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Home » The Art of Deconstruction: A Literary Analysis of The Untouchables by David Mamet

The Art of Deconstruction: A Literary Analysis of The Untouchables by David Mamet

In this article, we will delve into the art of deconstruction by conducting a literary analysis of David Mamet’s The Untouchables. Through this analysis, we will explore the various literary elements and techniques used by Mamet to deconstruct the traditional gangster genre and create a unique and thought-provoking narrative. We will examine the themes, characters, plot, and language used in the play, and how they contribute to the overall deconstruction of the genre. This article aims to provide readers with a deeper understanding of the deconstructionist approach to literature and how it can be applied to contemporary works.

Background of David Mamet

David Mamet is an American playwright, screenwriter, and director who has made a significant impact on the world of theater and film. Born in Chicago in 1947, Mamet grew up in a Jewish family and attended Goddard College in Vermont. He began his career as a playwright in the 1970s, with works such as “Sexual Perversity in Chicago” and “American Buffalo” gaining critical acclaim. Mamet’s writing style is known for its sparse, rhythmic dialogue and exploration of themes such as power, masculinity, and deception. He has also worked extensively in film, writing and directing movies such as “House of Games” and “Glengarry Glen Ross.” Mamet’s work has been recognized with numerous awards, including a Pulitzer Prize for Drama and two Tony Awards.

Overview of The Untouchables

The Untouchables is a crime drama film directed by Brian De Palma and written by David Mamet. The film is set in Chicago during the Prohibition era and follows the story of Elliot Ness, a federal agent tasked with taking down notorious gangster Al Capone. The film stars Kevin Costner as Ness, Sean Connery as Jim Malone, and Robert De Niro as Capone. The Untouchables is known for its stylized violence, memorable quotes, and iconic score by Ennio Morricone. The film was a critical and commercial success, earning four Academy Award nominations and winning one for Best Supporting Actor for Connery’s performance.

Deconstruction as a Literary Theory

Deconstruction as a literary theory is a method of analyzing texts that originated in the work of French philosopher Jacques Derrida. It involves examining the underlying assumptions and contradictions within a text, and questioning the stability of its meaning. Deconstructionists argue that language is inherently unstable and that meaning is always in flux, depending on the context in which it is used. This approach to literary analysis has been influential in fields such as literary criticism, philosophy, and cultural studies. In this article, we will explore how deconstruction can be applied to David Mamet’s play The Untouchables, and how this approach can help us to better understand the complex themes and ideas that are present in the text.

Deconstruction of Characterization in The Untouchables

In David Mamet’s The Untouchables, the characters are not simply black and white, good or bad. Instead, Mamet deconstructs the traditional characterization of the heroes and villains, creating complex and flawed individuals. The protagonist, Eliot Ness, is not a flawless hero but rather a man struggling with his own limitations and failures. Similarly, the antagonist, Al Capone, is not a one-dimensional villain but a charismatic and cunning leader who is also capable of moments of vulnerability. By deconstructing the traditional characterization, Mamet creates a more realistic and nuanced portrayal of these historical figures, allowing the audience to see them as complex human beings rather than caricatures.

Deconstruction of Plot in The Untouchables

The plot of The Untouchables, directed by Brian De Palma and written by David Mamet, is a classic tale of good versus evil. The film follows the story of Elliot Ness, a federal agent tasked with taking down notorious gangster Al Capone during the Prohibition era. However, upon closer examination, the plot of The Untouchables can be deconstructed to reveal deeper themes and motifs.

One of the key elements of the plot is the idea of corruption. Throughout the film, Ness and his team are constantly battling against corrupt police officers and politicians who are in cahoots with Capone. This theme is further emphasized by the character of Jim Malone, played by Sean Connery, who serves as a mentor to Ness and warns him about the corrupt nature of the system they are up against.

