The Animal Within: Edward Albee’s Deconstruction of Human Privilege in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Ryan Thomas Jenkins (Creator)
Institution
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site: http://www.library.appstate.edu/
Advisor
Holly Martin

Abstract: In 1962, with the premiere of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? came a firestorm of ardent yet ambivalent responses from scholars and critics alike, who acknowledged the play’s dramatic intrigue but also its over exaggerated portrayal of the “battle of the sexes.” Albee’s theatrical spectacle disturbed many, and as a result, many reviewers and scholars began to use a notable discourse to discuss the play, calling the characters “diseased,” the language “murderous,” and the play as proof of civilization’s “decadence” or possessing the breadth of apocalypse. In this thesis, I argue that, in Who’s Afraid, Albee’s critique of human privilege (privilege related to class, gender, nationality, and ultimately humans’ perception of their “privilege” over animals) was a primary catalyst to this fervent response and can provide insight into how Albee’s particular technique of deconstructing the human/animal hierarchy yields a dramatic response from audiences.

Additional Information

Publication
Thesis
Jenkins, R.T. (2011). The Animal Within: Edward Albee’s Deconstruction of Human Privilege in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Unpublished master’s thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2011
Keywords
Edward Albee, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Animal Studies, 20th Century American Drama, Cold War Drama