In Albee’s play, he reveals the shallowness and meaninglessness of contemporary society, and exposes the falsity of “The American Dream”. In doing this he refers to many different facets of society such as alcohol, social conventions, measures of success and corruption on a number of levels. Violence manifested in both language and action, reflect the frustration of the characters in not being able to live up to society’s expectations. “The America Dream” is a life lived to, or close to, perfection.
In brief, this perfect life is achieved by having a good education, go into a well paying career of which you enjoy, raising a family with the 2. 5 children, and then finally dying in piece without ever having to look back on your life with disappointment. It is said that whoever has goals and sets them are capable of achieving them as long as they are willing to work hard for it. But “The American Dream” is just what is says, it is just a “Dream”. It is a dream dreamt by many. An immigrant coming to America or any western civilization has these dreams.
The dream of being able to live a life of perfection, a life of freedom. Edward Albee takes this “American Dream” and conveys it in it’s true form in his play, Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?. In writing this play, he exposes the falseness of “The American Dream” and shows the audience of what this “Dream” really consists of. When asked of what exactly “The American Dream” is, people often reply with uncertainty and doubt in their answers. “The American Dream” does have it’s definition, but since it is only a “dream”, reality in comparison is almost an exact opposite.
Persons who are not familiar with this reality and still dream this dream, has been falsely informed, and do not know what the reality is. This reality is full of illusion, falseness, and deceit. In his play, Albee takes western society as a whole and places it under one household. He shows what western society is through his characters. He shows “The American Dream” in it’s true form and not as it has been put out to be. In just one night, factors of western society are conveyed – violence, alcohol, lies, deceit, conflict, – along with those who participate.
Through his characters, Albee was able to reveal the different types of people who make up society today. Each character represents the different approaches people have taken towards reality and life. Those who are still young and have not really experienced life and are therefore kind of clueless is represented by Honey while those who have had a good education, has a bright looking future ahead of them, and looks to become very successful, those who have been named “yuppies” are represented by Nick. He is “the wave of the future”.
In a sense, “The American Dream” is actually represented by Martha’s farther who does not actually appear in the play but is frequently brought up into conversation by George and Martha. “The American Dream” is something everyone wants and to get to it they must follow a blueprint. This blueprint is Martha’s father. He is someone who is looked up to by others and these others try to replicate him. His steps should be followed directly and if so, there you have “The American Dream”. But followers aren’t always successful in the following of the blueprint.
Their inability to do so may include many factors. Not many people know that “The American Dream” require more than just pure effort. There are other things which cannot be controlled. It is said that as long as you give all of yourself, you will succeed. But what if your all is not enough. This is the case with George. “… he was … A great big flop” As the daughter of “The American Dream”, Martha has taken life and reality very lightly. She is without real care and believes that she does not need to follow the blueprint of “The American Dream”.
She doesn’t put in the effort and therefore lives life and reality with a lot of instability. She is only able to go through life without failure because she is daughter of her father. Without the fact of being her father’s daughter, Martha would have lived a very very poor and unhealthy life. Nick and Honey have only recently arrived into town and are just still settling in getting to know the place. Nick and Honey represent the many young couples in today’s society. They were married at a young age, and married for a non traditional reason.
They know from what they have been told through their education but they still do not have knowledge from their own experience to life. In only recently coming to town, Albee uses this to convey the message that Nick and Honey have only recently arrived to life and reality. They have just recently arrived and are trying to get settled in and learn the ropes of life and reality. As the night continues, more and more do Nick and Honey learn just like how any teenager today would learn about life and society as it is today. They learn about the falseness about “The American Dream” and what it truly is.
As the play continues through the night, more of today’s western society is implemented into this micro-society that Albee has created within the play. Violence, conflict, and the use of alcohol are more of the important ones that Albee has implemented. The use of alcohol throughout the play is very extensive. This shows that Albee feels very strong about the subject of alcohol abuse in today’s western society. Albee shows that the true “American Dream” as a reality can be so bad that people who are not able to cope with it resort to the use of alcohol as a way of release from reality.
Along with alcohol, those who aren’t able to cope use fantasy to escape from the pressures of life. Instead of facing up to reality, people create their own “reality”. They create these false realities to help them cope with or just totally escape true reality. This is a path taken by many because it is an easy way out. This “reality” that they have created is very malleable and can be shaped to meet their needs. This is the case with Martha. Martha has not taken life and reality as it is and just tried to live with it.
She is unable to cope with reality and so creates he own “reality”. But with creating her own reality, she has not been totally fictional but has blended both reality and her “reality” into one. She took her life problems and copes with them in her own little way – by creating her own world in which she can more easily cope. In creating her own reality, she becomes very involved into her made up world and almost nearly forgets about reality. As long as more problems come into her life, instead of facing them head on, she quickly converts them to snugly fit into her own “reality”.
Her son, for example, has been manifested to use as a kind of tool for her and George to use. “… he’s a bean bag. ” Martha uses her son to cope with her problems with George a lot easier. Both Martha and George use their son to get at each other’s throats instead of having to do it directly. But Martha becomes so immensely involved in her “reality” that she has created which has combined true reality with hers that in the end, she has confused herself in that she is no longer to tell the difference between the true reality around her and the reality that she has created.
Truth and illusion. Who knows the difference? ” Through the play. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? , Albee has been successful in conveying the falseness of “The American Dream”. He has taken western society as it is today as whole and has shown his audience the reality of “The American Dream” in it’s true form. He has stated that ‘The American Dream” is only an illusion. The play is his, “demonic urge to expose what he takes to be the falseness of the American Dream” (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? study guide).