Themes and Meanings

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

A political play of ideas, A Walk in the Woods is so full of profound political commentary and timely social relevance that one might expect such mundane elements as plot and character to be mere scaffolding on which to hang the more important message of the play. However, the primary theme of the play is not the danger of nuclear weapons or the horror of war, but the importance of friendship, a friendship depicted through the mundane elements of plot and character.

The negotiations in which Botvinnik and Honeyman are involved come to no conclusion during the course of the play. A presidential election takes place between acts, but there is no real change in the international political situation. The conflict around which the play revolves is, instead, the personal one between two men, one seeking friendship, the other seeking to maintain a more formal relationship. However, as Botvinnik proclaims, “Formality is simply anger with its hair combed.”

Honeyman initially objects to wasting time by taking a walk in the woods. “Making friends is a fine thing, but not on someone else’s time, so to speak.” Honeyman believes that talking must have a point. Yet, talking is the point. As Honeyman himself eventually comes to understand, “We have to start with the bare fact that there are two of us here.” In talking to one another, both sides find recognition: “We look across the table, and we see ourselves.”...

(The entire section is 586 words.)