Despite the shocking topic in The Goat or Who is Sylvia?, the play deals with Edward Albee"s old themes about the nature of love and understanding as well as the false values that replace the real ones in American society as he stated in the preface to The American Dream. This paper examines how Albee presents the false values and how they affect the different relationships in the play. The paper also discusses why the subtitle, Notes Toward a Definition of Tragedy, is valid for the play. The Goat is not as concerned with bestiality as it seems. Martin"s relationship with Sylvia, a goat, is unlike any relationship that Martin has had with people, including his wife. Ross and Stevie miss the major point in Martin"s description of his encounter with Sylvia because they have not had such spiritual experiences as Martin has had. Sylvia and bestiality have metaphorical meanings. Sylvia is a metaphor for an object of love that helps Martin or anyone to achieve an enlightenment or a spiritual awareness. The act of bestiality is a metaphor for spiritual communion--Martin states that he loves Sylvia"s soul. Ross and Stevie lack the experiences to understand Martin"s experience with "holy, fair, and wise" Sylvia and consequently take actions which lead to a destructive and disastrous resolution. Ross reveals Martin"s affairs with Sylvia to Stevie, and Stevie slays Sylvia whom she considers to be her rival. Even though Martin"s relationship with Sylvia and Stevie"s action cause sadness, Sylvia"s death or Martin"s downfall are not the major tragic elements. Rather, Ross"s betrayal of Martin"s friendship and Stevie"s revenge on Sylvia are reminiscent of American society where people are intolerant of those who do not fit their standards. In other words, it is tragic to live in a society which is deprived of spiritual values and lacks understanding. Albee attacks Ross and Stevie who represent the ordinary and normal people of the society, and sympathizes with Martin who searches for the answers to life"s questions, seems to find it, and loses it again in the end.
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