Analysis of the Character John in Oleanna by David Mamet

The play “Oleanna” tells the readers about the conflict of powers as the protagonists change their roles throughout the course of action. Namely, the power moves from John to Carol and vice versa contributing to the dynamism of the play and showing that human life is sensitive towards the changes. Under these circumstances, it is natural that the protagonists’ personal philosophy, values, and social position undergo significant changes. Thinking deeply, the play demonstrates that such changes are not always beneficial for a person showing that John’s remarkable metamorphose does not make him a better person.

The protagonist of the play, John, is juxtaposed to the main heroine, Carol. John is described as a remarkable representative of the middle class, a university professor who builds a successful career and plans to buy a house. The only problem that bothers John is the academic failures of his student Carol.

Knowing that Carol needs support in order to study better, John makes a decision to help the student. He offers Carol to attend his office for additional trainings that will help the heroine to pass the exams successfully. John is so confident in his strength that he promises Carol an A if she agrees to visit his office.

This is the point where the conflict of the play arises because at the moment when Carol agrees to visit John’s office, the power shifts to her. She starts to control the situation accusing John of sexual harassment and forcing him to make a deal that contradicts John’s principles. Thus, John suffers from his attempt to demonstrate his kindness and remains absolutely helpless under the given circumstances. In addition, the hero proves that he is a good and honest person when he refuses to make a deal with Carol.

After reconsideration, Carol understands that she is not able to meet her goals using threats and blackmails. Apparently, she underestimated John who appears to be a real hero with strong principles of personal ethics. He is ready to sacrifice his career in college in order to stay loyal to his beliefs. On the contrary, John’s professional behavior fails when he beats Carol. Although it was Carol who provoked the aggression, John’s actions can hardly be justified.

To conclude, John is depicted as a real hero who suffered from the attempt to help his student Carol. On the contrary, when John appears in an extraordinary situation and the anger fills him, he demonstrates the unacceptable behavior. As a result, his desire to assist makes him experience humiliation and loss of the job.