The pagan elements in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
strengthen the main themes and plot of Albee's play. Martha's boisterousness
and sexuality make her a sort of pagan priestess, but one trapped by the
myths and illusions she has constructed in her worship. But George's
Latin burial service at last banishes the restless spirit who had so
haunted his relationship with Martha, and it bears away much of their
tortured past, making a fresh slate. Samhain has been fulfilled: the God
and Goddess begin again, to build a new, more fertile relationship between
themselves for the new year.
Page numbers for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? are taken
from the 1984 Atheneum edition.
Inspiration for this essay comes from a recent reading of Sir James George
Frazer's book The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion
(1950 MacMillan), and several years of study in Latin and Greek.