The Play

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

Scene 1 of the conversational The Woods opens at dusk with the play’s two characters, Ruth and Nick, seated on the porch of Nick’s summer cottage in the woods, where the two lovers have come for a weekend getaway. Ruth, animated by the atmosphere and encouraged by Nick’s “Tell me,” comments on the environment’s natural denizens: seagulls, herons, and crickets. She talks about the ozone layer, pirates, and bears, noting, “We don’t have to be afraid. Because we have each other.”

The less talkative Nick, who is not afraid, is nevertheless angered by her “understanding.” He barely listens to what has become nonstop commentary, soliloquies punctuated with clichélike truisms such as “nothing lasts forever” and “things change.” He wants her affection more than her conversation. At her persistence, he relates for her his father’s story of accidentally falling into a hole “during the War” and ironically finding the man he had been sent to search for. Suddenly, Ruth stops listening. She wants Nick to take her inside the cottage and make love to her, adding that she bought him a present. Nick agreeably promises to finish his story as the two go inside.

At the beginning of scene 2, night has fallen, and Ruth, who has had trouble sleeping, is sitting on the porch. Nick joins her, verbalizing that he is upset because his watch has stopped and he does not know the time. He is also worried about the oncoming rain...

(The entire section is 558 words.)