Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Visions of America Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Act.Line). Every time a character talks counts as one line, even if what they say turns into a long monologue.
George: Be careful, Martha…I'll rip you to pieces.
Martha: You aren't man enough…you haven't the guts.
George: Total war?
Martha: Total. (2.673-2.676)
Throughout the play George and Martha's relationship seems to parallel Cold War tensions. During that time both the U.S. and the U.S.S.R had thousands of nuclear missiles aimed at each other. Here Martha and George agree to the mutually assured destruction that both Americans and Soviets feared.
George: "And the west, encumbered by crippling alliances, and hardened with a morality too rigid to accommodate itself to the swing of events, must…eventually…fall." (2.191)
When George reads this excerpt from a history text out loud at the end of Act 2, it's a major clue that just maybe this play is about more than a bickering couple. It's also about the crumbling of nations.
Martha: The gelding's all upset. Ha, ha, ha, HA!
Nick: You…you swing wild, don't you? […]
Martha: HAH! I'm a Gatling gun.
Nick: (In wonder) Aimless…butchery. Pointless. (3.62-3.66)
The use of war imagery here is no accident; Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? uses interpersonal conflicts to examine international ones.