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Characters and the Essence of Relationships: David Mamet’s Oleanna and Peter Shaffer’s Equus Compare and Contrast Essay

Relationships are the central point that defines the society, and social roles of people. It is obvious that there is always someone who dominates in relationships on different levels and there are always the ones who are subjective to other’s power and intellect.

The last ones, are they victims or criminals? This is the central question explored by the main characters John and Martin in the plays by David Mamet Oleanna and Peter Shaffer Equus. Power, manipulation, dissembling and misunderstanding are the main traits that characterize relationships described in the two plays.

David Mammet’s, Oleanna depicts the professional relationship between teacher and student that are dominated by unequal social roles and power of influence which skips from one to another. Peter Shaffer’s, Equus dives into the dynamics between psychiatrist and patient (a boy who was accused of a terrible crime committed on psychological grounds).

Their relationships are also complex and can be defined through mutual manipulation. As two professionals are individuals that have a responsibility to their professions that they are trained in; however, at times in both plays John and Martin wrestle with were to draw the line between personal feelings about their students, Carol and client Alan, and at the same time, face situations that cause them questioning their choices and overcome weaknesses to hold the leading positions in the complex relationships.

Thus, the power and dominance in relationships, as well as professional responsibility of two professionals that deal with patients and students are the central issues explored by two authors in two most controversial plays of the twentieth century.

The plays reveal early that both Alan and Carol had problematic childhoods and particular psychological traumas that defined their attitudes towards people and society. The events that harmed their souls, played crucial roles in their relationships in the society and defined their attitudes to life.

Both characters are supposed to be amenable as they are in the subjective positions, a female manipulative student who can’t get on well with the teacher’s lections, and a patient with psychological disorders sometimes take the leading positions in relationships and make their dominant professors feel uneasy and weak in front of their patient and student.

Get your 100% original paper on any topic done in as little as 3 hours Learn More For example, Alan who is supposed to be treated plays tricks with a psychiatrist and, instead of being asked, begin asking his psychiatrist:

“Dysart: Do your dream often?

Alan: do you?

Dysart: It’s my job to ask the question.” (Shaffer 30)

Dysart should protect himself not to become manipulated, as well as John notices that Carol takes a leading position in their conversations when begin using academic vocabulary. In order to save his leading position, professor makes use of physical power.

The professor and child psychiatrist saw their aim to help people within their fields, but in fact, their intentions were different. The rewards for caring about people can come in monetary or personal satisfaction. John appeared fixated on the monetary, whereas, Martin was more concerned about his personal struggle. In the plays the main characters struggle with the balance between a moral responsibility to self, profession, and student or patient.

A psychiatrist and professor success is measured on their ability to help the student and client; however, at what expense? David Mammet refers to John’s need to feed his family often. As John’s student pleads for a chance to improve her failing grade, the phone rings constantly reminding him that he has financial needs to meet at home:

We will write a custom Essay on Characters and the Essence of Relationships: David Mamet’s Oleanna and Peter Shaffer’s Equus specifically for you! Get your first paper with 15% OFF Learn More “I think your angry. Many people are. I have a telephone call that I have to make. An appointment that is rather pressing; though I sympathize with your concerns, and though I wish I had the time, this was not a previously scheduled meeting and I” (Mammet 13).

Carol confronts John for help in his office. John is in the midst of talking to a realtor over his home purchase and feels the pressure to get out of the conversation quickly.

The professor tries to explain to get Carol to accept that she is unable to understand the material and not to be ashamed of it. In the conversation John is patronizing Carol. In his mind he takes no professional responsibility for Carol’s inability to understand the material. At this point his professionalism is compromised for the sake of monetary personal gain.

The conversation continues and Carol belittles Johns teaching skills. Carol states his teaching is not for real people. John sees his shortcomings and states “Well, then, that’s my fault.” (Mammet 17) John’s professional integrity wins out and he gives Carol another chance.

John’s job is to teach Carol just as Martin’s in Equus is to make children better, but once again the question is at what personal cost? Martin is also in a fragile professional state not because of monetary reasons, but rather because he no longer feels that children understand the benefits of his treatment. “trt eating him is going to be unsettling.

Especially in my current state” (Shaffer 18). The words are spoken by Martin to Hesther whom chose Martin to professionally treat Alan. Hesther is under a strong opinion that each child deserves to get treatment from their mental anguish. Alan is wrestling with the notion that what he does inflicts more pain to the child; therefore, leaving Martin useless to the profession of Psychiatry.

It is Martin’s notion that Alan is actually happier without the knowledge. Martin has found a perfect justification to abandon his professional integrity. “I shrank my own life no one can do it for you.

I settled for being pallid and provincial out of my own eternal timidity” (Shaffer 80) Martin is reflecting on his life at home and the type of person he has been. His self-reflection is explaining that his life has not been about doing what is right, but rather what is easy.

Not sure if you can write a paper on Characters and the Essence of Relationships: David Mamet’s Oleanna and Peter Shaffer’s Equus by yourself? We can help you for only $16.05 $11/page Learn More A continually theme through Equus is Martin trying to give excuses to Hesther of why he should not treat Alan. The “eternal timidity” that Martin feels in his personal life, has entered into his professional. In addition, he feels that he does something wrong. His point is that he “cuts” children souls and minds trying to make them better and socially accepted.

