Oleanna Questions and Answers
by David Mamet

Start Your Free Trial

How are the themes sexism and sexual harassment expressed in the play Oleanna? Do you think the students questions were justified?

Expert Answers info

Octavia Cordell eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)

calendarEducator since 2016

write1,144 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

The play, in addition to addressing sexism and gender politics, is about student-teacher power relationships and the inherent hypocrisy of the university tenure system.

John's conference with Carol in act 1 crystallizes this problem. John is distracted by the details of buying a house, which is one of several future events he anticipates as a result of gaining tenure. He does talk to Carol in a condescending and paternalistic way; his efforts to make her "understand" are filtered through his own experience as someone labeled "stupid" (which he clumsily tries to explain to Carol), and simultaneously balancing the life transition he is trying to manage over the phone while trying to talk to Carol is not helping matters.

Carol, for her part, is simply trying to dupe John; she's not really interested in his class or "understanding" his book but in documenting his sexist behavior. Even though Carol claims over and over not to understand, the play makes clear that in this situation John is the...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 631 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

lfawley eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2010

write324 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

check Approved by eNotes Editorial