Summary and Analysis
Act 1: Fun and Games:
Scene ii begins with the entrance of Nick and Honey and ends when Martha takes Honey to the bathroom, leaving George and Nick alone.
With the entrance of Nick and Honey, who have heard Martha scream her invective, "Screw You," Martha, Nick and Honey attempt some sort of diversionary conversations. George constantly shows his superior wit by his witty repartee. When Nick tries to make social conversation by commenting on an original oil painting, George responds that it was by "some Greek with a mustache Martha attacked one night. . . ." Thematically, this comment emphasizes Martha's aggressive nature and suggests her later attempts to seduce young Nick. The discussion shifts to a conversation about drinking, then to the remembrance of the ditty "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and ends with the discussion of the party at Martha's father's house. All of these interchanges are characterized by some of the wittiest dialogue in modern drama. But the dramatic interest in these witticisms lies in the fact that undoubtedly Martha and George have been saying exactly the same witty things over and over, year after year to new faculty members. It is not the first time that George has described Martha's drinking habits or the nature of her mind or the basic characteristics of Martha's father's parties. Consequently, we should remember that each comment is somewhat "fed" to the newcomers and that Martha and George are staging a "performance" for the young couple. It is important to establish that this "routine" exists in order to understand later on that the subject of their child has never been mentioned.
Just as Martha and Honey are leaving, George once again reminds Martha: "Just don't shoot your mouth off . . . about . . . you-know-what." This is another ominous warning, and we are further alerted when Martha threatens that she will "talk about any goddamn thing I want to." This now prepares the reader for the fact that when Martha does reveal something about "the kid" that drastic measures will have to be taken.