A Delicate Balance: A Play Topics for Further Study
by Edward Albee

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Topics for Further Study

(Drama for Students)

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Although Albee’s A Delicate Balance has often been described in realist terms, several critics point out absurdist elements in the play (such as the abstract fear that drives Edna and Harry out of their house). Do research on both the theories of realism and absurdism; then examine the play and write a report on examples of both of these theories and how Albee uses them.

One of the most disparaging societal elements for young people of the late 1950s was the concept of conformism. The 1950s gave birth to mass-produced, suburban housing in which one or two building designs were used to develop whole neighborhoods, eliminating a sense of uniqueness and individuality. Conformism has also been partially blamed for the spread of the anticommunist paranoia of McCarthyism. Write a research paper on the concept of conformism, providing current examples of it in the United States. Compare the 1950s with your generation. What elements of conformism exist today? How might conformism be used in a positive way? What are some of its negative aspects?

Albee has stated that Samuel Beckett more than any other playwright influenced Albee’s writing. Read one of Beckett’s plays (Happy Days or Waiting for Godot might be good choices), and then compare Beckett’s style of writing, his choice of themes, and his characters to those found in Albee’s A Delicate Balance.

Alcohol is used quite liberally throughout this play. Research alcoholism in the United States, and write a paper on the effects of alcohol both on the person who abuses it and on their families. Then conclude your paper with an analysis of how alcohol affects each of the play’s characters.