|This paper is an examination of two strong figures in contemporary American drama, both professional men who are faced with situations that cause them to question their choices and confront their weaknesses. John, in David Mamet=s Oleanna, is a college professor whose smug superiority is shaken by his encounter with a female student. Martin Dysart, in Peter Shaffer=s Equus, is a child psychiatrist who has already begun to doubt his powers when he takes on the case of a teenaged boy accused of a horrible crime. Both provide interesting examples of a tragic fall as outlined by a master playwright, and the contrasts between these two figures hold a mirror to modern man=s struggle to find meaning and purpose in present-day society.
Oleanna (1992) begins with an exchange between a college professor, John, and one of his students, Carol. He has given her a