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Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? ENGL 2030: Experience of Literature— Drama [Lavery]

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Presentation on theme: "Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? ENGL 2030: Experience of Literature— Drama [Lavery]"— Presentation transcript:

1 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? ENGL 2030: Experience of Literature— Drama [Lavery]

2 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) Directed by Mike Nichols Writing credits Edward Albee (play [1962]) Ernest Lehman (screenplay) Actors: Martha: Elizabeth Taylor George: Richard Burton Nick: George Segal Honey: Sandy Dennis Runtime: 134 min ENGL 2030: Experience of Literature— Drama [Lavery]

3 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

4 Edward Albee (American playwright, ) ENGL 2030: Experience of Literature— Drama [Lavery]

5 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Mike Nichols, American comic and director (1931- ) ENGL 2030: Experience of Literature— Drama [Lavery]

6 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Virginia Woolf (British novelist and writer, ) ENGL 2030: Experience of Literature— Drama [Lavery]

7 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? ENGL 2030: Experience of Literature— Drama [Lavery]

8 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? ENGL 2030: Experience of Literature— Drama [Lavery]

9 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? ENGL 2030: Experience of Literature— Drama [Lavery]

10 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? ENGL 2030: Experience of Literature— Drama [Lavery]

11 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? xxxxx ENGL 2030: Experience of Literature— Drama [Lavery]

12 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? ENGL 2030: Experience of Literature— Drama [Lavery]

13 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? “Nichols’ Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?: Breaking the Code” David Lavery and Nancy Roche Forthcoming in Modern American Drama on Screen, ed. Robert Bray and R. Barton Palmer (Cambridge U P, 2013). Available here; ENGL 2030: Experience of Literature— Drama [Lavery]

14 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? At one point in the play Martha asks Nick, “Do you always deal in appearances?” In Who’s Afraid it is a mistake to understand people based on face values. ENGL 2030: Experience of Literature— Drama [Lavery]

15 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? In a late scene of the play, George, responding to the news that Honey is in the bathroom peeling labels off liquor bottles, comments “We all peel labels.” Indeed, by the end of the night, the end of the play, many labels have been removed. ENGL 2030: Experience of Literature— Drama [Lavery]

16 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? The Life Lie In Ibsen’s play The Wild Duck, the character Relling argues for the importance to the average individual of the “life life”/”life illusion”: If you take away make-believe from the average man, you take away happiness as well. ENGL 2030: Experience of Literature— Drama [Lavery]

17 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? When Martha suggests that her husband cannot tell truth from illusion, George replies “Yes, but we must carry on as though we did.” Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? forces the audience to decide on the difference between truth and illusion as well. ENGL 2030: Experience of Literature— Drama [Lavery]

18 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Insults:  “You make me puke.” (Martha to George)  “I swear if you existed I’d divorce you.” (Martha to George)  “Rubbing alcohol for you Martha?” (George to Martha)  “... the apple of our three eyes, Martha being a cyclops.” (George) ENGL 2030: Experience of Literature— Drama [Lavery]

19 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? “My god I think I understand this. My god I think I understand this.” —Nick ENGL 2030: Experience of Literature— Drama [Lavery]

20 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Nick: You couldn’t have... any? George: We couldn’t. Martha (with a hint of communion): We couldn’t. ENGL 2030: Experience of Literature— Drama [Lavery]

21 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Notes and Queries (in no particular order)  Analyze Nick and Honey’s relationship? Do they have illusions too? ENGL 2030: Experience of Literature— Drama [Lavery]

22 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Notes and Queries (in no particular order)  Analyze Nick and Honey’s relationship? Do they have illusions too?  George threatens to have Martha "committed." Given what you know about her at the end of the play, could he? ENGL 2030: Experience of Literature— Drama [Lavery]

23 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Notes and Queries (in no particular order)  Analyze Nick and Honey’s relationship? Do they have illusions too?  George threatens to have Martha "committed." Given what you know about her at the end of the play, could he?  "Get the guests." How precisely does one play this game? ENGL 2030: Experience of Literature— Drama [Lavery]

