Of Self-Deception In Who's Afraid Of The Big Bad Wolf

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Edward Albee uses a series of techniques to portray and present this idea of self-deception in the play. From the very title, through to his symbolism and characterisation, Albee successfully strips away his characters false frontages, layer by layer, and reveals the inner conflicts occurring within his characters. From the beginning, Albee exercises this idea of illusion and self-deception. His title “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”, is a parody of “Who is Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf”, and metaphorically translates into “Who is afraid of living without false illusions” (which Albee admitted in one of his interviews). By alluding to Virginia Woolf, a writer famous for her stream of consciousness, Albee is creating an intellectual joke of both…show more content…
Nick and Honey, the young and seemingly perfect couple are constructed in such a way that they juxtapose George and Martha to make their relationship seem all the more dysfunctional, but they are also used as objects of manipulation to help reinforce many messages and ideas presented throughout the play. Albee constructs Nick and Honey as representatives of the “American dream”; a widespread concept adopted by many Americans in the 1950s where couples were promulgated to be perfect, carrying out their gender roles, living happily in fantasy. However, this societal belief of the time was an illusion in itself, and by Albee adapting his characters to follow such an unattainable façade he is setting their lives and marriage up for failure. Whilst trying to uphold this image of perfection the two characters are practicing self-deceit. They are trying to withhold a happy marriage, when in reality there is no love or affection between them, only discontent and pain. Nick is practising self-deception by believing marrying someone for their money and the wrong reasons will actually bring happiness, and that sleeping his way to success will actually work. Whereas Honeys unwillingness to bear children and accept responsibility represents denial of acceptance of her character as the perfect American and thus reveals her illusionary life. This is…show more content…
Whilst he does not turn to alcohol to repress his feelings, he engages in games and hides in his history books instead of standing up to conformity. Together, these two unhappy characters invent their imaginary son to fill the empty void of their lives. They approach him as a reflection of their own ideal selves and as a scapegoat figure, expressing their problems. For example, Martha says their son did not like George because he was unambitious and unsuccessful, whereas George said their son could not get away from Martha fast enough and her braying. As well as this, the child is a symbol for adulthood – their desire to move on from past childhood experiences that have caused their pain and entrapment. Overtime however, this illusion began intertwining with their reality, and becoming a weapon to use against each other. The quotation “Truth or illusion, George; you don’t know the different” emphasises this idea that the characters no longer understand what is real or fake and are stuck in a world of self-deception. This is emphasised further with “you’ve moved bag and baggage into your own fantasy world now, and you’ve started playing variations on your own distortions”. Albee employs these symbols and allusions to emphasise that living in a world (such as America at the time) full of illusion and misconception can only cause more destruction, and that if people are to be truly happy with their lives, they

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