However, he also understands that he takes their individuality, deprives them of their imagination. Does he really help children, or just make “ordinary things” of them? He compares himself to a chief priest of the Homeric Greece, who “fits the knife and slices elegantly down to the navel, just a seamstress following a pattern.

I part the flaps, sever the inner tubes, yank them out and throw them hot and steaming on to the floor” (Shaffer 17). This is an allusion to his profession and what he actually commits to children’s minds.

Both main characters were in search of finding balance between their own personal lives with lives and the professional relationships with Alan and Carol. The empathy John felt for Carol pulled him in a direction that made him stop and rethink the type of professor he had been. Just as exposing the truth to Alan of what he had done, gave Martin personal insight into himself.

Martin and John spent the early portion of the plays fighting with themselves and their own personal demons. Once resolved to doing their jobs they were able to learn from the people that they were to help.

Martin’s job was to expose the truth of Alan’s actions to himself thus revealing his impure thoughts and leaving him normal. “The normal is a good smile in child eyes- all right. It is also the dead stare in a million adults” (Shaffer 61). Societal pressures were equally compelling for Carol in Oleanna.

The need to seek higher education and escape from her upbringing was a pressure that Carol felt every day. “Economic, sexual, you cannot begin to imagine. And endured humiliations I pray that you and those you love never will encounter” (Mammet 69)

Thus, we can come to a conclusion that every person has his/her own social role which is defined by many factors. Events that took place in the childhood, education, and upbringing are important for shaping our attitudes to the better world.

The plays analyzed in this paper, provide the insight into the character of relationships between people who play different social roles (professor, student, psychiatrist and patient) and how they can manipulate each other using language, power and situations. There are no victims and there are no criminals in relationships, there are different positions and perceptions of the social norms and beliefs.

Works Cited Mamet, David. Oleanna. New York: Dramatists Play Service, 1993.

Shaffer, Peter. Equus. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2005.

Hamlet’s Relationship with His Mother Gertrude Research Paper

Nursing Assignment Help Table of Contents Hamlet and His Mother’s Relationship

Hamlet’s Relationship with Ophelia

Hamlet’s Relationship with His Mother: How Does Hamlet Treat His Mother?

Does Hamlet Love His Mother?

Works Cited

Further Study: FAQ

William Shakespeare, the famous playwright, has addressed the issue of relationships in most of his plays, especially as of family ties. He has in most of his books and in particular, The Tragedies exposed the good and the bad side of family ties, especially between parents and their kids, including oedipal complex issues.

In Hamlet, the must-read chef-d’oeuvre, Shakespeare brings to light the connections between members of a family, namely Hamlet, who is a prince, his late father, his mother Gertrude and his stepfather Claudius. This paper seeks to address Hamlet’s relationship with his mother as brought out in the play though the analysis of the characters.

Hamlet and His Mother’s Relationship In this play, Shakespeare uses a woman called Gertrude, who is among the few women featured in the masterwork. Through her relationship with her son Hamlet, Shakespeare paints a picture of betrayal. Gertrude marries the brother of Hamlet’s father and this why Hamlet is upset with his mother. In his opinion, remarriage is a tremendous act of betrayal.

In the whole book, Hamlet dedicates most of his time and energy trying to take revenge for the death of the king, his father, whom he believes was cruelly treated by those for whom he cared. Therefore, he suffered during his whole lifetime. Hamlet feels that Gertrude hurts the king more by not mourning during the king’s burial.

She instead delights in her new marriage depicting some freedom from oppression that she went through in her former marriage, as the reader can insinuate. As a result, Hamlet develops significant irritation towards her mother, which he manifests through his monologue and dialogue with other people as depicted in the play.

Hamlet is made to change his perception of love after his mother marries his late father’s brother, two months after the death of his father (Shakespeare I.ii.138). As a result, Hamlet concludes that his father truly loved his mother, yet his mother never loved him.

He fails to understand how his mother could so much dangle on his father (Shakespeare I. ii. 140, 143) then marry Claudius so soon after his father’s death. He refuses to admit Gertrude and Claudius’ relationship. He, therefore, resolves that woman’s adoration is so frail and can be changed so easily depending on the situation that the woman finds herself. Faulkner calls women “frail beings not because of their physical abilities but because of their weak emotions” (146).

Get your 100% original paper on any topic done in as little as 3 hours Learn More Hamlet’s Relationship with Ophelia According to Hamlet, his mother betrayed not only his father but also the love and the marriage his parents shared. Gertrude’s unrefined actions change Hamlet’s perception of love towards others. He reaches the level of hating Ophelia, the girl who truly loves him fearing that she might be in possession of his mother’s betrayal character.

Because of Gertrude’s evil plans of betraying her once-beloved husband, Hamlet’s love for Ophelia, the woman who he loved and one who gave back an equal share of the love changes, and is significantly affected.

