Glengarry Glen Ross

The Difference Between Talking and Communicating in Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross

With regard to his own work, David Mamet admits that “What I write about is what I think is missing from our society. And that’s communication on a basic level.” In his play <i>Glengarry Glen Ross</i>, Mamet uses an ironic technique to illustrate his beliefs about communication: in a play consisting almost entirely of salesmen, we are forced to listen to characters who fail to listen to themselves. Mamet’s use of dialogue functions on two levels. First, it serves as the only action in the play; other than the conversations among the men, nothing else happens. The script contains few stage descriptions and directions. Everything is centered on the dialogue. The second function of the dialogue is to show the lack of meaning that words can hold. The men’s conversations, the pace of their speaking, and the interruptions make up the entire play -- but these factors are ultimately made pointless by the conclusion in the second act. Because many of the main conflicts of the play happen offstage, the audience must depend upon the characters’ words for an explanation of what has occurred. That dependency forces the audience to figure out which words are important to communicating the message of the play and which words have...

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