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Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?


Submitted By vlee7
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What is a relationship? A relationship is a connection between two or more people. In our lives, we have many different kinds of relationships with our family, our friends and our neighbors. A romantic or sexual relationship is a bit different from other relationships and it can be wonderful, fulfilling and fun, but it can also be stressful or complicated. A healthy relationship could be influence with many different things but the five most important things that a good relationship must have is trust, communication, respect, equity and love. I want to talk about a play that involves a relationship that brings to the forefront the ineffectiveness of a make- believe world. The play defines the "anxieties" and "fears" of two couples "who are born in conflict between private needs and public values. The play is called Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf? The play Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf? is a 1962 play that was written by Edward Franklin Albee. Albee was born on March 12th 1928 in Washington D.C. He was adopted by Reed A. and Frances Cotta Albee. While Albee attends Lawrenceville School in New Jersey, he wrote his first play Aliqueen in 1940s. He published one of his poems “Eighteen” in 1954. A year later his play “Schism” appeared in Choate Literary Magazine. After his graduation he moved to Greenwich Village and tried odd jobs as an office boy, a salesperson, and a barman. He continue writing plays that were staged much later while being supported by a trust fund established by his maternal grandmother. He wrote The Zoo Story in 1958 and it staged at the Schiller Theater Werstatt, Berlin in September 1959. The Death of Bessie Smith was produced at Schlosspark Theater Berlin in 1960. The American Dream was staged in New York at York Playhouse in January 1961. This play ran for 360 performances. The same year Albee received Loa D'Annuzio Award for original playwriting and also a Fulbright professorship to Wurzburf University, Germany. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was produced at Billy Rose Theater in October 1962 in New York. It had 664 performances and Albee received the Drama Critics Award and Tony Award for this play. A Delicate Balance won him his first Pulitzer Prize and was staged at Martin Beck Theater, New York in September 1966, it ran for 132 performances. Albee won his second Pulitzer Prize for Seascape. This play opened in January 1975 at Sam S. Shubert Theater, New York and was directed by Albee himself. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was revival in 1976. In 1980 The Lady from Dubuque was performed at the Morosco Theater in New York. Two years later, The Man Who had Three Arms was staged. In 1987 Albee directed Marriage Play at Vienna's English Theater in Vienna. In 1994 he received a third Pulitzer Prize for Three Tall Women. Edward Franklin Albee currently lives in Houston, Texas where he teaches writing in the English Department at University of Houston.
The play is set in the living room of a house located on the campus of a New England college in the town of New Carthage. The living room is set with chairs, a table, portraits, and a bar stocked with liquor and glasses. The purpose of this stage setting is to "create the illusion of total realism" so that the abnormality of life depicted in the play will have greater impact. The fact that the play is set on a college campus, the supposed seat of learning and discipline, gives further irony to the play. The style of the play is modern. The form of the play is a sense of sarcastic bitterness with a preposterous sense of humor pervades the play. It is what is called "black" humor. Dark and caustic, the play is funny and tragic.
Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf? is set on the campus of a university in New England. It opens with George and Martha, the two main characters, coming home from a party at Martha’s father’s house. Both of them care deeply for each other, but events have turned their marriage into a nasty battle between two disenchanted, cynical enemies. The two came back home at two o’clock in the morning and are still expecting guests that Martha invited from the party. The two guests were the new math professor and his wife. Of course, this new, young professor, Nick, actually works in the biology department. He and his wife, Honey, walk into a brutal social situation between Martha and George. In the first act, "Fun and Games," Martha and George try to fight and humiliate each other in new, inventive ways. As they peel away each other's pretenses and self-respect, George and Martha use Honey and Nick as pawns, transforming their guests into an audience to witness humiliation, into levers for creating jealousy, and into a means for expressing their own sides of their mutual story. In the second act, "Walpurgisnacht," these games get even nastier. The evening turns into a nightmare. George and Martha even attack Honey and Nick, attempting to force them to reveal their dirty secrets and true selves. Finally, in the last act, "The Exorcism," everyone's secrets have been revealed and purged. Honey and Nick go home, leaving Martha and George to try to rebuild their shattered marriage.
In conclusion, the play attacks American optimism and the privileging of progress and scientific thinking over more humanistic ideas. It questions the American way of life where sentiments and relationships have lost meaning and where life has become one long game of competition where agonistic relationships are built on false accusations and spiteful indictments, but have no real weight to them. Relationships are lacking in respect and compassion because the world does not value these once-important qualities. The play attempts to draw attention to the modern way of life, which is full of tensions, incompatibilities and divided loyalties. Human emotions and interactions in the contemporary world are superficial. Humans have isolated themselves from each other by escaping into playing games and creating fantasies that only reinforce their loneliness and despair.

Works Cited
Albee, E.. N.p.. Web. 21 Jun 2013. .
"IBDB: The Official Source for Broadway Information." IBDB: The Official Source for
"Watch Featured Movies." Latest Movies RSS. Mike Nichols, 21 June 1966. Web. 20 June 2013.
"Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" Shmoop. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 June 2013.

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