Study Guide

Honey in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

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Honey is the mousy, slim-hipped wife of Nick. She's definitely not the brightest bulb in the bunch. Almost all of the conversation that occurs over the course of the play is over her head. Albee milks a lot of humor from her constant dimwitted comments. One example is her response to George's jabs at Martha. George says, "Martha is the only true pagan on the Eastern seaboard." Honey, not realizing it's a joke, comments to Nick, "Oh, that's nice. Isn't that nice dear?" (1.660-1.661). Another good example comes after George's long tongue-in-cheek diatribe about how Nick plans to take over the world. Once again, Honey takes George's words at face value and complains to her husband, "I don't see why you want to do all those things, dear. You never told me" (1.607).

Honey is also unfailingly polite. No matter how mean George and Martha are, she manages to keep a smile on her face. Perhaps, her conservative upbringing by her preacher father has something to do with this. Honey's over-politeness could also be representative of the 50s mindset that still had its claws in America by the early 60s. Honey, like most of American society during that time, is very concerned with things appearing nice even if they aren't. By taking Honey's willful denial to such an absurd level, Albee seems to making a comment on the fakeness of American society as a whole. It is probably Honey's inability to deal honestly with the harshness of her situation which drives her drink brandy for the entire play.

During the "exorcism" of George and Martha's imaginary child all, we get is a peek under Honey's carefully crafted mask. She cries and yells, "I want a child. I want a baby" (3.362). This isn't the first time she's expressed this desire. Nick only married her because he thought she was pregnant. It turns out, however, that it was a hysterical pregnancy. She puffed up like she was pregnant, but really it was all in her mind.

In earlier versions or the play, Albee had it revealed that Honey had been taking birth control pills. This fact isn't present in the newest edition, which he revised for the 2005 Broadway revival. This is a shame, because it makes Honey's feelings toward motherhood a lot more conflicted, and turns her into a more complex character. In the most recent version, her childlessness isn't explained. Perhaps, we're meant to believe it's just because she's slim-hipped and possibly barren. If this is the case, Albee may have made the cut to heighten the parallels between Nick and Honey and the barren George and Martha.

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