Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf

George Character Analysis

George is an associate professor in the History Department at the college. He is forty-six years old. Martha describes George’s career as a failure, and purports to have married him because her father had once seen George as a protégé and potential future president of the college. According to Martha, her father changed his mind about George’s future after witnessing his weakness and impotence. At times throughout the play, George exhibits his professor-like erudition, as when he speaks in Latin and elegantly defends the study of History, but each time, Martha dismisses him as pretentious. His character, as is apparent in this description, is largely defined by Martha’s descriptions of him, which further supports the passivity that Martha accuses him of, until the end of the play when he cruelly retaliates with the false news of their son’s death.

George Quotes in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf

The Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf quotes below are all either spoken by George or refer to George. 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:
Imperfect Marriage Theme Icon
). 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:

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Musical beds is the faculty sport around here.

Related Characters: George (speaker)
Page Number: 34
Explanation and Analysis:

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Do you believe that people learn nothing from history? Not that there is nothing to learn, mind you, but that people learn nothing? I am in the History Department.

Related Characters: George (speaker)
Page Number: 37
Explanation and Analysis:

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He was going to be groomed. He’d take over someday…until [Daddy] watched for a couple of years and started thinking maybe it wasn’t such a good idea after all…that maybe Georgie boy didn’t have the stuff…that he didn’t have it in him!

Related Characters: Martha (speaker), George
Page Number: 84
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 2 Quotes

In the hospital, when he was conscious and out of danger, and when they told him that his father was dead, he began to laugh, I have been told, and his laughter grew and he would not stop, and it was not until after they jammed a needle in his arm, not until after that, until his consciousness slipped away from him, that his laughter subsided.

Related Characters: George (speaker)
Page Number: 96
Explanation and Analysis:

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Our son ran away from home all the time because Martha here used to corner him.

Related Characters: George (speaker), Martha
Related Symbols: Babies
Page Number: 120
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:

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Act 3 Quotes

I cry all the time too, Daddy. I cry allllll the time; but deep inside, so no one can see me. I cry all the time. And George cries all the time, too.

Related Characters: Martha (speaker), George
Related Symbols: Babies, Alcohol
Page Number: 185
Explanation and Analysis:

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George who is out somewhere there in the dark…George who is good to me, and whom I revile; who understands me, and whom I push off.

Related Characters: Martha (speaker), George
Page Number: 190
Explanation and Analysis:

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I’M RUNNING THE SHOW! (To MARTHA) Sweetheart, I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news for you…for us, of course. Some rather sad news.

Related Characters: George (speaker), Martha
Related Symbols: Babies
Page Number: 229
Explanation and Analysis:

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I FORGET! Sometimes…sometimes when it’s night, when it’s late, and…and everybody else is…talking…I forget and I…want to mention him…but I…HOLD ON…I hold on…but I’ve wanted to…so often…oh, George, you’ve pushed it…there was no need….there was not need for this. I mentioned him…all right…but you didn’t have to push it over the EDGE. You didn’t have to…kill him.

Related Characters: Martha (speaker), George
Related Symbols: Babies
Page Number: 237
Explanation and Analysis:

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George Character Timeline in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf

