The Shift of Power in Oleanna

Topics: Professor, Privatdozent Pages: 4 (1436 words) Published: November 16, 2010
Joseph Koltes
M. Guista
English 101
14 Oct. 2010

Oleanna is a two character play about a power struggle between a University Professor, John, and a student, Carol, who accuses John of sexual harassment. The play begins when John, a condescending University Professor who holds power with his status, expresses his frustration at Carol's class performance as she deduces that he is buying a house. He feels she is, in reality, bright but troubled, and she agrees, citing her social and economic background as impediments to her class performance. John lowers his guard against Carol in order to find her motives for complaining to him. Carol then goes on the offensive and bombards John with a flurry of his own actions with different interpretations which makes John nervous about losing his career. In an attempt to silence Carol, he invites her to his office to work out any problems or complaints which Carol may have. Carol, ultimately, ends up stippling John from his power pedestal and replacing him which eventually makes him succumb to violent actions. Throughout the course of the play Oleanna, the reader finds a power struggle which gradually shifts from John to Carol occurring throughout Act 1, 2, and 3.

In Act 1, we see how John seems to have power; however, Carol is letting him take charge. John unnecessarily uses an expanded vocabulary, cutting Carol off quite often. Meanwhile, Carol is busy taking notes on John’s every action and is eavesdropping on his actions that are not directed to her. John mainly holds the power throughout this act because of his status and ranking. The fact that John is a University Professor with pending tenure ensures him that he has an important job which makes his feel confident and important as a person. Therefore, when John speaks to Carol as a teacher to student, he talks down to her in order to maintain his persona as an important University Professor. During the beginning of the play Carol questions the meaning of “Term of...
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