Thursday, April 4, 2013

What does Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? actually have to do with Virginia Woolf?

When I was sixteen, I watched the movie Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in an effort to experience the entire filmography of Elizabeth Taylor (I’m a big fan). However at the time, I was not overly familiar with Virginia Woolf or her work and therefore I never actually contemplated what Virginia Woolf had to do with the movie. The title of the movie comes from the song “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?” which Elizabeth Taylor’s character Martha sings, changing “big bad Wolf” to “Virginia Woolf” as she sings it drunkenly.
Besides this mention of Virginia Woolf, I don’t think it is a stretch to draw out Woolf related plot elements. The movie takes place on a college campus as George, Martha’s husband is a professor. The examination of a place of academia reminded me of Woolf’s contemplation of women at “Oxbridge” because although George is the academic, Martha is the more ambitious one and is disappointed that George has not had as prestigious a career as she would have liked and during the time of the film would have been difficult for her to achieve. 
I think that the examination of the couples is also reminiscent of Woolf. George and Martha try in vain to keep up appearances but it is immediately evident to Nick and Honey, the young couple they are entertaining, just how bad their marriage is. Even though the Dalloways never reveal any discontent in their marriage, besides Richard kissing Rachel, the desire to keep up an image of a certain type of marriage is present even though George and Martha fail.
The last thing that struck me as an element of Woolf (which may be a stretch) is the juxtaposition of couples. We have George and Martha, a middle aged couple, being compared to Nick and Honey who are comparatively innocent and newly married. This reminded me of the other couples that Rachel and Terrence encounter in The Voyage Out and the different views on marriage that each offers.
This is just my take on the film, but it is a really wonderful movie and everyone should see it if they get the chance!

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