The timeline below shows where the character George appears in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Imperfect Marriage Theme Icon
Appearance, Secrecy, and Truth-Telling Theme Icon
...heard at the front door, followed by Martha’s laughter. Martha enters through the front door, George following behind her. Martha begins to curse, and George tries to silence her, reminding her... (full context)
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Martha goes on to describe the movie, but George pleads that he’s tired from her father’s “Saturday night orgy.” Martha nags him for doing... (full context)
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Martha orders George to make her a drink and informs him that they have guests coming over, but... (full context)
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George and Martha continue to bicker—George accuses her of springing things on him like this, and... (full context)
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They continue on in this vein, Martha calling George a “simp” and “phrasemaker”, and George comparing Martha to a cocker spaniel when she chews... (full context)
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The front doorbell interrupts their antagonistic banter, George very reluctantly goes to answer it as he provokes Martha. At the very moment that... (full context)
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Nick notices an abstract painting and inquires about the artist. George begins to explain that it was made by a Greek man that Martha attacked one... (full context)
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George prepares drinks for the crew—brandy for Honey, bourbon for Nick, and (jokingly) rubbing alcohol for... (full context)
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...in. They begin to discuss the night’s 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... (full context)
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Nick finally snaps back at George, tired of his antics. Nick explains that he doesn’t like to become involved in other... (full context)
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When George asks, Nick informs him that he is twenty-seven years old, and George responds that he... (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... (full context)
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George asks if Nick is going to be happy in New Carthage, given that the college... (full context)
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George lets Honey and Nick know that Martha is according them an honor by changing her... (full context)
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Martha insults George, calling him an “old bog” in the History Department, but George coolly ignores her comments.... (full context)
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Martha encourages George to tell their guests about a boxing match they once had together, but he insists... (full context)
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George comes from behind Martha and aims a short-barreled shotgun at her head. Honey screams when... (full context)
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...and then places his hand on her breast. Nick retreats to the bathroom. Martha and George argue about whether Nick is in the biology or math department, and Honey shyly tells... (full context)
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Nick tries to cut George off, displeased with his lecture, but George continues his harangue about the consequences of the... (full context)
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Honey changes the subject by asking when George and Martha’s son is coming home. Martha says never mind, and George makes Martha answer... (full context)
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Martha and George dispute the color of their son’s eyes. George adds that Martha’s father has tiny red... (full context)
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Martha is just beginning to describe George’s entrance onto the college scene, when George returns to the parlor. Martha narrates that she... (full context)
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George breaks a bottle against the portable bar and nearly cries, but Martha does not relent,... (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 tells George... (full context)
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George asks Nick about his wife’s sickness, which Nick describes as occurring fairly frequently. This leads... (full context)
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George tells a story from his adolescence: when he was in prep school, during Prohibition, he... (full context)
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George and Nick continue to chat—Nick asks if George has any daughters, and George responds that... (full context)
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George begins in again on Nick’s marriage, and guesses that, in addition to the hysterical pregnancy,... (full context)
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George explains his interest in Nick by identifying him as a threat. Nick plays along and... (full context)
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Martha mentions another embarrassing disappointment of George’s—that he tried to publish a book, but was prevented by Martha’s father. Honey requests some... (full context)
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Martha discloses more of George’s embarrassing history: he wrote a novel, but when her father read the novel he was... (full context)
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George yells at Martha that he will kill her and grabs her by the throat. Nick... (full context)
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By the end of the story, when George is describing how “the Mouse” (his name for Honey) got all puffed up, Honey stands... (full context)
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Martha congratulates George for his performance, judging it to be the most life he’s shown in a while,... (full context)
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Nick reenters, leaving his wife on the bathroom floor, and apologizes for Honey’s behavior. George leaves with a bucket to get ice for Honey. When George has gone, Martha asks... (full context)
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George sings “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” and then returns with the ice bucket and says... (full context)
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George says that he’s going to go read a book, because he always reads around four... (full context)
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Martha calls George a motherfucker, and after kissing Nick, instructs him to wait for her in the kitchen.... (full context)
Act 3
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...alone on the stage, echoing pieces of conversation from the previous scene, and searching for George. She makes herself a drink, whines about her abandonment, and then performs an imaginary exchange... (full context)
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Nick asks where George is and Martha responds that he’s vanished. Martha, with great affection, and in a brogue... (full context)
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...by 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... (full context)
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Nick announces that he doesn’t think George has an intact vertebra. Martha challenges him, and criticizes his microscopic vision—claiming that he has... (full context)
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...finally opens the door, he comes face to face with a bunch of snapdragons, hiding George behind them. George enters, naming the flowers as “flores para los muertos,” and calling Nick... (full context)
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George hands Nick the snapdragons and instructs him to put them in gin, but Nick drops... (full context)
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George announces that they have one more game to play—“bringing up baby”—but insists that everyone be... (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 Martha to take over, and... (full context)
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...parenting. She concludes that their son is away at college and everything is fine, but George insists that she continue. Martha refuses. Martha accuses George of lying, but George continues. Martha... (full context)
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Honey, hysterical, screams for them to stop it, telling them they “can’t…do…this!” George tells Martha that he has some bad news about their son. He reports that while... (full context)
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Martha and George go back and forth, her yelling “He is our child!” and him yelling “And I... (full context)
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George proposes that the party should come to an end. Nick asks George if he and... (full context)
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George puts his hand on Martha’s shoulder and begins singing, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.” Martha... (full context)