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. 11 Dec. 2018. <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 December 11, 2018, 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 December 11, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Whos-Afraid-of-Virginia-Woolf/.


Course Hero, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Study Guide," July 28, 2016, accessed December 11, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Whos-Afraid-of-Virginia-Woolf/.

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? | Plot Summary

See Plot Diagram


Act 1: Fun and Games

The play is set in the living room of George and Martha's house, located on the campus of a small New England college. George is a professor of history; Martha is his wife. Martha has invited a young married couple, Nick and Honey, over for some drinks after the campus party given by her father, the college president. When Nick, a new biology professor (whom Martha thinks teaches math) and Honey arrive around 2:00 a.m., George and Martha are arguing with each other. George tells Nick and Honey that he and Martha have a son, who will be 21 the following day. Martha flirts with Nick, and George aims a rifle at her, which pops out a Chinese umbrella. Everyone drinks a great deal and gets drunk. Honey goes to the bathroom and vomits.

Act 2: Walpurgisnacht

George tells Nick a story about going drinking with friends while he was in prep school. In the story one of the boys accidentally killed his mother with a shotgun. The following year the same boy killed his father in a car accident. The boy was put in a mental hospital and never spoke again. Martha and George escalate their fighting: Martha says that George tried to publish a novel he had written about the boy who killed his parents but her father would not allow it. George insults Nick and Honey in a game he calls "Get the Guests." Martha seduces Nick.

Act 3: The Exorcism

Martha is alone onstage. George enters from outside the house, holding some snapdragons for her. George and Martha argue. Martha insults Nick by revealing that he was too drunk to have sex with her. George announces the final game, "Bringing Up Baby." George and Martha talk about their son. George recites Latin prayers for the dead. George then tells Martha that he had received a telegram stating that their son was dead, killed while driving. Nick and Honey realize that George and Martha never had a son: the story is fiction. Nick and Honey leave. George sings "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and Martha says that George is the only man she ever loved.

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Plot Diagram

Falling ActionRising ActionResolutionClimax123456789101112Introduction


1 Nick and Honey visit George and Martha at 2:00 a.m.

Rising Action

2 George and Martha argue with increasing viciousness.

3 Everyone gets drunk.

4 Martha flirts with Nick.

5 George tells the story of a boy who killed both his parents.

6 George and Martha say they have a son who will be 21.

7 Martha tries to seduce Nick, but he is impotent.

8 George "kills off" their son in a car accident.


9 Nick and Honey realize the son is imaginary.

Falling Action

10 George and Martha, stripped of illusions, face failures.

11 Nick and Honey leave.


12 George sings "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" Martha is.

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