The Use Of The Telephone In Oleanna Essay

1013 WordsSep 27, 20115 Pages
In most performances, the telephone ring is deliberately put in a scene to take attention away from the current action and add a new conflict or situation. But in Mamet’s Oleanna, the phone has a different purpose then to distract. Throughout the play, there are several telephone calls made to the main character John. These telephone calls act as a vehicle for the dialogue. Mamet uses the telephone calls to add more to the dialogue then take away from it. The play Oleanna covers a great deal of controversial topics, like the power struggle between a young female student and an older professor, which is apparent in Act 1 with John having the authoritative power. However, in Act 2 Carol is the one who holds the power. So there is a big difference in the dialogue in Acts 1 and 2. For instance, the first couple phone calls end with John apologizing at the end of the call. In Act 2, when Carol gains the power, he stops apologizing. Carol uses the telephone calls to gain power in the play. Even though we only hear the choppy, one side of the conversation, we are able to comprehend that these are personal matters in Johns life. But because these telephone calls give us such a window into John’s personal life, it makes him vulnerable. Carol takes advantage of it. “ (To Carol) I’m Sorry... Carol: What is a ‘term of art’?” (Mamet, 1452) . In this first conversation John is on the phone with Grace, his wife, about buying a new house. This Is pretty stressful for him to try and deal with it over the phone while there is a student in the room. Immediately after the conversation is done, Carol asks him what does “a term of art mean” which is a saying. She sees that John is stressed out and he is unable to give her a correct definition of the term while he tries to brush it off by saying its just something people say, making himself seem stupid in front of her. “Im

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