Mamet's Oliann Play Analysis

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In Mamet’s Olianna, the forty-year-old professor, named John, receives three visits from a twenty-year-old female student named Carol. The student claims that she has met difficulties understanding key issues as he attended the graduate school in the past. Interrupted continuously by phone calls, the two characters’ conversation leads to several arguments. As Professor John is answering her questions, Carol begins to believe that he thinks she is stupid. Because John tries to solve his female student’s problems in a personal manner, he is accused of sexual harassment, and later rape. The play ends with a physical confrontation between the student and the professor. The question arises: What kind of professor is John? Caryn James contemplates, “He is a bad teacher and an egotist,…show more content…
In his article, “Mamet’s Oleanna in Context: Performance, Personal, Pedagogy,” (2005) Lee Papa asserts that the violent end of the last act makes “a phallocentric revenge fantasy” of Mamet’s play; “The increasing violation of Carol’s personal space by John—the comforting arm, the blocked exit, the beating—perhaps makes the play turn all-too-possibly into a phallocentric revenge fantasy by the end: The male defends wife, home, and life against the forces mounted against him” (p. 222). Whether it is phallocentric or not, Carol describes her struggle with her teacher as pornographic. Thus, sexuality and desire are aspects of Professor John’s character. Needless to say, Mamet’s professor is another example of the negative image of the professor on stage. Mamet’s Professor John is criticized severely by many critics who take John’s negative professorship very seriously that they criticize him as if he is a real professor who did harass his female student in reality. Other negative readings of Mamet’s play are more concerned with language and
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