24 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Notes and Queries (in no particular order)  Analyze Nick and Honey’s relationship? Do they have illusions too?  George threatens to have Martha "committed." Given what you know about her at the end of the play, could he?  "Get the guests." How precisely does one play this game?  Is George’s novel true? ENGL 2030: Experience of Literature— Drama [Lavery]

25 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Notes and Queries (in no particular order)  Analyze Nick and Honey’s relationship? Do they have illusions too?  George threatens to have Martha "committed." Given what you know about her at the end of the play, could he?  "Get the guests." How precisely does one play this game?  Is George’s novel true?  Martha suggests, hurtfully, it seems, that George thinks their "son" may not be his? Is this true? ENGL 2030: Experience of Literature— Drama [Lavery]

26 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Notes and Queries (in no particular order)  Analyze Nick and Honey’s relationship? Do they have illusions too?  George threatens to have Martha "committed." Given what you know about her at the end of the play, could he?  "Get the guests." How precisely does one play this game?  Is George’s novel true?  Martha suggests, hurtfully, it seems, that George thinks their "son" may not be his? Is this true?  Martha tells George that he cannot afford to waste liquor "on an associate professor’s salary." What does it tell us about George that he is still an "associate professor"? ENGL 2030: Experience of Literature— Drama [Lavery]

27 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Notes and Queries (in no particular order)  Analyze Nick and Honey’s relationship? Do they have illusions too?  George threatens to have Martha "committed." Given what you know about her at the end of the play, could he?  "Get the guests." How precisely does one play this game?  Is George’s novel true?  Martha suggests, hurtfully, it seems, that George thinks their "son" may not be his? Is this true?  Martha tells George that he cannot afford to waste liquor "on an associate professor’s salary." What does it tell us about George that he is still an "associate professor"?  Martha tells Nick she is an "earth mother." What is an "earth mother?" Is she one? ENGL 2030: Experience of Literature— Drama [Lavery]

28 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Notes and Queries (in no particular order)  Analyze Nick and Honey’s relationship? Do they have illusions too?  George threatens to have Martha "committed." Given what you know about her at the end of the play, could he?  "Get the guests." How precisely does one play this game?  Is George’s novel true?  Martha suggests, hurtfully, it seems, that George thinks their "son" may not be his? Is this true?  Martha tells George that he cannot afford to waste liquor "on an associate professor’s salary." What does it tell us about George that he is still an "associate professor"?  Martha tells Nick she is an "earth mother." What is an "earth mother?" Is she one?  Nick tells George "You’ll regret this." He replies, "No doubt. I regret everything." Explain. ENGL 2030: Experience of Literature— Drama [Lavery]

29 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Notes and Queries (in no particular order)  Nick tells George that he became a teacher for the "same things that motivated you." "What were they?" George replies cynically. Explain. ENGL 2030: Experience of Literature— Drama [Lavery]

30 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Notes and Queries (in no particular order)  Nick tells George that he became a teacher for the "same things that motivated you." "What were they?" George replies cynically. Explain.  Notice all the ways in which Nichols shows us Martha’s uncouthness (some examples: the chicken leg, her housecleaning techniques). ENGL 2030: Experience of Literature— Drama [Lavery]

31 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Notes and Queries (in no particular order)  Nick tells George that he became a teacher for the "same things that motivated you." "What were they?" George replies cynically. Explain.  Notice all the ways in which Nichols shows us Martha’s uncouthness (some examples: the chicken leg, her housecleaning techniques).  Notice the lovely entrance of Nick and Honey as Martha brays "God damn you." ENGL 2030: Experience of Literature— Drama [Lavery]

32 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Notes and Queries (in no particular order)  Nick tells George that he became a teacher for the "same things that motivated you." "What were they?" George replies cynically. Explain.  Notice all the ways in which Nichols shows us Martha’s uncouthness (some examples: the chicken leg, her housecleaning techniques).  Notice the lovely entrance of Nick and Honey as Martha brays "God damn you."  What effect does George’s "mass for the dead" (including recitation in Latin) have on the tone of the play? ENGL 2030: Experience of Literature— Drama [Lavery]