Another important aspect of the plot is the use of violence. The film is known for its intense and graphic scenes of violence, particularly during the climactic shootout at the train station. However, the violence is not just gratuitous; it serves a purpose in the story. The use of violence highlights the brutal nature of the gangster world and the lengths that Ness and his team must go to in order to bring down Capone.

Overall, the deconstruction of the plot in The Untouchables reveals a complex and nuanced story that goes beyond the surface level of a simple good versus evil narrative. The themes of corruption and violence add depth to the plot and make the film a timeless classic.

Deconstruction of Themes in The Untouchables

One of the most prominent themes in The Untouchables is the idea of corruption and the struggle to maintain integrity in a corrupt system. This theme is explored through the character of Eliot Ness, who is determined to bring down Al Capone and his criminal empire, despite the many obstacles he faces. Ness is portrayed as a man of principle, who is willing to risk his own life and career in order to do what is right.

Another theme that is explored in The Untouchables is the idea of loyalty and betrayal. This theme is exemplified through the character of Frank Nitti, who is a loyal member of Capone’s gang, but ultimately betrays his boss in order to save his own skin. The film also explores the idea of loyalty among the Untouchables themselves, as they must rely on each other in order to succeed in their mission.

Finally, The Untouchables also touches on the theme of justice and the idea that sometimes, the ends justify the means. Ness and his team are willing to use any means necessary in order to bring down Capone, including violence and deception. This raises questions about the morality of their actions and whether or not the pursuit of justice justifies such extreme measures.

Overall, The Untouchables is a complex and thought-provoking film that explores a variety of themes and ideas. Through its characters and plot, it raises important questions about corruption, loyalty, justice, and the nature of morality itself.

Deconstruction of Language in The Untouchables

In The Untouchables, David Mamet employs a unique style of language that deconstructs traditional dialogue and challenges the audience’s expectations. Mamet’s use of fragmented sentences, repetition, and pauses creates a sense of tension and urgency in the dialogue, emphasizing the high stakes of the characters’ actions. Additionally, the characters’ use of slang and colloquialisms adds to the authenticity of the setting and the characters’ personalities. However, this use of language also serves to highlight the power dynamics at play, as the characters use language to assert their dominance and manipulate those around them. Overall, Mamet’s deconstruction of language in The Untouchables adds depth and complexity to the characters and the story, making it a masterful work of literary art.

The Role of Power in The Untouchables

Power plays a significant role in David Mamet’s The Untouchables. The film depicts the power struggle between the Chicago mob and the law enforcement agencies trying to bring them down. The mob, led by Al Capone, wields immense power through their control of the city’s illegal activities, including bootlegging and gambling. They use this power to intimidate and bribe officials, making it difficult for the law to touch them.

On the other hand, the law enforcement agencies, represented by Eliot Ness and his team of “untouchables,” have limited power. They are bound by the law and must operate within its confines, making it challenging to take down the mob. Ness and his team must rely on their wits and determination to outsmart the mob and bring them to justice.

The film also explores the corrupting influence of power. Capone, who initially starts as a small-time criminal, becomes increasingly ruthless as he gains more power. He uses violence and intimidation to maintain his hold on the city’s criminal underworld, ultimately leading to his downfall. Ness, on the other hand, remains steadfast in his commitment to justice, even when it means going against his superiors and risking his own life.

Overall, The Untouchables highlights the importance of power in shaping the course of events. It shows how those who wield power can use it for both good and evil, and how those without power must find creative ways to overcome their limitations.

The Role of Gender in The Untouchables

The Untouchables, a novel by David Mamet, explores the role of gender in the criminal underworld of Chicago during the Prohibition era. The novel portrays a society where men hold the power and women are relegated to the sidelines. The female characters in the novel are either victims or objects of desire, and their agency is limited. Mamet’s portrayal of gender roles in The Untouchables highlights the patriarchal nature of society during the 1920s and 1930s. The novel also raises questions about the impact of gender on power dynamics and the role of women in shaping society.

