Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf is a book based on reality; it shows us what we choose not to see. People tend to have unrealistic expectations. This leads us to disappointment. Though in the book, George and Martha tend to avoid disappointment. There is a fine line between reality and illusions and maybe nobody really understands the meaning of happiness. We tend to truly believe that our illusions are much better than reality. We encounter a few myths in the play that lead us to believe that they’re living their lives as a dream, which is explains why there are so many games and why Martha is so childish. In Albee’s view, Martha and George must face reality by abandoning their illusions. Throughout the whole book it is hard to know what the real truth is and what is actually just fictional because of all their false stories.
This play is based on real life because, maybe we tend to do similar things like pretending we’re someone else or pretending that we’re happy when we’re really just not happy at all…Albee is trying to teach us a lesson, trying to teach us that creating illusions isn’t going to make you happier, it’ll only make you want what you can’t have more and more, and that you just have to accept life for what it is. The myths in the play are condescending, we want to believe they are true but they are not. The Myths of The American Dreams and success are a big part of this play as well as the myth of what an American man and Woman is because we continue to realise that the whole play is based on illusions and lies.
“For many people the ‘American Dream’ is an ethos that grants everybody the opportunity to achieve “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” (Declaration of Independence)” (Truth, Illusion and the American Dream in Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” ,Jannis Rudski-weise, 2009),. In the play the American dream is a big theme because Martha and George are completely unfit to the American dream… Martha and George want a child but Martha could never have children, in order to ‘pursuit’ their happiness, they created this child out of illusions. They tell everyone about him until it gets out of hand and where they have to face the reality that they never have or ever will have a child. This could relate to us in many ways, because we like to choose what makes us happy rather than actually comprehending the truth. Albee is trying to say that avoiding reality won’t make anything go away. Also, we realize that George doesn’t wear the pants in the relationship, Martha does.
She is the one providing for them, and George only married her for business. They actually hate each other, but maybe that game they play is what makes them love each other at the same time. Though in the American dream a Married couple would be fiercely in love and couldn’t stand the hatred of each other. There would be no games. Nick and Honey are also a great example in the book because, they seem to have it all, they seem to be the perfect couple, but later on we find out that Honey has been taking the pill to prevent her from having children, and that Nick had also only married her for business purposes. Just goes to show how inaccurate the myth of The American dream is. “Taking a closer look at the characters in the play, it becomes apparent that they either represent a certain aspect of the American Dream or that they are opposed to it”.
As for the myth of success, usually the man of the family is supposed to be the one that can support. Though in the book, Martha is more successful than George because of her father. George was supposed to get promoted but never did, which is why Martha thinks of George as such a big failure. Though George knows he is not successful, he knows for a fact that he only works in the history department but does not run it. George and Nick dispute about who’s more successful. Nick seems to be a great example for a successful man because he works hard and became a biologist. Though it is odd that even though he is successful, he only married Hunny for the money, making it seem like he has it all, but he doesn’t. What is success? Success usually means you’ve accomplished something and did a good job, but are Nick and George doing a good job?
Or is it Martha and Hunny who are the ones that are successful? Honestly, Martha and Hunny seem to be the ones who are very successful. Considering the men are actually relying on the woman, tells us something about success. Women are more successful than men but men do not want to accept that… and that is why we believe so much that woman should have to rely and depend on a good man one day. Like Martha, she wanted to marry someone successful but in the end is disappointed by the fact that George did not become as successful as she would have liked; he was a failure to her. Even Nick is a disappointment because he still relied on Hunny.
The myth of an American woman and man is also a theme. What we’re supposed to believe is that a woman should be at home with the kids while the man goes to work all day and helps provide for the family. Though this does not apply in the play. In many ways we see that the genders change roles. An American woman should be someone who depends on her husband, cooks, cleans, and takes care of everything. Though Martha, in the play shows to be the one that is more successful because of her father, and Martha does not have children which also makes us realize that the myth of an actual American woman is only but a myth. While a man is supposed to provide, George is actuallly relying on Martha to be successful.
This myth relates to the myth of marriage. I guess that’s how a man and a woman are supposed to be like in a marriage. They’re supposed to get married, live there happily ever after, have kids and etc. But Martha and George don’t even pretend to be happy. In fact they even talk about their personal issues in front of their guests. To make them happy they also make up a child… The poor guests Nick and Hunny have to deal with them all night. They seemed to be in a perfect relationship, until after they’ve consumed so much alcohol that all of the truth comes out…
After reading this play, I think we can all realise that we take life for granted. As I had discussed that the men were greedy and married their wives for money. None of the characters from the book were truly happy. It was all to bring happiness in their lives, but in the end made them very unhappy. The myth of the American dream is hard to achieve… No one truly is completely happy, everyone wants things they cannot have, but in the end you just have to cherish what you have…and that is something that the characters in the play did not understand. It was all about money and success; while they let their marriages fall apart. These are all just myths that could become reality if you played the right cards.
Courtney from Study Moose