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Additional resources for Edward Albee’s Whos’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?
ALLUSIONS George and Martha’s education allows Albee to use a great many allusions in their speeches- literary, historic, and religious. References to Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, the Punic Wars, the Lamb of God, the Catholic mass, and others make the play a rich tapestry of ideas. Notice that Albee rarely, if ever, uses an allusion without making it work for the characters or the theme. Such allusions add complexity to the work and invite several readings in order to fully appreciate the play.
The “body talk” between Martha and Nick reinforces the implied sexual tension between them. Martha is more and more obvious in her comments. At one point in this scene, the stage directions tell you that “there is a rapport of some unformed sort” between them. You may wonder why Honey seems to notice none of this. The obvious answer is that she’s too drunk. Indeed, a great deal of liquor is being consumed by all four! But for all of Honey’s inane behavior, there is more to her than meets the eye.
George calls for Martha, who answers him abrasively, but it’s Honey who appears. ACT I, SCENE IV Honey returns with two bits of information that infuriate George: Martha is changing her clothes to be more “comfortable,” and she has mentioned the forbidden topic- their son- to Honey. George says to himself, “OK, Martha... OK,” as if he has made a decision based on her behavior. He has warned her about this- now what will he do? ” George’s suspicions that Martha is sexually attracted to Nick have been confirmed- she’s on the prowl.