Bittersweet relationships in "Company"

1670 Words7 Pages
The idea of a paradoxical life is one that would baffle many, believing anything that challenges the prearranged to be unnecessary and a hassle. Through the musical Company, Stephen Sondheim manages to integrate paradox into his writing, using it not only as a form of mass entertainment, but also as an effective way to showcase the complications found in life and how the truth is not always clear or easy for us to understand. Company is a seemingly simple musical about a group of friends, with a complex theme of change and realizations. It is apparent throughout the play that the plot is not what defines the development of ideas and the characters but, rather, the songs themselves and the paradox expressed in them. Company focuses on marriage and its many varying points of view; from those that find themselves happily married, those who divorce and enter a happier relationship with each other, to those who are not ready for marriage in any way, shape or form. The concept of paradox focuses mainly on marriage as well, making it the center of everybody’s lives, even for those who do not consciously wish to marry. Robert questions Harry if he’s ever sorry he got married only to receive a more puzzling answer than he would have expected. Harry and the other husbands melodically explain that “you’re always sorry, you’re always grateful” (Sondheim 32), referring to the way marriage is not always what the couple might have expected or specifically desired in the beginning, but has now contributed to some of the best, and definitely some of the worst, days of their lives. “You’re regretful-happy/Why look for answers where none occur?/You always are what you always were/Which has nothing to do with,/All to do with her.” (Sondheim 33) At this point, Robert is not able to grasp the idea behind the husbands’ joy in this situation, despite all of the imperfections
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