Gender and Economic Differences

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Discuss Mamet’s use and presentation of social and economic differences in this extract and elsewhere in the play.

Mamet wrote the play ‘Oleanna’ in the 1990’s, at this time there was great concern in America. Sexual harassment was a main concern, in the military there were 83 women and 4 men complained about being subject to sexual harassment at a US Navy convention. Also in 1991, Clarence Thomas, a black judge was accused of sexual harassment of Anita Hill, a female lawyer. Mamet said that he had begun writing Oleanna before senate hearings, but had ‘stuck it in a draw’ and started writing it again once the senate hearings had begun. Another concern in America in the 1990’s was education. Post-war the US university sector expanded. In1987 Allan Bloom wrote an article called ‘The Closing of the American Mind’ which expressed the anxieties about the decline in the academic standards expected of university students. Also in the 1990’s the feminist movement was strengthening in the US, there was increasing emphasis on the way gender relations are hierarchically constructed within society.

In Oleanna, Mamet explores social and economic differences between Carol and John. At the beginning of the extract Carol says ‘I come from a different social…’ ‘A different economic…’ here Carol recognises that her and John live very different lifestyles, she knows that John is wealthier and in a higher class than her family. On page thirteen John tries to leave Carol to go and look at his new house ‘… have an appointment with a realtor, and with my wife and …’ the fact John is buying a brand new house emphasises the fact he has a lot of money whereas in this extract Carol doesn’t mention anything she has suggesting she is very poor and cannot afford many luxuries. Another thing which emphasises the social differences between the two characters is John’s lexis and grammar he uses expanded vocabulary such as ‘virtual warehousing’, ‘certain arbitrary’, ‘certain institutional’...
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