In the play, George and Martha invite a new professor and his wife to their house after a party. Martha is the daughter of the president of the university (believed to be based on Trinity College) where George is an associate history professor. Nick (who is never addressed or introduced by name) is a biology professor (who Martha thinks teaches math), and Honey is his mousy, brandy-abusing wife. Once at home, Martha and George continue drinking and engage in relentless, scathing verbal and sometimes physical abuse in front of Nick and Honey. The younger couple are simultaneously fascinated and embarrassed. They stay even though the abuse turns periodically towards them as well.