Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf

The Hidden Wish of Words: Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Three Tall Women

A reader reading Albee will not fail to notice tricks of language in operation; a more interesting analysis is to consider how the characters themselves are aware of language, of reading and being read, as a text, by other characters. AlbeeÃÂÂs plays, WhoÃÂÂs Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Three Tall Women, show the obsession with language and its functions, both good and terrifying. WhoÃÂÂs Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is as much about censorship, the attempts to limit speech, as it is about playacting and generating through language. Three Tall Women, as a memory play, exposes language as the primary form of discovery. In both works, the characters engage language in ways that may begin lightly though never without meaning.

WhoÃÂÂs Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, to begin with, takes its title from a pun, seemingly not a very meaningful one, unless we read it as a reversal of the traditional childrenÃÂÂs tale and acknowledge that a female has substituted for the male monster. But if we accept the idea of the pun as betraying ÃÂÂthe hidden wish of words,ÃÂ? then we are thrown into a world where every verbal choice matters whether we understand it or not. Indeed, by entering the house with George and Martha, we enter exactly this world,...

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