33 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Notes and Queries (in no particular order)  Nick tells George that he became a teacher for the "same things that motivated you." "What were they?" George replies cynically. Explain.  Notice all the ways in which Nichols shows us Martha’s uncouthness (some examples: the chicken leg, her housecleaning techniques).  Notice the lovely entrance of Nick and Honey as Martha brays "God damn you."  What effect does George’s "mass for the dead" (including recitation in Latin) have on the tone of the play?  When George insists he can’t take any more of Martha’s abuse, she responds "Why not? You married me for it." What does she mean? Is she right? ENGL 2030: Experience of Literature— Drama [Lavery]

34 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Notes and Queries (in no particular order)  Nick tells George that he became a teacher for the "same things that motivated you." "What were they?" George replies cynically. Explain.  Notice all the ways in which Nichols shows us Martha’s uncouthness (some examples: the chicken leg, her housecleaning techniques).  Notice the lovely entrance of Nick and Honey as Martha brays "God damn you."  What effect does George’s "mass for the dead" (including recitation in Latin) have on the tone of the play?  When George insists he can’t take any more of Martha’s abuse, she responds "Why not? You married me for it." What does she mean? Is she right?  Why does Albee use all those one word repetitions: "clink," "snap," etc. ENGL 2030: Experience of Literature— Drama [Lavery]

35 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Notes and Queries (in no particular order)  Nick tells George that he became a teacher for the "same things that motivated you." "What were they?" George replies cynically. Explain.  Notice all the ways in which Nichols shows us Martha’s uncouthness (some examples: the chicken leg, her housecleaning techniques).  Notice the lovely entrance of Nick and Honey as Martha brays "God damn you."  What effect does George’s "mass for the dead" (including recitation in Latin) have on the tone of the play?  When George insists he can’t take any more of Martha’s abuse, she responds "Why not? You married me for it." What does she mean? Is she right?  Why does Albee use all those one word repetitions: "clink," "snap," etc.  Why does this particular night result in "total war"? ENGL 2030: Experience of Literature— Drama [Lavery]

36 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? In an early scene of the play George confuses his and Nick’s wives’ names and when corrected by Nick, observes (redundantly but profoundly) that if he were married to Honey he would know what being married to Honey meant, and if Nick were married to Martha he would know what being married to Martha means. As this scene suggests, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is, in fact, a play about marriage. ENGL 2030: Experience of Literature— Drama [Lavery]

37 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? There's only been one man in my life who's ever made me happy. You know that? One.... George. My husband.... George who is out somewhere there in the dark. Who is good to me. Whom I revile. Who can keep learning the games we play as quickly as I can change them. Who can make me happy and I do not wish to be happy. Yes, I do wish to be happy. George and Martha. Sad, sad, sad. Whom I will not forgive for having come to rest. For having seen me and having said... ''Yes, this will do.'' Who has made the hideous, the hurting... the insulting mistake of loving me. And must be punished for it. Sad, sad, sad. Some day... some night... some stupid liquor-ridden night I will go too far. I'll either break his back or I'll push him off for good, which I deserve. Martha ENGL 2030: Experience of Literature— Drama [Lavery]

38 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Nature is said to have required several hundreds of thousands of years for the selection of those species which now seem to us adapted to their surroundings. And yet we have the presumption to suppose that all of a sudden in the course of a single life we may solve the problem of the adaptation to one another of two highly organized physical and moral beings. --Denis de Rougemont, Love in the Western World, Trans. Montgomery Belgion (New York: Harper and Row, 1956): 303. ENGL 2030: Experience of Literature— Drama [Lavery]

39 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Married couples are not saints, and sin is not some error which we may renounce one of these days in order to adopt a more accurate truth. We are unendingly and incessantly in the thick of the struggle between nature and grace; unendingly and incessantly unhappy and then happy. But the horizon has not remained the same. A fidelity maintained in the Name of what does not change as we change will gradually disclose some of its mystery: beyond tragedy another happiness waits. A happiness resembling the old, but no longer belonging to the form of the world, for this new happiness transforms the world. --Denis de Rougemont, Love in the Western World ENGL 2030: Experience of Literature— Drama [Lavery]


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