Oleanna Essay

699 Words3 Pages
Re-read Act 1 from page 2 (CAROL: (Pause) What is a "term of art"?) to page 9 (JOHN: Now, look: I’m a human being, I…). Explore the ways Mamet shows how language gives power in this extract and elsewhere in the play. The play Oleanna by David Mamet tells of the power struggle between a male college professor, John, and his female student, Carol. It is a powerful two-character drama by David Mamet that explores the destructiveness of miscommunication. This play reveals to its audience how language gives great power to both John and Carol. Brenda Murphy said ‘Oleanna is about the use and abuse of terms of art’. This is evident as John tends to use complicated jargon and abstract concepts whilst Carol uses simple diction and is literal-minded. This can be seen in the first act when Carol asks ‘What is a “term of art”?’ and John attempts to explain the phrase to Carol, but only confuses her. At this point in the play, John has more power than Carol bas he intellectually bullies her with his elevated diction. Additionally, John says ‘No, let’s get on with it.’ and Carol replies ‘“get on?”‘. It seems like Carol is misinterpreting John’s vocabulary for a sexual invitation. This may evoke violent mixed reactions from the audience as some may believe that John is an intellectual bully who is taking advantage of Carol whilst others may think that Carol is devising a diabolical plan and is the one to blame. Also, John speaks for longer periods than Carol and interrupts her speech frequently. This can be seen when Carol is attempting to explain herself and says ‘I come from a different social…’ and is rudely interrupted by John. It is another instance in which John showcases his dominion over Carol as she can barely finish her sentences. John’s interruptions may annoy the audience as there is no fluency in communication. Carol writes down John’s words because she
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