Glengarry Glen Ross

by: David Mamet

Levene

Though Mamet does not attempt to solicit sympathy for any of his characters, Levene is the closest thing in the play to a tragic figure. From the first moments of the play Levene is a man on the brink of total failure. By trying to elude that failure through any desperate measures he can, he ends up making his troubles all the worse. "Bad luck" is not Levene's only problem. Because he fears failure so deeply, he clings to anything that will make him feel successful. He is often boastful of his past accomplishments with the company, and when he makes a sale to the Nyborgs (which, humiliatingly, turns out to be no good), he instantly starts into regaling the office with his tale of triumph. Moreover, Levene feels that his "success" gives him the upper hand on Williamson, whom he berates whenever he has the opportunity. Of course, we sense that Levene's treatment of Williamson will end up contributing to his own downfall. Levene may very well have been a fine salesman in his youth—though surely not so great as he claims—but now he has grown older and the company no longer has any use for him. Mamet suggests that such a system that teaches people to chase success and detest failure has also trained Levene to self-destruct.