Moral Decadence in Edward Albee`s The Zoo Story


  • Lawend I. Mohammed Dept. of English Language, Faculty of Humanities, University of Zakho, Kurdistan Iraq Region-Iraq.
  • Baroj H. Abdi Dept. of English Language, Faculty of Humanities, University of Zakho, Kurdistan Iraq Region-Iraq.



Immorality, morality, class distinction, sexual perversion, absurdity, suicide.


The current study tackles the philosophical concept of moral decadence in the modern American play The Zoo Story by Edward Albee. The research concentrates on how specific characters tend to have low moral standards, and what detrimental and deteriorating effects of their immorality could harm the people around them. The research follows Aristotle`s philosophical concept of morality, what Greeks used to consider to be moral and immoral. Immanuel Kant`s views are also taken into account to measure characters` misconducts as well. As an existential play, the study sheds light on various social and family problems, such as poverty, lack of education, prostitution, hopelessness and bereavement. These appalling circumstances inevitably could have a tremendous effect on the low-class people in the American society of the late 1950s. Most notably, both Jerry and Petter are the embodiment of this society, where each one belongs to a distinct social class. The research exemplifies how such social predicaments could change the direction of each one of the mentioned characters. The main focus is on Jerry as he is the most talkative, absurdist, problematic, confused and suicidal character in the play.     


Albee, Edward, Edward Albee`s at Home and the Zoo, New York: Peter Mayer, 2011.

---- .Who is Afraid of Virgina Woolf? A Play , New York: Anthenum, 1970.

---.American Dream and the Zoo Story ,New York: Penguin Group, 1959.

Alqadhi, Yahya Ali Mutaher, and Sadashiv R. Pawar. "Invisibility of American Dream in Edward Albee’s The American Dream." International Journal of Research and Analytical Reviews, 7. (2020) 629-637.

Barstad, Guri, and Karen P. Knutsen, eds. States of Decadence: On the Aesthetics of Beauty, Decline and Transgression across Time and Space Volume 1. Vol. 1. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2016.

Anderson-Gold, Sharon, and Pablo Muchnik, eds. Kant's Anatomy of Evil. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Anggraini, Dehwinnur. Moral Decadence in Fitzgerard`s The Beautiful and Damned (1922) Novel: A Socio-Cultural Perspective. Surakarta: University of Surakarta, 2012.

Bailey, Joshua. “Freedom or slavery? The Harm in Legalizing Prostitution”. Critique: A Worldwide Journal of Politics (2010).

Bottoms, Stephen,ed. The Cambridge Companion to Edward Albee. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Danielsson, Alicia. “Legal Philosophical Considerations of Prostitution: A Roadmap to Understanding Diverse Legal Approaches to Prostitution in Europe”. Strathclyde Law Review (2017) 24-59.

Durkheim, Émile. Suicide A Study in Sociology. Trans. John A. Spaulding and George Simpson. London Taylor and Francis: 2005.

Fransson, Gӧran.“ Understanding Morality and Ethics: Maneuvering Ethical Dilemmas in Digital Educational Contexts”. University of Gävle,: IGI Global Publisher, (2017)72-73.

Harith, Ismaiel. "The Caged Soul: A Study of Edward Albee’s." Al-fatih Journal , 2009.

Hughes, J,Gerard. Aristotil On Ethics. London; Routledge, 2001.

Justin, O`Brien,trans, The Myth Of Sisyphus and Other Stories: New York: Vintage Books, 1955.

Kaibr, Kadhim Hatem, and Guo Jingjing. "Search for Self in Albee’s The Zoo Story." International Journal of Language and Literature, vol. 6, no. 1, June 2018, pp. 103-110. American Research Institute for Policy Development, ISSN: 2334-234X (Print), 2334-2358 .

Küçük, Hale. Edward Albee`s Drama Under the Influence of Samuel Beckett. MA Thesis, Çankaya: METU, 2008.

Mahmoudi, Fatma Houria. Albee’s Women Representation from The American Dream (1960) to The Goat or Who is Sylvia? 2020. MA Thesis. Mostaganem: University of Mostaganem, 2017.

Michael, Levin.“Why Homosexuality Is Abnormal?.”Contemporary Moral Arguments; Readings in Ethical Issues. Oxford University Press (2010): 232-237.

Nelson, Michael. On the Practical Irational of Immorality. California: University of California, 2018.

Pateman, Carole. “Defending Prostitution: Charges Against Ericsson Ethics.”University of Chicago 93 (1983): 561-566.

Regard, Frederic. “Moral Pornography or Ethical Rhetoric”. Journal of English Studies (2001): 265-274.

Richard B, Brant. Morality.Utilitarianism And Rights. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

Robert N, Bellah, ed. Emile Dorkheim On Morality And Society. Chicago: University Of Chicago Press, 1973.

Sigmund, Freud. Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality. Tran, and Ed. James Strachery. USA: Perseus Books Group , 2016.

Smith, Hedrick. Who Stole The American Dream. New York: Random House, 2012.

Tyson, Lois. Critical Theory Today. Routledge: New York, 2006.

Webster, Eddie. “ Moral Decay and Social Reconstruction: Richard Turner and Radical Reform”. Theoria: A Journal of Social and Political Theory. ( (1993):1-13.




How to Cite

Mohammed, L., & Abdi , B. (2024). Moral Decadence in Edward Albee`s The Zoo Story. Humanities Journal of University of Zakho, 12(2), 437–445.



Humanities Journal of University of Zakho