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

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Express the constant struggle for power in “Who’s afraid of Virginia Wool?” and “Abigail’s Party”.

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”, 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”, the way in which Martha relentlessly attacks George is awful to see, yet strangely familiar in modern day society. Albee uses power dynamics to create tension in the play. Albee portrays Martha as a forceful character, emphasising on her power, physical and mental strength in the quotation “I don’t bray!” Martha is shown to be a loud, vulgar and brash woman in this quotation, typically opposing the commonality of the housewife at that time.

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Albee helps to express the familiarity of these characters in modern day society by describing that “most of my plays are not tied to time”, similarly obtaining an influence on modern day society. As compared to Martha, Beverly also appears to be the most dominant, forceful character in “Abigail’s party”, depicted by an artificial, imitated, inauthentic or derivative dialogue. Leigh expresses the physical strength of this character by showing her intimidating nature towards her partner in “Oh, Christ, Laurence”.

Comparably, the lead males in both works also present the image of their intellectual and cultural superiority through knowledge. George is ...

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