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Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Powerful Essays
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Fun and Games – What are the games,

and how much fun do people have?

The play begins with George and Martha, who have just returned from a

welcoming-party at the college. From the first moments of the play,

the audience are made aware of the great differences between these two

characters. Martha is said to be a “large, boisterous” woman, whereas

George is referred to as a “thin” man, with hair that is going grey.

Martha is an aggressive and loud woman, but George is passive and

quiet. The fact that the characters are so different leads to

inevitable conflict between them. Throughout Act I, which is

ironically entitled “Fun and Games”, there is a great power struggle

between them. The “games” are simply the tools with which George and

Martha attempt to assert their dominance.

After Martha has entered the family home, she looks around and

immediately exclaims, “What a dump!”. She then asks George which film

the phrase comes from. It is possible that Martha already knows the

answer to this, but asks George anyway, because she is aware that he

does not. This is the first “game” that is played out between the two

characters. Martha continues to ask her husband which Bette Davis

film the phrase is from, and he eventually gives her a reluctant

answer, “Chicago! Its called Chicago.”. This is, of course,

incorrect, and so Martha is victorious in this “game”, as she has

forced George to guess at the film title, even though he did not want

to.

One of the key features of the “games” that George and Martha play is

that, if one of the characters asserts their dominance over the other

in a particular game, then the other always tries to retain a kind of

equilibrium by conjuring u...

... middle of paper ...

...eed not his.

A the end of the Act, Martha begins another relentless campaign to

make George feel like a failure, and how he doesn’t have the “stuff”

to become head of the history department. This culminates in George

smashing a glass in frustration. This is the first time that words

have failed George, and he appears utterly beaten by Martha’s cruel

insults. He then begins to sing Martha’s Virginia Woolf song, in an

attempt to drown her out. This is ironic, as he is, in a way,

conceding defeat to her by doing this. George’s patience appears to

have evaporated, and Martha seems victorious.

In conclusion, it must be said that the ironically named “games”

between George and Martha cause a great deal of pain to both

characters. Neither can be said to be having “fun” at any time,

though there were occasions when Martha appears turned-on by the

conflict.
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