Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf

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Nick Character Analysis

Nick is a new professor at the college, in the biology department. Only twenty-eight years old, he is already highly accomplished—he earned his Master’s degree at the age of nineteen, and was a boxing champion in college. Young and ambitious, he provides a contrast to George, who is old and apparently unambitious. After a couple of drinks, however, Nick reveals that his life isn’t all it seems, when he admits that he didn’t marry Honey out of love.

Nick Quotes in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf

The Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf quotes below are all either spoken by Nick or refer to Nick . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Books edition of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf published in 1983.
Act 1 Quotes

Ha, ha, ha, HA! Make the kids a drink, George. What do you want, kids? What do you want to drink, hunh?

Related Characters: Martha (speaker), George , Nick , Honey
Related Symbols: Babies, Alcohol
Page Number: 23
Explanation and Analysis:

Nick and Honey have arrived at George and Martha's home and Martha––notably drunk herself––instructs her husband to make their guests a drink. Her overfamiliar tone and use of the word "kids" makes her sound like a mother offering her children a drink; the fact that the drinks in question are alcoholic, and that Martha herself is already very drunk, adds a disturbing twist to her question. Throughout the play, the characters reference children and recreate family dynamics, highlighting the conspicuous absence of children in the lives of both couples. 

This passage also reveals Martha's forceful personality and manipulation of those around her, and particularly of George. Rather than politely asking or suggesting that George make the drinks, Martha aggressively demands that he does so. This in turn highlights the more passive, weaker role George takes in their marriage. The hysterical laughter that precedes this demand further emphasizes Martha's volatile and intimidating character. The characters in the play frequently laugh, though this laughter almost always contains distinct undertones of hostility, fear, or hysteria; this illustrates the theme that beneath social pleasantries lie far more menacing dynamics.   

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Act 2 Quotes

It was a hysterical pregnancy. She blew up, and then she went down.

Related Characters: Nick (speaker), Honey
Related Symbols: Babies
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:

Honey has left the room to be sick and Martha is tending to her; alone with George, Nick has admitted that Honey is sick often, and confessed that he married her because they thought she was pregnant. As it turns out, it was a "hysterical pregnancy," meaning Honey believed she was pregnant and even had symptoms of pregnancy, yet was never actually pregnant at all. This fact about Honey conveys the intensity of her desire for children. Indeed, the unfulfilled wish to be parents causes both couples to act in strange and delusional ways. While "hysterical pregnancy" is a recognized clinical condition, the word "hysterical" is particularly fitting in a play populated by characters who frequently behave in a crazed, delirious manner.

Just before we got married, I developed…appendicitis…or everybody thought it was appendicitis…

Related Characters: Honey (speaker), Nick
Related Symbols: Babies
Page Number: 119
Explanation and Analysis:

Martha and Honey have returned, and Martha has demanded that George apologize for making Honey sick; Honey interjects that she gets sick often, and that before she was married she developed a condition that "everybody thought... was appendicitis." Because Nick has already told the real version of this story to George, the audience is aware that what actually happened to Honey was a hysterical pregnancy. This passage thus involves multiple layers of false appearances––Honey's false pregnancy, her lie that it was appendicitis, and even to some extent her marriage to Nick, which Nick has admitted took place to avoid scandal when they thought Honey was pregnant out of wedlock. Nick and Honey, whose marriage seemed respectable and harmonious at the play's outset, are revealed to lead lives consumed by secrecy and deceit in much the same way as George and Martha.

You told them! OOOOHHHH! OH, no, no, no, no! You couldn’t have told them…

Related Characters: Honey (speaker), Martha , George , Nick
Related Symbols: Babies
Page Number: 147
Explanation and Analysis:

George has played a game he calls "Get the Guests," in which he has told the other characters a thinly-veiled version of the story Nick confessed of Honey's hysterical pregnancy. Having realized that Nick must have told George her secret, Honey cries out in horror, exclaiming "you couldn't have told them." Honey's non-verbal cries of "OOOOHHHH!" in this passage convey her drunken and emotional state and make her seem childish. (This impression is emphasized by the fact that George has told the story like a children's tale, with Honey shown as a mouse who "puffs up.") Unlike the three other characters, who are all accustomed to taking part in intellectual rapport, Honey is characterized as earnest and unintelligent; she is not able to understand the ironic and absurdist ways in which George and Martha speak and interprets their words literally. 

This sense of earnestness translates to her relationship with Nick, whom she can't believe has betrayed her by telling George about her false pregnancy. Nick has repeatedly told George that he finds George and Martha's fighting and open discussion of their marital problems uncomfortable and inappropriate; however, at this moment it is revealed that Nick has done the same thing to Honey. This suggests that George and Martha are having a corrupting influence on the younger couple. At the same time, the fact that Nick and Honey's marriage seems to unravel so easily implies that the issues of dishonesty, secrecy, and betrayal plague all marriages, rather than being unique to George and Martha's exceptionally tumultuous relationship. 