When with her and watching a play, Ophelia comments that the prologue is very brief and Hamlet likens the briefness to a woman’s love (Shakespeare III. ii. 137-138). As time goes by, the gap between Hamlet and Ophelia widens to the level of Hamlet declaring that he does not love Ophelia at all and is not ready to love her anymore (Shakespeare III.i.119-120).

However, after Ophelia’s death, the reader realizes that Hamlet was not sincere with his previous words concerning his faded love to Ophelia since he later on confirms to Laertes that he loved her so much and no amount of love could match his love for her (Shakespeare V.i.254-256).

The reader realizes the reason behind Hamlet’s words that though he knows very well that Ophelia loves him, he fears that it might take after that between his mother and his late father, which was in no doubt fake.

Hamlet’s Relationship with His Mother: How Does Hamlet Treat His Mother? Gertrude’s actions instil a lot of anger to Hamlet who in turn reaches the level of killing any man who seems to take up the position of his late father.

Hamlet ends up believing his mother conspired with his uncle into killing his beloved father. He is filled up with so much rage and hatred until he kills Polonius in his mother’s bedroom after seeing him and thinking that he is Claudius.

We will write a custom Research Paper on Hamlet’s Relationship with His Mother Gertrude specifically for you! Get your first paper with 15% OFF Learn More His temper is fueled by the conviction that his mother by conspiring to kill the king and then marrying the killer caused an offence too great to be forgiven. After mistaking Polonius for Claudius and killing him, his mother calls the action “a bloody deed to which Hamlet replies that a bloody deed is killing a king and marrying the brother” (Shakespeare III. iv. 26-28).

Hamlet’s mother is shocked at this accusation, and the shock is so big until Hamlet begins to doubt if she really killed his father. From this point, though still convinced that she betrayed his father, he changes and starts warning her of her evil actions instead of accusing her. He comes to the full conclusion that his mother never killed her father.

The unacceptable marriage of his mother to his uncle continues to antagonize him. He, therefore, decides to only “speak daggers to her but use none” (Caxton 366).

With this, he speaks to her harshly addressing her as the queen, wife to the king’s brother. He asks her where her shame is and proceeds to compare his father, who he refers to as a combination and a form indeed and his uncle who he calls a ‘mildewed ear’.

Of course, Gertrude becomes defensive, orders him not to speak to him in that manner but he continuous, and warns her to repent her actions and prevent that which is to come (Shakespeare III. iv. 141). He even cautions her against going into her uncle’s bed. He tries to make her mother realize she is not doing the right thing and should feel sorry and stop her unrefined actions.

More on the Topic How is Laertes a Foil for Hamlet? 5 166 What words suggest that Claudius plans to control Hamlet? 5 26 What Does the Ghost Tell Hamlet? 5 58 Which Details in Hamlet Reflect Elizabethan Society? 5 230 What Does Hamlet Mean When He Refers to the “Pangs of Dispriz’d Love”? 5 467 What Incident Serves to Initiate the Conflict in Hamlet? 5 70 The conversation between Hamlet and his mother brings back Gertrude to her senses where she feels guilty and ashamed of her actions (Caxton 80).

It is at this point that she realizes that all along, she had been doing what was not right, and it was a great act of betrayal to her late husband. She admits that though she had never consciously been aware that Claudius had killed his brother, she had never fully approved of her actions.

Gertrude admits that when she looked into her soul, she was shocked by what she saw. Meanwhile, Hamlet has been acting very madly, where he discloses to his mother that it is just but a feigned state, but he will not reveal it to anyone. From this point henceforth, as Horatio points out, Hamlet and Gertrude’s relationship is restored (14). Together now, they begin to seek revenge for the king’s death.

Not sure if you can write a paper on Hamlet’s Relationship with His Mother Gertrude by yourself? We can help you for only $16.05 $11/page Learn More Hamlet continues with his feigned state of madness while Gertrude continues to make Claudius trust that the condition is real, and these actions become of great importance later (Shakespeare IV. i. 6-7).

Claudius hence comes to believe the prince’s simulated state, and he starts fearing what he may do to him. During the fencing match between Hamlet and Laertes, Gertrude shows that her allegiance is with the prince and not with the king for she gives her son her napkin and tells her that she rejoices in his fortunes.

Mother of Hamlet goes on to drink from the poisoned cup that was meant for him and though her new husband warns and orders her to stop drinking it, she continues and finishes it. This shows where her full allegiance is, and despite there still being intense feelings between them, they find their relationship becoming better before she finally dies.

Does Hamlet Love His Mother? It is noted throughout the play that even though Hamlet is hurt by her mother’s act of betrayal of marrying her husband’s brother a short time after her husband’s death, he never wishes to hurt her. His main aim all along is to avenge his father’s death. His quest for vengeance does not compromise his love for his mother, and all through the play, his love for him is evidently displayed.

He tries and succeeds at convincing her to realize that her actions were wrong and together, they undertake to avenge the king’s death. So despite the tense relationship between Hamlet and his mother at the beginning marked with feelings of anger and rage (Friedlander 3), their relationship is restored at the end, and Hamlet finally achieves his objective of avenging his father’s death. It is all a message of hope.

Works Cited Caxton, Charles. Commentary on Hamlet. New York: W.W. Norton

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