Oleanna Essay on Gender--Highlighted Example Essay

This example essay has been highlighted to show examples of references to the question steer, contexts (wider and within the play), methods and analysis to make the necessary structure for the exam essay clear.

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: Loomy
  • Created on: 06-05-14 10:36
Preview of Oleanna Essay on Gender--Highlighted Example Essay

First 554 words of the document:

. Reread Act 1 from page 36 (JOHN: Charts, do you see ...) to the end of the scene
on page 41. Discuss how Mamet presents ideas about gender in this extract and
at least one other point in the play.
References to the steer.
References to the context within the play as a whole
References to wider contexts
Analysis of those methods in light of the steer.
In this extract, Mamet employs several techniques to present his ideas about
gender. The most prominent one is dialogue John is shown to be the superior
and dominant one in the conversation by his lexis (`void') and his elaboration on
the noun `surprise' (`a form of aggression') making philosophical points, a habit of
his (a term of art is explained as `a term . . . to mean something more specific . . .'
p.3). Traditionally, males were thought to be the dominant ones at all times, and this
is no exception. In Act 1, John has power over Carol, as he criticises her work and
talks of his great ideas on education. This will later change in Acts 2 and then 3
when Carol makes use of the advantages of her gender against John. However, in
this extract, John's language contrasts that of Carol's whose stutters shown
through ellipsis (`I always . . . all my life . . . I never told anyone this'), repetition of `I
don't understand' (some of it in capital letters showing desperation) and constant
torrent of questions throughout Act 1 show her weakness. This huge contrast,
combining with the fact that John, the powerful one is male and Carol, the
weaker one, is female, seems to suggest that their respective positions are
representative of gender. Mamet does use repetition in John's speech, (`shhh'
and `it's all right') but these phrases are used to pacify and comfort an agitated
female which could be interpreted as either patronising or paternal, both
demeaning females' status. This is also shown through Mamet's stage directions
and props (`He goes over to her and puts his arm around her.') clearly shows that
John is the one taking the initiative for further contact, which could be
paternal or sexual, and Carol's reaction is a defensive `No!'. The phone is a prop
used by Mamet to give power to John when its ringing interrupts a
seemingly important revelation by Carol (which might have directly
influenced the events later in the play), John goes and picks the phone up,
again determining their interaction.
In John's phone conversation with his wife Grace and his lawyer Jerry, Mamet
reinforces his views on gender: John uses imperatives and interrogatives on Grace
(`put Jerry on' an indication of John's preference to talk to a fellow male on
certain matters and `is she there?' contains a ring of authority.) Note John's
lexis when he wants Jerry to `take Grace and get out of that house.' The females in
this extract (Carol and Grace) we can see, are all dominated by males (John and
Jerry). John's use of taboo language (`what the hell', `screw her' `I'll be damned')

Other pages in this set

Page 2

Preview of page 2

Here's a taster:

This authority of males
over females, however, can be attributed to John's and Carol's positions the
former is a university professor, whereas Carol is his student who comes from a
`different social a different economic' background and presumably has received
less education than John whose great ideas and sophisticated lexis gives him
power.…read more

Page 3

Preview of page 3

Here's a taster:

This, I believe, encapsulates Mamet's ideas about gender and the relationship
between males and females.…read more


No comments have yet been made

Similar English Literature resources:

See all English Literature resources »See all resources »