Who’s Afraid of Virginai Woolf Passage Analysis – pages 30 and 128
The final moment in the play provides a strong sense of resolution for the relationship of George and Martha in contrast with the merciless bickering that makes up much of the action of the drama. The cathartic ‘exorcism’ of illusion leaves all four characters able to embrace a new beginning this is particularly true of Martha and George. The hysteria and escalating conflict of earlier scenes is culminates in a final scene that ‘very slowly, very softly’ brings the two characters together in genuine communion. Albee depicts Martha’s persistent humiliation of George as almost ritualised. The ritual is perhaps so familiar that George knows precisely when to make his exit as the story begins and returns at precisely the moment when the story concludes. As Martha tells the story of the boxing match as a comic set piece George times his entrance to perfection – like much of the couple’s mutual disintegration they both play their part in the farce. The anecdote reflects Martha’s characterisation as a dominant force within the marriage. She plays to her audience of Nick and Honey, the use of ellipsis reflecting the almost breathless excitement with which she recounts the event. Her repetition of ‘POW!’ punctuates the narrative, highlighting her role as the deliverer of the knockout blow to George’s masculinity. Her observation that the event was both funny and awful simultaneously is perhaps an apt description of their marriage – a comedy that is excruciating to witness. Martha’s observation that the event has ‘coloured our whole life’ shows how the marriage hinges on a constant iteration of the power relationship that holds them in an emotional stasis – unable to escape the prison of their own making. Martha however concludes the observation with, ‘It’s an excuse, anyway.’ She recognises that they are both looking for excuses for their plight – something that can be used to explain their...
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