John Christmann Analysis of Sure Thing

In this play, there seems to be an obvious undertone which I want to explore. On the surface, this play is about a date where every time a person gives the wrong type of response, a bell rings and the person has to reformulate the response. It is a comedy, and has its obvious comedic tone; however, this tone is merely superficial in my view. This story, on a deeper level, seems to be about how we perceive ourselves in social situations. The bell ringing may represent the socialization of the person speaking. More specifically, when the person speaks, there is a sort of societal mirror which the person uses to check the words coming out of the person’s mouth. This societal mirror is, usually, the other (the person in front of you). The societal norms are enforced by the social mirror reflecting the speaker’s presence back into the head of the speaker, who will check his or her behavior accordingly. This is a very simplistic explanation of the mirror theory of socialization, but it is appropriate for understanding this play. The bell, as I said earlier, symbolizes the societal mirror – the social actor who reflects the actions and words back at the speaker/actor as a check on social norms. The social actor (the bell) acts as a checking mechanism based on given societal norms (standards of dating) which are then sent back as a quasi-feedback loop to the speaker/actor. When the person speaking gets the reflection, he or she reformulates the actions accordingly (changes the phrasing upon hearing the bell). So, this play is a comedic rendering of the way we are socialized in a given scenario – this scenario being the cultural stage of dating.

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