Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Edward Albee

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

From the opening of the front door at 2 o’clock in the morning, to the final knock-down-and-drag-out battle hours later, the events of this play sweep the audience along in a maelstrom of savage humor and emotion.

George, a history professor in his 40’s and Martha, his somewhat older wife, have returned from a party with her father, the president of the college at which George teaches. Nick and Honey, a young instructor and his wife, join them for after-party drinks. The rest of the drama centers on the confrontations that occur among these four characters.

There is much talk about George and Martha’s son, who is to be twenty-one the next day. Eventually, however, it becomes clear that the son is fictitious, the product of a perverse game that George and Martha have played during the years of their turbulent marriage. It also becomes evident that although they quarrel violently, they are just as violently dependent upon each other. So, although Martha tries to cheat on George with Nick, and they are often cruel to each other, in the end they are tied by bonds that can be broken only by death.

Nick and Honey have their own secrets, including the fact that Honey trapped Nick into marriage. They are four hurt and vulnerable people, who wound each other because they have nothing better to do. As the four characters continue to drink and challenge each other, more protective layers are stripped away. Finally, each of them stands...

(The entire section is 517 words.)