• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month


Extracts from this document...


Marriage Marriage, the union of two people, is satirically presented by Evelyn Waugh in the novel 'A Handful of Dust' and by Edward Albee in the play 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?' Both authors adopt a chilling approach to demonstrate the endemic of negative attitudes and pressures of 1930's London and 1960's American society placed on to moral institutions such as marriage, with the central protagonists exposed under a powerful 'microscope' to reveal the detrimental effects of society. Albee illustrates the emotional strains inflicted on to individuals and couples aspiring to the American Dream and more importantly the result of failing a dream that is unreachable by the majority. In Albee's play, George and Martha are metaphysically exposed to the 'peeling away' of the illusion that surrounds their marriage to reveal the 'murky opaque depths' of reality. Waugh on the other hand shows the corrupt and barbaric upper class London society at the time of the Great Industrial Depression, evoking a story of Tony and his manipulative, 'cat like' wife Brenda's failing marriage, and that of the culture and civilisation Waugh so admired. Both Albee and Waugh employ the use of irony in their chosen settings. In 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?' as 'large, boisterous' Martha turns on the light the audience are subjected to an emotional battlefield. Set in a success driven university campus which is a microcosm of society, it is soon made clear it is not a place of learning, achievement and sophisticated culture, one of lust, deceptions and sadness, a place where 'musical beds is the faculty sport'. People like Martha are motivated by greed and self interest; this indicates the threat of America being New Carthage, destroyed not by another country but ...read more.


Truth is shown through non verbal, theatrical devices 'throwing flowers' and the use of a toy gun, creating desperate humour through deep anxiety and expectations. Speech is used to gain power and control in order to deceive others. Ironically George comments 'Martha's a devil with language' showing she is manipulative with her acerbic speech and has dominance in the relationship, '(Martha) wears the pants in this marriage because someone has to.' This use of clich�s shows a loss of capacity to speak the truth, 'Your in a straight line....and it doesn't lead anywhere....except maybe the grave' underlined by the root of terror in the play, the notion of life being meaningless. The regressive language is symbolic of the Martha and George being trapped by their childhoods and therefore they acquire attacking roles in a childish manner. However in contrast the callous Martha uses beautiful language when talking about their child, 'And his eyes were green...green with...if u peered so deep in to them...so deep...bronze...bronze parentheses around the irises...such green eyes' showing that when sincerity and love exists the aggressive language stops. At the end the simple, basic language, stripped of all metaphors and clich�s reflects the simple, basic reality that George and Martha now face. In contrast to Albee's use of vibrant and destructive language, in 'A Handful of Dust' conventional, banal and ordinary language dominates. Similarly to George and Martha, Brenda and Tony are shown in scenes of childlike playfulness. The alphabet diet is cute and endearing, but has an underlying tension as they are confined by the constraints the diet creates. The emptiness of the emotionless, large dining room they dine in which 'even today mild elsewhere, it was bitterly cold in the dining hall' further shows a lack of warmth between characters. ...read more.


Marriage as a religious bond makes the audience doubt the importance of religion when presented with a 'sewer' of a marriage. Religion is represented through Honeys father although it is corrupted by the mention of him having money which further questions Nicks motives for marrying Honey. At the end of the play the mystery of religion begins when language ends through the use of 'Jesus Christ.' Injuxtaposition Waugh makes little references to religion. Tony attends church on Sundays from which he gained 'great satisfaction.' 'On days of exceptional clearness, the spires of six churches' could be seen from Hetton instigating that it is Tony who includes religion in to his life not Brenda. Hetton is a city of romantism and fantasy rather than a city of God. Animal imagery is referred to in both texts, to emphasise the moral crudity of events taking place. As Nick 'mount(s) (Martha) like a goddam dog' in order to gain status, it shows the need to succeed overcomes morality. Martha an 'earth mother' is tolerant of the 'lunk heads' who strive for promotion using her in 'totally pointless infidelities.' Waugh however uses animal imagery to further his satirical approach and emphasise the farcical characters. Polly Cockpurse is referred to as being similar to a 'monkey' by John Andrew. Money orientated, she is a predator only acting for her own interests, after rich men for their money. Mrs Beaver similarly extends the satirical animal imagery by suggesting she like a beaver, digging for gossip. Both of these characters are deliberately ridiculous, highlighting the absurdity of the glamorous Belgravia backdrop in which these people are created. Similarly Waugh uses pathetic fallacy to emphasise characters' emotions and relationships. ...read more.

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.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE John Steinbeck essays

  1. Within the play, " Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf," written by Edward Albee, there ...

    where George has failed, by becoming the head of the biology department or perhaps even the President of the University. George is made to envy Nick through the snide comments of his wife Martha. " Hey, you must be quite a boy, getting your masters when you were...what?...twelve?

  2. Compare how the themes of nature and landscape are used and presented in 'A ...

    The road to it is narrow and twisting, with thick foliage either side so that 'one found one's eyes struggling to cope with the sudden contrasts of bright sunshine and deep shade'. This parallels Stevens' journey so far and the personal struggles he has had to overcome to arrive at this point in time.

  1. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

    "Well, I'm tired.... If your father didn't' set up these goddamn Saturday night orgies all the time..." Again this is another quote that shows that George is resentful of Martha's father, as he feels second best to him. Martha's father is like the third party in the marriage and George is always being compared to him constantly.

  2. Examine George, Martha and Nick's responses to the totalitarian vision of the future and ...

    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?"

  1. Compare the Opening and Closing Scenes

    He loves George and treats him as the most important person in his life. Each time when Lennie realizes he has done something wrong, he always try to please George and quell--calm his anger, because he is afraid George will leave him.

  2. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf by

    He plays the killer and the preach. The bang with the gun has also a symbolic meaning .It is the act of killing the past. George says: "When people can't abide things as they are, when they can't abide the present, they do one of two things ;either they turn

  1. Utilitarianism on Morality and Sanctions

    in properly cultivated moral natures rises, in the more serious cases, into shrinking from it as an impossibility. This feeling...is the essence of conscience." Mill's claim, thus is that one must always act according to one's internal sanctions, to one's morals and conscience.

  2. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? In What Way Does The Opening Dialogue Help to ...

    However this disregard causes frustration to surface within the essentially patient and sympathetic George leading to the blasphemous out burst of 'For Christ's sake, Martha', it is here that we understand that both characters are frustrated with their situation, however cannot appear to communicate about it with each other.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work