Death Game and the Survival of Self in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?


  • Samira Sasani Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran
  • Elham Haghrezaei Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran


Edward Albee, R. D. Laing, Divided Selves, Anxiety, Existential being.


Throughout decades Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Has been considered for its vivid depiction of two modern individuals’ game which dissolves not even others but themselves. Drawing on the theoretical framework of Laing, this game can be viewed and analyzed as the two individuals’ battle for survival. The existential world depicted by Laing is a lonesome inner world of an individual who’s self is divided in the face of a threatening outside world. The torturing anxieties through which he sees and defines the world skin him, bit by bit, with every breath he takes and the opposing forces from within enlarges the vacuum which is his deathbed. These conflicting needs are the driving forces which define George and Martha’s relationship. They both are victims of tormenting and existentially threatening situations which have taught them to preserve their true selves within by disarming and attacking the other. That which seems to be yearn for power is essentially their struggle to protect themselves, or in other words, their true selves. Having a precariously differentiated sense of identity, both fear any contact with the real world while being aware of their inevitable need for this realness to survive. In this Article, first the existential theories of R. D. Laing will be thoroughly explained and the second effort will be to shed new light on Albee’s two characters, Martha and George, while digging into the deepest recesses of their being; the most invisible depths which fuel all their seemingly perspicuous actions.

Author Biographies

Samira Sasani, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran

Samira Sasani
Assistant Prof. of English Literature at Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran

Elham Haghrezaei, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran

Elham Haghrezaei
M.A. Graduate of English Literature, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran




How to Cite

Sasani, S., & Haghrezaei, E. (2019). Death Game and the Survival of Self in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. LiBRI. Linguistic and Literary Broad Research and Innovation, 8(1), 17-27. Retrieved from

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