Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? | Study Guide

Edward Albee

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Course Hero. "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Study Guide." July 28, 2016. Accessed November 23, 2017. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Whos-Afraid-of-Virginia-Woolf/.

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Course Hero, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Study Guide," July 28, 2016, accessed November 23, 2017, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Whos-Afraid-of-Virginia-Woolf/.

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? | Act 1, Fun and Games (Section 3) | Summary

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Summary

The doorbell rings and George cautions Martha not to "start in on the bit about the kid." She replies, "What do you take me for?" He prods her and she responds that she'll talk about the kid if she wants to talk about it. They are squabbling about it when Nick and Honey arrive at the door. Uncomfortable at George and Martha's fighting, Nick tells Honey that they shouldn't have come.

Analysis

George's warning to Martha not to "start in on the bit about the kid" foreshadows that they will talk about the kid. It also suggests that the "kid" must be an important and sensitive issue, or George would not have warned Martha to avoid discussing it. This issue will spark the play's climax.

Nick is the name of the 28-year-old biology professor in the play. Literary critics such as Michael Adams have suggested that Albee named Nick after Nikita Khrushchev (1894–1971), the leader of the Soviet Union at the time the play was written. This naming reminds the audience of the Cold War context, where the Soviet Union and the United States were engaged in psychological warfare—not unlike George and Martha, perpetuated through the arms and space races. Like the Nick of Albee's play, Nikita was perceived by many as amoral, cold, calculating, and corrupt. In these ways the play functions as a political allegory of great relevance for an audience in the 1960s.

Honey doesn't even rate a name; rather, she gets a common nickname that could be used for any person, male or female, or even a total stranger. This suggests that she is merely an appendage to Nick, functioning as a generic wife—thin, blonde, somewhat dim—rather than a person in her own right.

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