Edward Albee was born in 1928. Throughout his life he has written and directed some of the greatest plays in contemporary theatre, such as the famous and shocking comedy of ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. ‘ The play itself was first performed in New York in October of 1962, and it captured the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play. Ever since its debut the play has been widely praised and criticised. The play stunned and pleased American audiences, which seemed to provide a vital insight into American life. In 1961 John F.
Kennedy had just become the president of the United States and it was the decade leading up to 1962 when ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf’ was first premiered. It was the height of period when Americans in general stood behind the belief in the American Dream that hard work, courage, and determination would lead a nation to prosperity. In addition Edward Albee confirmed that the title of the play means “who’s afraid of the big bad wolf” or who’s afraid of living life without illusions. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Is set in a small American University on the East Coast.
It is concerned with the events of one night, during which two couples stay up drinking after a party. For both couples the quarrels and revelations of the night bring to a head a number of issues which had been unresolved in their respective relationships. The characters whose marriage is the main subject of the play is George and Martha. The unpromising relationship is held together in two ways. Firstly by quarrelling deliberately by tactic agreement, as a kind of game. Secondly, is by pretending they have a son and making imaginary plans.
Many critics perceive George and Martha’s relationship to be a disastrous one, filled with hate, fury and savage revenge. However, some readers like myself can detect a ‘positive core of feeling’ in their relationship that belies the superficial bitterness. In this essay my aim is to explore there two different critical perspectives of George and Martha;s multifgaceted relationship and to come to a conclusion whether the statement is true. Is their relationship a disastrous one, filled with hate, fury and savage revenge?
Or is it possible that some readers can detect a ‘positive core of feeling ‘between their couple, which keeps their love alive? At the beginning of the play in Act One, you can detect that their relationship is a disastrous one. As the couple have came home from a night out and already the arguments start. It is constant battle between them, both trying to get a victory over one another. Martha starts talking to George and becomes infuriated with him as he doesn’t know their answers to her questions. “George: Chicago! It’s called Chicago…. ” “Martha: Good grief! Don’t you know anything? “…. “George: …
Do you want me to go around all night braying at everybody, the way you do? ” “Martha (braying): I DON’T BRAY! ” Here Edward Albee uses capital letters, to define her anger at George. Throughout the play there is a lack of communication, as the shouting between them both symbolises this. Even when they do communicate, Martha never treats George as an equal. In the first part of the first act, the audience is shown the different ways in which Martha devalues him. First she remarks “You make me puke,” indicating how intolerable she finds him and then almost immediately she demands ” a great big sloppy kiss” from him.
This hints at the facts that she also wants him to be her lover but nothing else. As you can distinguish the arguments between George and Martha, shows the kind of relationship they have. It indicates also that a quarrelsome tone is habitual between them and that they criticise each others faults without restraint. Furthermore, at the beginning of Act Three, Martha tells Nick about her true feelings for George, despite appearances, he is the only man who has ever made her happy. “There is only one man in my life who has ever …