How and with What Effects Does Albee Present Married Couples in Act 1? Essay

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How and with what effects does Albee present married couples in Act 1? In Act 1 of ‘Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?’ we are introduced to two married couples; Martha and George and Nick and Honey. Martha and George are a middle-aged couple living on campus in a small New English university. George is a professor in the history department, where Martha’s father is the president. Whilst Nick, a member of the biology department, and his wife Honey, are in their twenties and have recently moved to the university. Although you can argue that the couples are a juxtaposition of each other, both are presented as flawed and dysfunctional by Albee. Albee destroys the perception of bliss marital life that was common in the 1950s. Many TV shows at the time, for example ‘I Love Lucy’ and ‘Lassie’, portrayed married couples as perfect and euphoric. However Albee emphasises the side of marriage that is often kept behind doors; instead of affection and love, there is the portrayal of disturbing taunting and bullying between Martha and George that borderlines domestic abuse. Throughout Act 1, Martha and George continuously insult each other, for example in the opening scene Martha refers to George as ‘a blank, a cipher’ and questions his existence; ‘I swear… if you … existed I’d divorce you”. George retaliates by remarking on the age difference between them, “I’m six years younger than you are…I always have been and I always will be”, and insinuates that she is an alcoholic floozy-“ There aren’t many more sickening sights than you with a couple of drinks in you and your skirt up over head”. Albee also stresses a lack of communication between both couples, particularly George and Martha. Instead of George and Martha conversing over there nuptial issues with each other, they reveal the deep problems of their marriage to their guests. Honey and Nick take on the role of

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