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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
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"
Ace your assignments with our guide to Glengarry Glen Ross!