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Glengarry Glen Ross

David Mamet

Key Facts

Important Quotations Explained

Study Questions and Essay Topics

full title ·  Glengarry Glen Ross

author · David Mamet

type of work · Play

genre · Drama, satire, dark comedy

language · English, though the characters speak with heavy slang and colloquial grammar. (Many critics consider Mamet to be a "sound poet," bringing an ear-pleasing musical sensibility to the street lingo of his characters.)

time and place written · Chicago; early 1980s

date of first publication · 1984

major performances · The play's first performance, directed by Bill Bryden, was on September 21, 1983, at The Cottlesloe Theatre in London. The American Premiere, directed by longtime Mamet associate Gregory Mosher, was on February 6, 1984, at the Goodman Theatre of the Arts Institute of Chicago. A film version, directed by James Foley, with an expanded and slightly altered screenplay by Mamet, was released in 1992.

awards · 1984 Pulitzer Prize for Drama

climax · Williamson corners Levene and gets him to confess to the robbery of the office, collapsing Levene's attempt to "beat the system"

protagonist · While the play is an ensemble piece, and Mamet does not encourage us to like or identify with one character above the others, Levene's actions and conflicts carry the greatest dramatic weight

antagonist · American business culture, as enacted by all the characters, and sometimes particularly personified by the offstage characters Mitch and Murray

setting (time) · Early 1980s

setting (place) · Chicago

point of view · Mamet writes from a detached, observational point of view

falling action · Baylen takes Levene into Williamson's office to interrogate him again; Levene's arrest is imminent; Roma tells Williamson that from now on he wants half of Levene's commissions, making Levene's defeat and humiliation complete

tense · Present

foreshadowing · There are no specific instances of foreshadowing, though the downbeat, pessimistic tone of Act One prefigures the downbeat, pessimistic outcomes in Act Two

tone · Dark, occasionally satirical; the salesmen's deviousness is sometimes so broad as to be amusing, but there is also the sense throughout that Mamet is quite serious about condemning the system he portrays

themes · Speech as mode of action; business success and failure

motifs · Meaningful words vs. meaningless "talk"; cons, scams, and angles; manhood; having a "big mouth"

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Roma knew from the board.

by sn1119, November 19, 2013

Though the notes say that "Early in this scene, Roma tells Baylen that he had heard about the robbery from Moss, and Baylen wondered how Moss knew.", when Baylen asks, Roma cites the board on the window and never mentions Moss.

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