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Themes

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, first performed in the early 1960s, was a reflection of its time. The interpersonal battles between the characters of the play reflect the Cold War tensions that plagued America. It touches on everything from the death of the American Dream to fears of nuclear holocaust. (See "Symbols, Imagery, Allegory" for more details.)

Questions About Visions of America

  1. Does George and Martha's abusive marriage reflect the corroding values of 60s America, or does it show what was always under the surface? Is it a true portrait of the American family?
  2. How are America's fears of nuclear holocaust present in the play? What allusions do you notice to mass devastation?
  3. Can the conflicts between the characters be seen as a metaphor for war? Why of why not?
  4. Is it fair to say that Nick and Honey represent the Soviet Union, while George and Martha represent America? Do you think the play supports this theory?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

George's failures represent an overall failure of the American Dream.

The ending of the play suggests that there's hope for America, if it can only learn to look at itself honestly.

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