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Nick Character Timeline in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf

The timeline below shows where the character Nick appears in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
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...he opens up the door, she yells at him, “Fuck you!,” such that their guests, Nick and Honey, hear it. Nick appears uncomfortable and proposes that he and his wife shouldn’t... (full context)
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Nick notices an abstract painting and inquires about the artist. George begins to explain that it... (full context)
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George prepares drinks for the crew—brandy for Honey, bourbon for Nick, and (jokingly) rubbing alcohol for Martha. George recounts that when he was first dating Martha,... (full context)
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...party, and Honey praises Martha’s father as marvelous. George tries to condition Honey’s compliment, but Nick insists that he has found the parties very helpful in getting introduced to the college.... (full context)
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Nick finally snaps back at George, tired of his antics. Nick explains that he doesn’t like... (full context)
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When George asks, Nick informs him that he is twenty-seven years old, and George responds that he himself is... (full context)
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After the second time that George insists that Nick is in Math, Nick corrects him that he is in the Biology department. It suddenly... (full context)
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George asks if Nick is going to be happy in New Carthage, given that the college isn’t MIT or... (full context)
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George lets Honey and Nick know that Martha is according them an honor by changing her dress, and characterizes her... (full context)
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...“old bog” in the History Department, but George coolly ignores her comments. Martha inquires if Nick used to play football, and he answers that he did but that he was more... (full context)
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...and he dismisses her but she insists and then places his hand on her breast. Nick retreats to the bathroom. Martha and George argue about whether Nick is in the biology... (full context)
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Nick tries to cut George off, displeased with his lecture, but George continues his harangue about... (full context)
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...mouse. He leaves to get some more alcohol. Martha begins to explain to Honey and Nick why her husband so hates her father, and details her adolescent life: she had gotten... (full context)
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...then Honey joins in before announcing that she’s going to be sick and running offstage. Nick and Martha run after Honey, leaving George alone on the stage. (full context)
Act 2
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Nick rejoins George, and Nick explains that his wife is frail and shouldn’t drink, and then... (full context)
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George asks Nick about his wife’s sickness, which Nick describes as occurring fairly frequently. This leads Nick to... (full context)
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...mill had heard of the boy’s mistaken order and began ordering “bergin” for themselves. At Nick’s prying, George tells what happened to the boy: the next summer, while driving with his... (full context)
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George and Nick continue to chat—Nick asks if George has any daughters, and George responds that he only... (full context)
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George begins in again on Nick’s marriage, and guesses that, in addition to the hysterical pregnancy, Honey has money. Nick lets... (full context)
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George explains his interest in Nick by identifying him as a threat. Nick plays along and jokingly describes his sneaky plans... (full context)
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...gets sick, though the doctors say there’s nothing wrong with her. Martha begins to tell Nick and Honey that their son also used to throw up all the time, whenever he... (full context)
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...choice of music. George calls Honey “angel tits” and ask if she’ll dance with him. Nick takes offense at this epithet. When a jazzy slow tune begins to play, Martha grabs... (full context)
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George yells at Martha that he will kill her and grabs her by the throat. Nick intervenes, and throws George onto the floor. George asks what other games they cam play... (full context)
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...Guests.” Honey announces that she’s going to be sick and runs out of the room. Nick promises that he’ll make George regret what he’s done as he leaves to care for... (full context)
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Nick reenters, leaving his wife on the bathroom floor, and apologizes for Honey’s behavior. George leaves... (full context)
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...Virginia Woolf,” and then returns with the ice bucket and says some unintelligible remark to Nick, which Nick brushes off. George offers drinks to Nick and Martha and says that he... (full context)
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...am, but he absorbs himself nonetheless in his book. She tells George that she and Nick will just amuse themselves. George distractedly endorses her plan. When she tells her husband that... (full context)
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Martha calls George a motherfucker, and after kissing Nick, instructs him to wait for her in the kitchen. When Nick has exited, Martha addresses... (full context)
Act 3
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Nick enters the room and comments that Martha, too, has gone crazy. He reports that when... (full context)
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Nick asks where George is and Martha responds that he’s vanished. Martha, with great affection, and... (full context)
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...asserting that there’s only one man in her life that has ever made her happy—George. Nick is incredulous, but Martha gives an elegant, if contradictory, defense of her love: “George who... (full context)
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Nick announces that he doesn’t think George has an intact vertebra. Martha challenges him, and criticizes... (full context)
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When Nick finally opens the door, he comes face to face with a bunch of snapdragons, hiding... (full context)
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George hands Nick the snapdragons and instructs him to put them in gin, but Nick drops them at... (full context)
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...be there for it. He makes hog calls toward the hallway to get Honey, but Nick goes and gets her himself. Martha tearfully begs George not to play any more games,... (full context)
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Honey enters the room with Nick, hopping like a bunny. George begins to discuss their son, despite Martha’s pleading. He prompts... (full context)
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...porcupine and drove straight into a… Martha cuts him off before he can finish, furious. Nick mutters “Oh my God,” and Martha continues yelling at George. George speaks coldly about the... (full context)
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...forth, her yelling “He is our child!” and him yelling “And I have killed him!” Nick quietly announces that he thinks he understands what’s going on. George explains that Martha broke... (full context)
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George proposes that the party should come to an end. Nick asks George if he and Martha couldn’t have any— and trails off. George and Martha... (full context)