’s use of power backfires. Andrew wants to establish an enduring relationship with Georgie through his tutoring and, later, wants that relationship to become romantic, but, by laying bare the mechanism of his power over her, he loses her. Edward’s use of power—his sexual harassment—backfires, and he must use another form of power (his ability to grant her a raise) to win her back. When Georgie tries to use her sexual power with Andrew and Edward, they both reject her. And Lydia’s only exercise of power, her arrival at Georgie’s apartment, gains her nothing and may have helped in her losing her fiancée.

Male and Female Roles
At the heart of the play’s plot are the differing roles that men and women play in society. In this play, as is often true in society at large, the men have the power and the women are acted upon by that power. Andrew takes the role of the father or teacher figure, directing Georgie’s life—telling her what to read, how to talk, even where to work. Edward plays the role of boss and of sexual predator. He is aggressive, insulting, and demanding. By contrast, the women are acted upon. Georgie realizes halfway through the play that Andrew and Edward were treating her like a commodity that they trade between themselves—Andrew gives Edward permission to come on to Georgie, and Edward seems to feel that Andrew’s permission is more important than Georgie’s interest or even acquiescence. Lydia, as well, is acted upon—like Georgie she is traded between the men, and she is also subject to the approval of her (presumably male-dominated) family.

The genders’ differing relations to sexuality are also important themes in Spike Heels, and this difference is nowhere better illustrated than in Rebeck’s use of the symbol of the spike-heel shoes. At the very beginning of the play, Georgie storms into Andrew’s apartment, complaining about how uncomfortable the shoes are. She argues to Andrew that the only reason women wear such impractical shoes is that they make women’s legs more attrac tive. Yet for all of her feminist consciousness of this, she still wears them because she feels that being sexually attractive is her only way to have power. She must embrace the role of temptress that the shoes give her in order to have any power. Andrew, who wants to remake her and diminish her sexuality, tells her to stop wearing them, but later in the play he admits that he, too, finds the shoes attractive. Lydia also examines the shoes curiously. She does not rely on her sexuality to obtain power, and both disdains and envies women who do. ‘‘I guess you don’t wear them for comfort,’’ she tells Georgie. ‘‘You wear them for other reasons. You wear them because they make your legs look amazing.’’

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