John is fully aware that Carol is backed by a group, her classmates and other students. He knows it for a fact that Carol's power is not only a personal one. Otherwise, he would not have had allowed her to stay long in his office and humiliate him every now and then (11).
(11) N. G. McClernan thinks that Oleanna “is not really about a man-woman misunderstanding, or a student reacting overzealously against what she truly believes is sexual harassment. This play is about a shadowy Group with an agenda to censor free thought by any means necessary. The Group creates a situation where John's life is ruined unless he capitulates to its demands”. http://www.mcclernan.com/mcclernan/oleanna.asp.
I published that essay in 2003 and I think it's stood up well. I'm always amazed by how few critics even mention The Group in reviews of OLEANNA, considering its pivotal role in the play's dramatic showdown.
This paper gets it right, although I'm not sure exactly what their point is here - maybe it's an Arabic-English translation issue, but the outraged tone of the essay makes it sound like they're talking about a real-life scandal rather than analyzing a play:
It is mean, cheap, and criminal for Carol and her group to wait for the extremely critical time of the tenure to file what Carol calls proved facts (Act III, p. 64) against John. It is a pure act of cheap revenge; which is anything but educational. Carol and her group become blindly driven by their emotions of hatred for John and the desire to destroy him, in a cheap act of taking revenge. If they had been rightly educated, they would have directed their academic dissatisfaction into a reasonable plan of reforming the educational system. But instead, they actually add more corruption to the already-corrupted system.
Like I said, odd tone, but they get Mamet's message right - the group is basically hysterical feminists who hate John irrationally and unfairly. Mamet of course repeated this dynamic in his play RACE, although it isn't an entire group (unless you count black woman solidarity, which Mamet may well do) but a single character. Crazed, hysterical women, plotting and planning to destroy men - that's David Mamet's great Satan.
The Group is Mamet's grotesque caricature of feminism, but when I wrote the essay nobody wanted to believe it. Mamet's a cool guy! certainly a liberal! he's just commenting on the dangers of political correctness!
Now that it turns out that Mamet is so far right he considers Glenn Beck an important thinker, more people are finally coming around to my side. It's not easy being ahead of the curve.
MISTRESS ILSA is resting up after the brief learning experience in the Midtown International Theatre Festival. Soon I will make it into a full-length play.
In the meantime, I had another breakthrough in my rewrite of JULIA AND BUDDY. At this rate I might actually have a finished play one of these days! But I am thrilled with this breakthrough, I think I'm finally on the right track.