Oleanna

Miscommunication in Oleanna 10th Grade

In David Mamet's Oleanna, John, a university teacher, attempts to explain to his student Carol how he himself struggled with education as a child, in order to make her feel better about her own hardships and create an emotional connection with her. However, it is clear that no matter how John tries to explain concepts to Carol, he will never fully be able to connect with her due to the differences between them. This could also be seen as a criticism of the modern education system and pf traditional teacher–student relationships, as Mamet shows the audience that they are not always effective. Ultimately, Oleanna appears to be a microcosmic representation of the problem of miscommunication, since the characters pointedly fail to connect throughout the play.

Although John persistently tries to empathize with Carol, the audience sees through the characterization of John that he may be too ignorant of her feelings to make a meaningful connection with her. John uses declaratives throughout one early scene, for example when he states ‘well, I know what you’re talking about,’ conveying the fact that John is patronizing and that his attempt at building a connection with Carol is futile. In fact, it may be seen as a moment of hubris,...

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