Nov 26, 2020 in Coursework

Drama: Oleanna

How Mamets Dialogue Impacts the Meaning

Mamets use of dialogue in this play is of importance in several aspects. Its role is to outline the meaning of the play and its title. Oleanna is a word of Norwegian meaning that is largely associated with Ole Bulls attempt to create a settlement for his county mates in the United States of America. The use of dialogue clearly relates to the folk song from which Mamet got inspiration to write the play. Use of conversation is important, especially in the communication of a controversial or contentious issue. These issues include the role and success or failure of higher education. Another issue worthy of note is the land. Land has several policies that require individuals to undergo many stages before gaining ownership or settlement.

The author also manages to create the themes in such a perfect manner through the characters conversations in various acts. This is the use of two contrasting characters in heated conversation. With each character, that is John and his student Carol, trying to outdo each other, Mamet clearly illustrates the contents of the play in one of the most interesting and enjoyable manners (Mamet, 1993). The values and principles of the main characters and those of the society also come to the fore through the conversations. The dialogue also plays a significant function in highlighting important aspects of speech such as use of satire and suspense.

Role of the Telephone in Regards to Communication in the Play

Mamet uses the telephone on several occasions during the course of the play. One of the most important functions of the telephone is to break into the heavy conversation. Since the play basically revolves around two characters, Carol and John, it is necessary to introduce a form of interruption as the two converse. This is greatly significant in the breakage of monotony. This not only helps to make the play interesting but also enjoyable and subsequently memorable. As the telephone breaks the monotony, it also heightens certain aspects of the play such as suspense. This is particularly evidenced when John picks up the phone just as Carol is about to reveal a secret in act one. John leaves the office soon after denying the audience or reader a chance of knowing the secret. This creates the perfect form of suspense (Weber, 1998).

The telephone also helps to communicate something or an idea that helps develop the plot of the play (Murphy, 2004). The reader or the audience gets a chance to experience the presence of a third and integral member of the play, Johns wife. This greatly enhances the structure of the play making it more complex. The telephone calls also help reveal great details about Johns personal life. Since he was due for tenure, we learn through telephone conversations with his wife that he had plans to move to a bigger house. As a form of developing the play further, the calls help the reader or audience to understand the nature of Carols accusation. While John thought it was a simple allegation, a telephone conversation reveals that the accusation entailed attempted rape.

These two important telephone roles work to create a huge impact on the play. The author succeeds to expose the relationship between John and his wife. He also greatly achieves the aim of revealing Carols cunning nature. This is such a splendid use of a simple device to generate such a massive effect. Despite the calls appearing on several occasions, their role is worth the number of appearances (Weber, 1998).

Interpretation of Carols Role

Carol portrays a fake essence of naivete in the first act of this play. This role is to effectively manipulate her professor, John, into providing her with the necessary alibi to pin him to succumb to her demands and those of her group. She does not portray any form of anger. On the other hand, she presents a false case of failure in her studies because of the complexity of the work assigned to them by the professor. This act earns her sympathy from John. Unknowingly, the latter falls into the trap and every other subsequent move he attempts is judged by these events of the first act.

An example of such an act is the moment when she violently shakes off Johns hands from her shoulder. This was an innocent act of compassion from John. After successfully playing the victim of the professors work and lectures, it was only of essence that he would sympathize with her. When she violently shook off his hands from her shoulder, she practically painted the professors act as a form of harassment. Furthermore, she mentioned that the material of study was difficult. This prompted John to award her a grade of A. however, this was to follow Carols visit to the professors office to discuss the material. This was a perfect manipulative move painting the innocent gesture as an attempt by the professor to gain sexual benefits in exchange for the grade.

Contrast Johns and Carols Opinions of the Educational System

John believes that the high education system is a flop and that it is a systematic hazing (Mamet, 1993). He is of the opinion that the society should not force people into higher learning. He questions the insistence of every person in attending higher learning institutions especially in the modern world. In one of his books, which he provides as part of his lectures to the college students, he clearly voices these opinions. It is, therefore, ironic that John accuses the societys advocacy for higher education and yet he is a professor of a college and on the verge of receiving tenure and pay increase.

In contrast, Carol represents the larger community that believes in the attendance of institutions of higher learning (MacLeod, 1995). The author clearly illustrates this when Carol voiced her displeasure at the professors book. This is the book that vehemently criticized the insistence of attending institutions such as the university and college. Carol goes a step further to accuse John of making a mock of the system that pays his dues. This is a clear indication that Carol thought of John as a person who failed to appreciate the importance of the higher education system.

Mamet tries to provoke the readers or audiences mind to clearly think and judge the significance of the educational system. Mamet seeks to present both sides of the coin so that the rest can see whether the university or college education is successful or not. This is a clear tactic at avoiding the aspect of siding with either side, hence being impartial to the interpretation by either the readers or the audience.


There are several categories of lens portrayed in this play. The feminist lens or literary criticism is of great significance. Some of the feminists philosophies applied in this play include the portrayal of a woman as the weaker gender (Heller, 2000). Therefore, most of a womans claims are put in to greater aspect as the society seeks to protect them from men. An example is the acceptance of Carols accusations against John without much investigation in to the matter. To further illustrate the sympathies to the women, Mamet depicts John as a compassionate man in the first act as he seeks to comfort the seemingly depressed Carol. Lastly, women use their feminine powers to achieve their goals. Carol, knowing Johns weakness as a man, goes to him in search of a loophole to use for the advancement of her efforts. She allows John into her emotional world only to later accuse him of sexual harassment and later attempted rape.

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