Oleanna by David Mamet

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Oleanna by David Mamet The fast pace, repetition and interruptions evident in the interaction between Carol and John are clear illustrations of the unwritten contest to have the last word and be right in act 1. The use of these dramatic and linguistic techniques are what make the interaction between the two characters so fascinating. Both are constantly struggling to keep their dignity and reputation. On page 11, Carol pleads ' teach me. Teach me'. Although this is imperative, the context in which it is said suggests that she uses it passively in quite a begging, pleading manner. The active verb also demonstrates her impatience towards education and frustration with not understanding. In response, John pleads ?I?m trying to teach you.? He then becomes the passive subject in attempt to reason and level himself with carol. Page 10 shows Mamet cleverly using irony to show how John is so unaware of his behaviour, the language he uses and the effects of which. He says ?I can?t talk now?. Demonstrating the fact that he is clearly an intelligent man who is unable to communicate or answer direct questions. Similar to that of a political figure, persuading the audience to associate him with power and authority. This is then confirmed on page 13 when he suddenly takes a very formal and authoritative tone with Carol. Because their meeting ?was not a scheduled meeting? John says he is unable to talk to her. Representing the hierarchy that is still firmly in place between the interactions of these two characters. The hegemony is quite clear here and is supported by Carol?s breakdown on page 14. Here it is as though Mamet is suggesting that language divides us. That language provides barriers from one culture to... ... middle of paper ... ...niversities are in place to test the students; professors and lecturers are actually more often put to the test. It is this message that I believe Mamet conveys in act 1 through his use of ringing telephones, irony and symbolised hegemony. That because John will be penalised either way for his behaviour, whether it be obscured academic language, or inappropriate reasoning with students, he has no way out of his place in the hierarchy. And that because the audience will see this, the insight into his life allows us to pity and appreciate him and feel the awkwardness the educational society creates for everyone inside it, both the bottom and the top of the ladder. Works Cited: Mamet, David. Oleanna: A Play in Two Acts. The Best Plays of 1992-1993. Eds. Otis L. Guernsey, Jr. and Jeffrey Sweet. New York: Limelight, 1993. 150-164

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