Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

I am going to put this to bed once and for all:

Q. Is there a connection between Virginia Woolf and ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’

A. No. Well not really. Well a bit I suppose.

The play, by Edward Albee, 1962, uses Virginia Woolf’s name in the title but other than that there is little connection. The title alludes to ‘who’s afraid of the big bad wolf’ more than to Virginia and represents the child like characters. There are similarities between Virginia and the protagonists, Martha and George, in that the couple shows signs of being bipolar and both are childless but not that much else.

Virginia wrote of the human experience, through emotion and thought, but the couples in the play try to hide from all this and conceal the truth of their lives. The main couple invents a ‘son’ to hide their distress at being infertile.

The play’s themes of imperfect families, secrets, professional failure and marriage breakdowns don’t resonate particularly with Virginia’s life anymore than they do with anyone else’s. But, there is the academic side to it; Virginia is a complex and intellectually demanding writer and the academic characters in the play would not like to admit that they were ‘afraid of her’.


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