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George maintains his game-playing and point-scoring with Martha by assuming a teacher-like tone, while Martha is the pupil. He explains that the chromosome business is “very simple, Martha”, patronising her like she’s a child, again continuing the games. George belittles her, implying she’s a monster with a ravenous, almost sexual, appetite that “eats [chromosomes]… for breakfast”. His sudden increase in conversation may be a means to hinder Martha’s incessant flirting with Nick, since he is feeling rather threatened by Nick.
Although George is speaking to Martha he is directing it at Nick. He links the idea of the banal unvarying race personally to Nick, referring to the “smooth, blond, and right at the middleweight limit” civilisation of seemingly “glorious men”. Nick fits this description perfectly, personifying the typical, superficially perfect American Dream, and by making his condemnation of the vision specifically related to Nick, George challenges him. George is contemptuous towards Nick, and as the stage directions read, ignores him when Nick tries to protest.
He doesn’t trust Nick, and George openly challenges him: “I know when I’m being threatened. ” This demonstrates his acknowledgement of both the sexual threat Nick poses, and of the battle between art and science. George is not fooled by Nick’s false courtesy as seen in the early stages of the play. Nick’s guise of decorum is gradually beginning to uncover. Being a scientist makes him the victim of George’s criticism, and a contributor in the construction of a monotonous master race.
Consequently, Nick does not have an opposing response to this vision since he plays a role in its development displayed through his joke of being “the wave of the future. ” It also reveals elements of Nick’s arrogance when he says it. He tries to, as seen in the stage directions: “make light of it all”, in a sarcastic reply to George’s attack, but there is a sense of overconfidence about it. Nick seems unable to take criticism and when he tries to interrupt George, he is “impatient” or says it “grimly”, showing how he wants to cease George’s belittling of him and his profession, and his frustration at George.
Nick obviously dislikes and holds contempt to George. He gets very irritated with George’s comments about scientists being “ants”, demanding: “Are you finished? ” Nick is becoming infuriated with George’s taunting, but tries to control himself by “trying to make light of it all”. The underlying tensions in Nick’s relationship with Honey begin to show clearly. He snaps at her when she drunkenly asks: “You never told me,” and his “angry” outburst, as seen by the stage directions, “[shocks]” her.
Nick unleashes his impatience and resentment onto Honey, showing that they are not the ‘perfect couple’ that they appear to be. Here, Albee breaks down the image of the American Dream which Honey and Nick are supposed to embody. Nick calls himself “a personal screwing machine” in response to Martha’s flirting with him. Martha surprisingly doesn’t play a domineering part in this extract. She doesn’t seem very interested in the totalitarian vision of the future, until George mentions Nick. Martha’s responses: “Hunh!… Awww…
Goody,” are not ones made with great enthusiasm or with interest, although she is “impressed” at the start of George’s explanation of chromosomes to her. When Martha does comment it does not exhibit anything that we don’t already know about her, such as her sexual forwardness. Martha is subtly developing her relationship with Nick, flattering him constantly. She remarks how it’s “not a bad idea” if everyone looked like him, and “salaciously” says “So, everyone’s going to look like you, eh? ” Martha’s obvious flirting could either be taken seriously, or as just another game to annoy George.
Along with her advances towards Nick, she gets at George by putting him down, teasing him about his “paunch”. Martha and George’s childish games are a common part of their interaction, and her mocking him is all part of the game. This extract is essential in showing how there is a gradual development of characters and their opinions, especially George. How the relationships between characters are portrayed in this extract is significant: they are beginning to develop, and their true nature is progressively being exposed.
Yet Albee does not simply convey the characters and their relationships with each other, but perhaps even a portrayal of a wider society. In this extract, Albee criticises the concept of the ‘American Dream’, the idea of perfection through George, and successfully shows how all that glitters is not necessarily gold. (1263 words) Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE John Steinbeck section.