Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on David Mamet's Oleanna. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
Oleanna: Plot Summary
Oleanna: Detailed Summary & Analysis
Oleanna: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of David Mamet
Historical Context of Oleanna
Other Books Related to Oleanna
- Full Title: Oleanna
- When Written: Early 1990s
- Where Written: New York, NY
- Literary Period: Contemporary
- Genre: Drama
- Setting: John’s office at an unnamed university
- Climax: When Carol overhears John call his wife “baby” on the phone and tells him not to use such nicknames, John snaps and beats Carol up, stopping himself just before breaking a chair over her head.
- Antagonist: John and Carol are dual protagonists and antagonists.
Extra Credit for Oleanna
Origins. The title Oleanna refers to a satirical Norwegian folk song written in the mid-1800s. The lyrics to “Oleanna” satirize a dream of a beautiful, plentiful utopian settlement. The real life Oleanna was founded by Norwegian composer Ole Bull as part of the New Norway colony in Pennsylvania, and it famously failed, forcing the Norwegian immigrants who’d begun to make their homes there to move away. The folk song’s indictment of unachievable, untenable ideas about how society ought to be mirrors Mamet’s investigation into how American society, too, is in failure because of its desire to become a utopia.