Wendy Wasserstein’s play Tender Offer is a dialogue between a father, Paul and his daughter, Lisa. Paul is too wrapped up in his business and work and never takes the time to talk to his daughter and find out what is going on in her life. When the play begins, Lisa and Paul do not seem to have a relationship at all, but we find in the end that their relationship changes and will be better in the future. This dialogue allows Paul and Lisa to share their feelings about each other for the first time, thus changing their relationship from dysfunctional to normal.
The play begins with Lisa dancing around by herself in a dance studio waiting for her father to pick her up. When her father arrives, although he seems happy to her, he is in a rush to get home. He asks her how she did in her show, but in my opinion, the ques-tion didn’t sound sincere. The author makes it quite obvious in the opening of the play that Paul was not involved in his daughter’s life.
I feel that Paul’s character is arrogant and preoccupied. I believe that he was not fulfilling his duty and responsibilities as a father. In the opening of the play, Lisa was very upset about the fact that she could not find her leg warmers. And Paul, instead of comforting her and helping her find them, he scorns her saying “Where do you think you left them? Well try to remember, Lisa. We don’t have all night.” (p. 1303) He also seems to be more interested in his work than Lisa. In the beginning of the play, Lisa says to Paul, “Why were you late?” He replies, “I was in a business meeting. I’m sorry.” She then says, “You shouldn’t make appointments with me unless you know you’re going to come.” (p. 1303) This quote truly exemplifies that Paul is not fulfilling his duties as a fa-ther. He is completely unaware of how his actions affected his daughter.
During the first half of the play, Lisa wants to have a conversation but her father doesn’t. He seems as though he could not be bothered with her and that he was not inter-ested in what she had to say. When she starts telling him about a movie she saw on tele-vision and he tells her that she is being maudlin. When she asks what maudlin means he says, “Sentimental, soppy. Frequently used by children who make things up to get atten-tion.” (p.1304) Notice Paul’s choice of words; they are a prime example of Paul’s arro-gance.
There is easily a much more pleasant way of stating his opinion. When Lisa real-izes that he wasn’t interested in what she had to say, she then began to tell him that she had an itch on her leg and asked him to scratch it for her. Instead of being sympathetic for Lisa, Paul tells her that she is procrastinating. He tells her that he is really tired and wants to go home and eat dinner. She then says to him, “Why don’t you want to talk to me?” He answers, “I do want to talk to you. I promise when we get home we’ll have a nice talk.” (p. 1305) Then later in the conversation he says, “Honey we’ll talk on the weekend, I promise” (p. 1305) I feel that this quote clearly illustrates that Paul is preoc-cupied and cannot be bothered with what Lisa has to say.
As the conversation progress however, there is a change in Paul’s character. His personality changes from arrogant to caring and compassionate. Paul comes to the reali-zation that because he is not an integral part in his daughter’s life, he is missing out on everything that is going on in her life. He tries to change his attitude and wants to have that conversation with Lisa. They begin to talk and although it is not clearly stated, their relationship begins to change for the better.
This play demonstrates that anything can change, but you have to be willing to look inside yourself and admit that you are part of the problem. I commend Paul for be-ing able to look inside of him and see that for the most part he was the source of the prob-lem. I feel that it as very honorable of Paul to admit this problem and try to change for the better. I believe that Lisa and Paul’s relationship will be better in the future although it will require much effort from the two of them.