Edward Albee

Written by Edward Albee, is a play that takes us into one evening of the lives
of one couple entertaining another. This play has very dramatic characters that
are very diverse and dynamic. Albee explores the dangerous fun and games played
by one married couple and how they use two seemingly innocent people as pawns in
their games. By the end of the night, a stunning revelation is revealed that
threatens both couples\' emotional sanity. The play is soaked in imagery and
above all symbolism that Albee uses to portray and dismantle the perfect

American dream. Edward Albee was born in Washington, D.C. on March 12, 1928. Two
weeks later he was adopted by Reed and Frances Albee and taken to live in the
family home in Westchester, New York. Albee\'s adoptive father owned a nationwide
chain of vaudeville theaters, which meant that young Edward got much early
exposure to theater personalities. Albee\'s childhood was very comfortable. He
had many servants, tutors, riding lessons, winters in Miami, summers sailing on
the sound and an inexhaustible wardrobe housed in a closet that was as big as a
room. His father was believed to be dominated by his wife, which is a very
evident in, Who\'s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? In the play, Martha is very
domineering and controlling of the meek and suppressed George. Albee attended
the Choate school from 1944 to 1946, when he enrolled at Trinity College, a
small liberal arts institution in Hartford , Connecticut. (Burns 2523) His stay
there was brief, but he gained some dramatic experience playing the role of
characters in plays. Over the years, Albee has introduced thirteen plays to the

American stage. He is an important figure in the American theater no only for
his works, but also for his efforts to introduce new opinions. (Albee ii) In

Albee\'s own words, his plays are "an examination of the American Scene, an
attack on the substitution of artificial for real values in our society, a
condemnation of complacency, cruelty, and emasculation and vacuity, a stand
against the fiction that everything in this slipping land of ours is
peachy-keen." (Flasch 283) The title of the play (Virginia Woolf) is the
name of a famous British novelist who went insane and drowned herself. The title
of the play is also related to the nursery rhyme, "The three little
pigs." When the characters of the play are drunk, they go around singing
"Who\'s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" much like "Who\'s afraid of the
big, bad wolf?" The play consists of four characters. George is a
middle-aged professor of history in a small New England who is married to the
daughter of the president of the college. Martha is George\'s wife, seven years
his senior. She is a very domineering woman who goes between loving and hating
her husband throughout the play. Nick is a new addition to the small faculty who
is young and very ambitious. Honey is Nick\'s wife. She is very timid and
childlike. There are several themes in the play that often overlap and support
one another in ways that make the play very complex. The theme of truth and
illusion is apparent in the play. George and Martha have to face the fact that
the imaginary child that they have created and that possibly holds their
marriage together must now be destroyed. In addition, the "truth"
behind each character seems to show itself. The loud and vulgar Martha is really
vulnerable and needs to be protected by the outside world. George, who seems
passive at first, is the one who finally takes control of his and Martha\'s
lives. Nick, the "stud" turns out to be impotent in bed with Martha.

That leaves Honey, the seemingly simple minded girl has been deviously using
birth control to prevent pregnancy. This is the plays most important theme: that
people today have been forced to create illusions for themselves because reality
has become too difficult and painful to face. A very important part of this play
is the symbolism involved. On one level, George and Martha portray the American
dream gone wrong. Their imaginary child is shown to us as all of their
unsuccessful hopes and dreams. On another level George and Martha are chosen to
symbolize George and Martha Washington as the founding parents of our country,
whose child (America) has died because of all the greed and cruelty in the world
and the greed and cruelty they have shown each other. Daniel McDonald stated
that, "A more honest or moral playwright does not exist. And if what Albee
is doing is giving us a "sentimentalized"