Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
by Edward Albee

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Analysis

Literary Devices in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

This play is chock full of baby images. It seems like Albee slips one in at least every other page. First of all, George and Martha call each other "baby" all throughout the play. Martha also calls...

Setting

Albee gives no description in his stage directions as to what George and Martha's living room might look like. Martha gives us a pretty big clue, though, not long after she first enters the stage....

Genre

The play is a drama because, well it's a play – a piece of literature that can only be fully appreciated when presented before a live audience. More specifically, we dub it a tragicomedy, bec...

Tone

George and Martha spend most of the play viciously attacking each other. Words fly like daggers across the room and almost always draw blood. Characters get to say things like, "I swear…if yo...

Writing Style

With Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, as well as some of his earlier plays like The Zoo Story, Edward Albee succeeded in combining two types of drama: realism and absurdism. First let's talk about...

What's Up With the Title?

Albee never tells us exactly what the title is supposed to mean, and no one named Virginia Woolf ever shows up in the play. This all leads us to ask just who is this Virginia Woolf person? What doe...

What's Up With the Ending?

The main action of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? centers around the vicious battle of wills between George and Martha. Martha is a ruthless opponent, and George doesn't get the upper-hand until n...

Tough-o-Meter

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is pretty easy to get into, especially if you have a dark sense of humor. The play can be just as funny as it is emotionally brutal. These seemingly contradictory in...

Plot Analysis

George and Martha are trapped in a bitter world of illusion.We begin with two people who have been trying to tear each other down for years. They hide behind illusions – like their imaginary...

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis: Comedy

Everyone is trapped in illusion.George and Martha welcome Nick and Honey into their world of darkness. Wicked words fly back and forth to hilarious and destructive effect. No one is sure what is tr...

Three Act Plot Analysis

George and Martha welcome their young guests, Nick and Honey, for a night of insult, humiliation, and shattered illusions. The action of the play is driven by George and Martha's endless need to at...

Trivia

Edward Albee goes to see a movie on the opening night of his plays. (Source)The play's working title was The Exorcism.Edward Albee is named after his adopted grandfather, who was a powerful vaudevi...

Steaminess Rating

There's no actual sex in this play. However, Martha attempts some heavy petting on stage with her husband George, but he rejects her. We see her blatantly make out with Nick. When the two go upstai...

Allusions

Penguin Island (1.354)Gomorrah, from Genesis 18 and Genesis 19 (1.354)Walpurgisnacht (2.1)Bette Davis (1.18)Chicago (1.25)Alice Faye (1.28)Joseph Cotton (1.32)

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