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Carol asks for a meeting with her professor John, who believes he is there to impart greater knowledge to her. Ironically, by the end of the play it is Carol who is instructing John.
John is in the final stages of being awarded tenure. Ironically, he believes in his mind the board is going to sabotage his promotion and it won't go through. He's a part of the system but wary of actually being in it.
John is in a position of power at the university he teaches at. He's written a book which has to be purchased and bought by his students each semester. He has become the authority to the students. Ironically, he's lost touch with actually teaching and has becoming someone who attempts to inject his reasoning and methodology into the students.
John attempts to instill in Carol a sense of truly understanding herself through self-examination. Ironically, John himself does very little of the deep examination he speaks of and even has settled for a life where he hates being a teacher but continues to strive for tenure so that he and his wife can purchase their new home.
John's authority and power has been raised up in a patriarchal culture where he gets away with speaking to women in a way that should not be acceptable. Ironically, because he never disciplines himself to shift into equality and respect, he is thrust into it by Carol.
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