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Comparison of Virginia Woolf by Albee and The Tempest

Uploaded by xsparklyvix on Sep 06, 2005

“A drama of lost illusions, of bitter wisdom and fragile hope.”

How appropriate is this description of the two plays you have studied?

Shakespeare and Albee have both used the purging of artifices to create a changed future for all characters. Although forced, these allow the possibility of a greater future based upon truth and reality rather than facades.
The breaking down of illusions is essential in both plays in order to create a new beginning. In ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf’ George’s exorcism of their illusionary son ‘Dominus Vobiscum’ removes the symbolic figure they have created in order to cover up their insecurity of not having a child. By purging their lives of this child it forces both George and Martha to confront these inadequacies of being unable to have children. Shakespeare uses a similar exorcism in ‘The Tempest’ in order to show, akin to Albee, that in using an illusion you are avoiding reality and in this the truth. Prospero orchestrates illusions throughout ‘The Tempest’ in order to delude the other characters into feeling emotions such as guilt and anxiety. Through the use of his agent, Ariel, he creates a banquet designed to emote remorse for Antonio and Sebastian for their usurpation of the Dukedom. By renouncing these powers at the end of the play Prospero is accepting a life of reality without his ‘secret studies’. Prospero and George are alike in their role as the ringmaster of the removal of the illusions. Both characters felt compelled to act in this way in order to start a new foundation based upon truth.
Yet, the reactions of others to these actions are strongly contrasted between the two plays. In ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf’ Martha is unable to cope with life full of veracity ‘Truth or Illusion, George. Doesn’t it matter to you…at all?’ The child enabled her to feel complete and adequate in an American pressurised society she struggles to cope with. In disparity, the female lead in ‘The Tempest’ Miranda embraces her new way of life ‘O Brave New World’. Having lived in a life of illusions (shown in her enforced sleep by Ariel at the outset of the play, to allow Prospero to converse in secret) she welcomes change.
In brutally revealing these illusions to all the characters in both plays, Albee and Shakespeare show how for all characters life has changed irreversibly. However, despite being changes based on...

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Uploaded by:   xsparklyvix

Date:   09/06/2005

Category:   Plays

Length:   5 pages (1,017 words)

Views:   7906

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