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His works are considered well-crafted, often unsympathetic examinations of the modern condition. His early works reflect a mastery and Americanization.

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Presentation on theme: "His works are considered well-crafted, often unsympathetic examinations of the modern condition. His early works reflect a mastery and Americanization."— Presentation transcript:

1 His works are considered well-crafted, often unsympathetic examinations of the modern condition. His early works reflect a mastery and Americanization of the Theatre of the Absurd that found its in works by European playwrights such as Samuel BeckettTheatre of the AbsurdSamuel Beckett Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by: Edward AlbeeEdward Albee Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? The Zoo Story The American Dream The Goat, or Who is Sylv i 1

2 George - A member of the history department at New Carthage University. George is married to Martha, in a once loving relationship now defined by sarcasm and frequent acrimony. Martha - Martha is the 52-year-old daughter of the president of New Carthage University. She is married to George, though disappointed with his aborted academic career. She attempts to have an affair with Nick. Nick - Nick has just become a new member of the biology faculty at New Carthage University. He is 28 years old, good-looking, Midwestern, and clean-cut. He is married to Honey. Honey - Honey is the petite, bland wife of Nick. She is 26 years old, has a weak stomach, and is not the brightest bulb of the bunch 1

3 The play is divided into three acts, which all have :titles "Fun and Games", "Walpurgisnacht" and "The Exorcism". 1

4 In the first act "Fun and Games" 1- Albee’s act begins to probe the lives and the values of his four characters. 2-The conflict between Martha and George is revealed as well as the secret that binds them to each other. 3-To spite her husband, Martha breaks the code of secrecy and exposes their imaginary child. They use this rupture of their illusion to hurt each other. 4-The guests and their hosts - Nick and Honey indulge in playing games with them, not understanding the magnitude of these oddly constructed battles. 1

5 In the second act "Walpurgisnacht" 1-This act continues the games from the previous act, only the action reaches a climax as all the characters act in ways that are extreme versions of themselves. 2-The drinking is increased, stories and secrets are revealed, sexual proclivities occur between Martha and Nick, and George decides to play the biggest game yet called "Kill the Kid." 3-There is a sense of these people being out of control and directed by their most basic instincts and desires. 1

6 In The third act “The Exorcism" The third act marks a climax as George and Martha's fantasy child is killed. It is called "The Exorcism" as George decides that Martha has to be purged of the cherished illusion she holds and that he once held in order for them to be whole again. Moreover, Honey confesses her desire to have a child despite the pain that she fears. This act indicates that the characters are on the path to recovery and shows both Martha and George as being in similar positions, the power structure has been leveled and they must start life anew. This is the denouement of the play. 1

7 Themes Reality-Illusion Games-War History-Biology Love-Hate The American Dream The Christian allegory 1

8 Throughout the play, illusion seems indistinguishable from reality. It is difficult to tell which of George and Martha's stories ­ about their son, about George's past ­ are true or fictional. Similarly, Nick and Honey's lives are based on illusion. Nick married for money, not love. Albee believed that a life of illusion was wrong because it created a false content for life, just as George and Martha's empty marriage revolves around an imaginary son. In Albee's view, reality lacks any deeper meaning, and George and Martha must come to face that by abandoning their illusions Reality vs. Illusion 1

9 Games and War: for the games that George and Martha play with their guests are not the expected party games. Rather, their games of Humiliate the Host, Get the Guests, and Hump the Hostess which involves the characters' deepest emotions. George's characterization of these emotionally destructive activities as games and assumption of the role of ring master reveals that all the events of the evening are part of a power struggle between him and Martha, in which one of them intends to emerge as victor. Albee does not suggest that they are frivolous or meaningless. Rather, he likens game-playing to war and demonstrates the degree to which George and Martha are committed to destroying each other. 1

10 George and Nick's academic departments at New Carthage College set up a dialectic in which Albee presents a warning about the future of life. George is an associate professor in the History Department, while Nick is a new member of the Biology Department Albee demonstrates two clashing worldviews. George's lack of success in the History Department and inability to rise to power as successor to the president of the college contrasts with Nick's plans and seeming ability to move ahead ­ first taking over the Biology Department, then the college. Albee clearly intends for us to perceive Nick's (half-joking) plan as a threat.Albee demonstrates the underlying powerlessness of science and in George's perseverance, the unexpected staying power of history. History vs. Biology 1

11 Albee seems to make the not-uncommon literary assertion that love and hate are two parts of a single whole.. However, Martha's declaration that George is really the only one who can satisfy her suggests that there are or have been positive aspects to their marriage. Clearly, as much as they fight, they also need each other, even if just to maintain the illusions that keep them going. Love and Hate 1

12 The American Dream: the American Dream was a significant concern of Albee's. In Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Albee uses this symbolic first couple's unhappy marriage as a microcosm for the imperfect state of America. When George and Martha's marriage is revealed to be a sham based on the illusion of an imaginary son, the viewer is led to question the illusions that similarly prop up the American dream. Nick and Honey, a conventional American dream couple, are also revealed to be presenting a falsely happy façade. They too secretly take advantage of and lie to that masks a core of destruction and failure. 1

13 The Christian allegory Martha refers to her (imaginary) son as a "poor lamb," making him a Christ symbol ­ for Jesus is also known as the Lamb of God. George chants the Kyrie Eleison, Dies Irae, and Requiem from Catholic liturgy Albee even names the third act of the play "The Exorcism." That name, of course, refers to George's attempt to kill the "son" and thus exorcise illusion from his marriage. The killing of the "lamb" can also be seen as a sacrifice necessary to save George and Martha's marriage. George calls the proceedings "an Easter pageant," referencing the day the Lamb of God was sacrificed to save the world, and the scene even takes place early on a Sunday morning. 1

14 References to Christ and God are frequent (often expressed as curses or hidden in common expressions). religious symbols (both Christian and pre-Christian)- for example, in Martha's role as "earth mother," in the satanic rites and in the ritual of exorcism that accompanies George's attempts to rid Martha of the"possession" that haunts her (their imaginary child).. Religious allusions and symbols 1

15 is an ironic use of the phrase often associated with parties. It suggests not only the psychological games that George and Martha play with each other as a substitute for communication but also the "games" played with Nick and Honey. They become unwitting victims of George and Martha's need to include others in their web of mental cruelty. "Fun and Games" 1

16 " Walpurgisnacht" means, literally, "Night of the Witches." In European folklore, it is a night when witches meet to indulge in orgies. It is in this act of the play that George and Martha's cruelty to each other and to their guests is at its most vicious and hurtful. 1

17 Gamesmanship is one of the play's major themes and is expressed in the title of the first act, "Fun and Games." Albee is emphasizing the games everyone plays in life, particularly those that are harmful to ourselves and to others. George and Martha's games have moved beyond the needs of a normal couple to chide each other for their faults. 1

18 The imaginary child is important to the play for several reasons. On one level, it gives the play suspense, as the audience wonders why George is so insistent that the subject of the child not be mentioned. On a symbolic level, the child represents George and Martha's need to share something private amid the wreck of their marriage, even an illusion, since the thought of facing the reality of their lives is too painful. Another possibility is that the child represents the sterility of American lives, in which the dream of the perfect child is merely an illusion, impossible to achieve in a world of adultery, alcoholism, lying, and evasion. 1

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