Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? shocked audiences and critics alike with its assault on decorum. At base though, the play is simply a love story: an examination of a long-wedded life, filled with the hopes, dreams, disappointments, and pain that accompany the passing of many years together.
While the ethos of the play is tragicomic, it is the anachronistic, melodramatic secret object-the nonexistent son -that upends the audience's sense of theatrical normalcy. The mean and vulgar bile spewed among the characters hides these elements, making it feel like something entirely new.
As Michael Y. Bennett reveals, the play is the same emperor, just wearing new clothes. In short, it is straight out of the grand tradition of living room drama: Ibsen, Chekhov, Glaspell, Hellmann, O'Neill, Wilder, Miller, Williams, and Albee.
Michael Y. Bennett
Country of Publication:
Series: The Fourth Wall
11 July 2018
Further / Higher Education
A / AS level
Acknowledgments CHAPTER 1: The Play's Contexts CHAPTER 2: The Play in Retrospect: Seeing the New as Old CHAPTER 3: The Play and Players CHAPTER 4: The Play's Legacy NOTES BIBLIOGRAPHY
Michael Y. Bennett is Associate Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, USA.