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

The struggle for power in Abigail's party and Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Extracts from this document...


Edward Albee's "Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and Mike Leigh's "Abigail's Party" can both be defined as disturbing and powerful works. Ironically, they are equally compelling for many of the same reasons. Both plays similarly reflect the constant struggle for power in relationships, describing the commonality of a dysfunctional marriage which was not uncommon during this time period as women became less committed to "staying together for the sake of the kids"1, doubling the divorce rate. The two characters, Beverly and Martha similarly represent one another and can be considered to be two individual overbearing personalities helping to portray the immense deception of suburban life. Both Albee and Leigh present the audience with female protagonists who exert forceful power over their partners. Albee reveals that Martha is the dynamic agent in "Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf?" emphasising her brash, assertive nature which is used to tear savagely with the "knives of hurled words, sharpened on pain and aimed to draw blood"2, the way in which Martha relentlessly attacks George is awful to see, yet strangely familiar in modern day society. ...read more.


George is a sarcastic, biting character of which Albee focuses to have a strong sense of witty humour. He is portrayed as a character to immediately follow the orders of Martha, however ridiculous and absurd they may be. This therefore changes the power dynamics of the stereotypical, 1920's couple. George is introduced with a strong, intellectual knowledge, being able to outwit and correct, perhaps with "somebody"6 and uses this same advantage to humiliate Martha and his guests with her own little game by being responsive to her behaviour. George uses this as a destructive attack against Martha. "Martha's a devil with language"7 shows George's dark, sarcastic humour used to embarrass Martha in front of her guests as she is expectant of an outburst in conflict of opinion, whereas George responds in a laid-back manner type approach. Reflectively, Nick and George also try to have the last word to gain an advantage over each other by using their intelligence. ...read more.


Laurence also uses his cultural superiority and intellectuality towards his guests. As he aspires to the finer things in life, Laurence enforces his knowledge on his guests at unfortunate moments. Nick and George have already been portrayed to be in direct competition towards each other, whereas Laurence and Angela may also have a similar rivalry when he corrects her about Tudor houses in attempt to appear more cultured and refined. "No Angela - Mock Tudor"12 is a direct representation of Laurence's attempt to show his intellectual knowledge, yet again exerting power over his guests through mockery. 1 Mike Leigh, Abigail's Party, (London, Penguin Books, 1977), pg.26 2 http://www.cyberpat.com/shirlsite/essays/whosafr.html 3 Edward Albee, Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf? (London, Vintage Books, 1963), pg.3 4 Carroll & Graf, Edward Albee Stretching My Mind (2005) 5 Mike Leigh, pg.10 6 Edward Albee, pg.2 7 Edward Albee, pg.10 8 Edward Albee, pg.15 9 Edward Albee, pg.1 10 Edward Albee, pg.18 11 Mike Leigh, pg.14 12 Mike Leigh, pg.55 ?? ?? ?? ?? Express the constant struggle for power in "Who's afraid of Virginia Wool?" and "Abigail's Party". 1 | Page ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Other Criticism & Comparison 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 AS and A Level Other Criticism & Comparison essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    The English Patient

    5 star(s)

    There, like Kip, he has found his skills were most useful, and feels able to erase his past so that he may be known and valued for what he has to offer the people of his new nation, the desert.

  2. In what ways are Gatsby and George Wilson similar or dissimilar, to whom is ...

    this may be down to the fact that he is too set upon retrieving Daisy to have anytime for others. The only circumstance that he has friends is when they are a means to an end with Gatsby, as he only manipulates them to get something out of them.

  1. Comparing "The Supernaturalist" by Eoin Colfer to "1984" by George Orwell

    When Winston saw them, they were sitting isolated from everyone else ("It was not wise even to be seen in the neighborhood of such people"), drinking the cafe's specialty, gin flavored with cloves. Only Rutherford is described in detail. He is said to be a large broken-down man, giving the impression of having once been powerful.

  2. Unhappy Constant

    Hemingway makes the hollowness and hopelessness of Barnes's world very clear with numerous examples where outer joy masks inner misery. When Barnes first meets Brett Ashley, a woman he loves, she seems happy dancing with her friends. When they are by themselves in a cab however, she immediately says, "Oh, darling, I've been so miserable" (Hemingway 29).

  1. Compare how Golding and Stevenson portray uncivilised behaviour in The

    After his election as chief over Jack, he immediately seeks to appease the loser, by suggesting that he dictate the actions of his choir during their time on the island. Although it is Ralph that reveals Piggy's embarrassing nickname, he is not malicious with it and apologizes, 'I'm sorry if you feel like that'.

  2. Compare and contrast American playwrights presentation of masculinity in Death of a Salesman, Whos ...

    Moreover the ideal of success in presenting masculinity is used in ?D of S.? w***y?s obsession with success warps his mind-set and as Bert Cardullo states ?he confuses materialistic success with a worthiness for love.?[1] This perfectly summaries how an unhealthy importance placed on being ?well liked? and successful leads

  1. How do the characters in the plays Whos Afraid of Virginia Woolf and Cat ...

    Maggie has created a version of reality in which Brick will have a child with her, and is to some extent still in love with her. Brick has an alternate illusion in which he can still pretend to be a sports star and in which he is not deeply hurt by the death of Skipper.

  2. Compare and contrast how power and control is presented in Whos Afraid of Virginia ...

    The first real show of physical power and control comes mid-way through Act One. George and Martha's guests have arrived to the dissatisfaction of George, who try's his best to intimidate and belittle them.

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