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Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? | Study Guide

Edward Albee

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Course Hero. "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Study Guide." Course Hero. 28 July 2016. Web. 20 Nov. 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 November 20, 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 November 20, 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 20, 2017, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Whos-Afraid-of-Virginia-Woolf/.

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? | Act 2, Walpurgisnacht (Section 3) | Summary

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Summary

George tells Nick that Martha, too, has inherited money, but hers came from her father's second wife. Nick and George joke about Martha's stepmother being a witch "who married a white mouse." Nick says that his father-in-law was a "church mouse." The two men laugh over their witty wordplay. George says that his stories may not be true. George tells Nick that he feels Nick is a threat to him because Nick will take over the college, one department at a time, and seduce the men's wives.

George tells Nick that he is trying to help him survive by offering him some advice. Nick does not take George seriously, even when George says that there is no point to the world's culture, art, music, and learning.

Honey returns to the living room, and Martha tries to force George to apologize for making their guest vomit. George says that Martha makes him want to vomit. Honey says there's no reason why she vomits. She says that her problems date from before her marriage, when the doctors thought she had appendicitis. Martha says that George made their son vomit; George says that Martha "fiddled" with their son all the time. Martha claims that their son ran away a lot. George counters that their son claimed, "Mama's always coming at me." Nick wants to know why George is talking about something that is so embarrassing.

Analysis

Nick is indeed a threat to George because he represents the future and George is the past. Whether Nick takes George's job doesn't matter. Men such as Nick—the new hires, the young, the strong—will replace George and his generation, as the new generation always replaces the previous one. Nick plays along with what George says in this act because he doesn't understand what George means, nor can he grasp George's fear.

George and Martha's creation of their imaginary son provides a powerful means by which they can further insult each other. George goes so far in their discussion of their son as to insinuate sexual abuse, which dials up tension and the emotional head games they play. The couple also use sex as a weapon, shown later in suggestive dancing and Martha's seduction of Nick.

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