Glengarry Glen Ross
Study Questions and Essay Topics
Discuss the differences in structure between Act One and Act Two. How do they work together?
All of the characters in the play resent the business practices of their company. What does each character do as a result of his frustrations? Why? Do any of the characters' actions undermine the system they are trapped in, or do they only fortify the system?
Roma is the only "successful" character in the play. How does his success lead the other salesmen to treat him? How does he, in turn, treat others? Is he likable to the other characters in the play, or to the audience?
Suggested Essay Topics
Levene's actions are often petty and usually foolish, but his downfall at the end of the play does carry dramatic weight. Is Levene, in spite of his flaws, sympathetic? Is his story tragic?
Find some examples of the salesmen speaking of themselves or others as "men," and discuss the implications, in each instance, of the word beyond its obvious reference to gender and age. Does the word have a solid meaning throughout the play, across characters, or does the meaning shift with each usage?
The first two scenes in Act One are full of information that inform the plot developments in Act Two, but the third scene—between Roma and Lingk—consists almost entirely of a rambling monologue that sheds no light on "plot" concerns. Why does Mamet give Roma this wandering speech? What is Roma saying in his monologue?
Why do the salesmen have such a contentious relationship with Williamson? In what ways does Williamson differ from the salesmen, and in what ways does he resemble them? Based on what we know about Mitch and Murray, what can we say makes them differ from or resemble their employees?
Mamet never gives us a first-hand look at the salesmen's sits, or sales pitches, at prospective customers' homes—the traditional venue where they do their selling. Nevertheless, from watching the four salesmen—Levene, Roma, Moss, and Aaronow—what can we tell about their sales techniques? Why might some of them fare better in the business than others?
Moss attempts to trap Aaronow into robbing the office, but ultimately, Aaronow chooses not to commit the crime. Speculate on why Aaronow does not fall into Moss's trap, and why Levene does.
Mamet is famous for his close attention to rhythms of speech. Though he seems unconcerned by details of stage direction, he is extremely specific about italicizing single syllables of dialogue, or cutting words off in the middle when appropriate. Choose an example of dialogue in the play and speculate about what—rhythmically, poetically, or dramatically—Mamet accomplishes with this specificity.
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