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Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Edward Albee

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Course Hero. "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Study Guide." Course Hero. 28 July 2016. Web. 18 Jan. 2017. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Whos-Afraid-of-Virginia-Woolf/>.

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Course Hero. (2016, July 28). Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved January 18, 2017, from 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 January 18, 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 January 18, 2017, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Whos-Afraid-of-Virginia-Woolf/.

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? | Act 1, Fun and Games (Section 7) | Summary
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Summary

Martha tells Nick and Honey that she is six years older than George. She attacks George for not being the leader she had imagined he was when she married him. She pushes George so far that he breaks one of the liquor bottles against the side of the bar. Martha taunts him because the liquor cost money and George's salary is low. George drops the bottle on the floor.

As Martha verbally attacks him, George sings "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" Their voices overlap. Drunk, Nick and Honey join in the singing. Honey goes to the bathroom to vomit as Act 1 ends.

Analysis

For some people it is acceptable that a husband be older than his wife, even significantly older, but not that a wife be older than her husband. This was especially true when the play was written. Albee uses this cultural belief to show the subtle shifts of power in George and Martha's relationship. Being older than George would normally put Martha at a disadvantage, but she uses the age difference in her favor to show that she has greater experience than George does and thus greater influence.

George breaking the bottle is an act of frustration and rage, but the fact that he drops it without a word shows that he is emasculated. He is stripped of his power and manhood and thus is able only to sing a children's song in response to his wife's vicious taunts.

Honey's vomiting, as with the other symbols in the play, operates on two levels. First, she is literally ill because she is drunk. However, she is also figuratively sickened by the hatred that George and Martha spew at each other through their vicious emotional mind games. Their emotional violence has turned her stomach.

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