The Role of Violence in The Untouchables

The Untouchables, a film directed by Brian De Palma and written by David Mamet, is a crime drama that explores the role of violence in the pursuit of justice. Set in Chicago during the Prohibition era, the film follows the efforts of federal agent Eliot Ness (played by Kevin Costner) to take down notorious gangster Al Capone (played by Robert De Niro). Throughout the film, violence is portrayed as a necessary means to an end, as Ness and his team engage in shootouts, raids, and other forms of physical confrontation in order to bring Capone to justice. However, the film also raises questions about the morality of violence, as Ness struggles with the toll that his actions take on himself and those around him. Ultimately, The Untouchables presents a complex and nuanced portrayal of violence, highlighting both its potential for good and its potential for harm.

The Role of Corruption in The Untouchables

Corruption plays a significant role in David Mamet’s The Untouchables. The story is set in the Prohibition era, where the sale and consumption of alcohol were illegal in the United States. The film follows the story of Elliot Ness, a federal agent tasked with bringing down Al Capone, the notorious gangster who controlled the illegal alcohol trade in Chicago. Ness is determined to bring Capone to justice, but he soon realizes that corruption is rampant in the city, and he cannot trust anyone, not even his fellow law enforcement officers. The film portrays corruption as a pervasive force that undermines the rule of law and makes it difficult for honest people to do their jobs. Mamet’s portrayal of corruption in The Untouchables is a commentary on the state of American society during the Prohibition era and a reminder of the dangers of unchecked power.

The Role of Justice in The Untouchables

The concept of justice plays a crucial role in David Mamet’s The Untouchables. Throughout the novel, the characters are constantly grappling with the idea of what is just and fair. The protagonist, Eliot Ness, is a federal agent tasked with taking down notorious gangster Al Capone. Ness is driven by a strong sense of justice and a desire to see Capone brought to justice for his crimes. However, as the story unfolds, Ness begins to question whether his methods are truly just. He is forced to confront the fact that he may be just as ruthless and violent as the criminals he is trying to stop. This theme of justice is further explored through the character of Capone himself. Despite being a criminal, Capone believes that he is justified in his actions. He sees himself as a businessman who is simply trying to make a living in a tough world. This raises important questions about the nature of justice and whether it is always clear-cut. Overall, The Untouchables is a thought-provoking exploration of the role of justice in society and the complexities of trying to do what is right in a world that is often anything but just.

The Significance of the Title in The Untouchables

The title of a literary work is often the first point of contact between the reader and the text. It serves as a gateway to the story, providing a glimpse into the themes and motifs that will be explored throughout the narrative. In the case of David Mamet’s The Untouchables, the title is particularly significant, as it not only sets the tone for the story but also reflects the central conflict that drives the plot. The term “untouchables” refers to a group of law enforcement officials who are tasked with taking down Al Capone, the notorious gangster who ruled Chicago during the Prohibition era. These officials are deemed “untouchable” because they are incorruptible and cannot be bought off by Capone’s vast wealth and power. The title thus highlights the struggle between good and evil, as well as the importance of integrity and morality in the face of temptation and corruption. As the story unfolds, the title takes on even greater significance, as the characters are forced to confront their own vulnerabilities and weaknesses in the face of Capone’s ruthless tactics. Ultimately, the title serves as a reminder of the power of individual integrity and the importance of standing up for what is right, even in the face of overwhelming odds.

Comparisons to Other Works by David Mamet

David Mamet is a prolific writer and playwright, and his works have been compared to those of other great writers. One of the most notable comparisons is to Ernest Hemingway, as both writers share a minimalist style and a focus on masculinity and violence. Mamet’s use of dialogue and his exploration of power dynamics have also drawn comparisons to Harold Pinter. However, Mamet’s unique voice and approach to storytelling set him apart from these writers and make his works stand out in their own right. The Untouchables, in particular, showcases Mamet’s ability to deconstruct traditional narratives and create complex characters that challenge the audience’s expectations.

Reception and Criticism of The Untouchables

The Untouchables, a crime drama film directed by Brian De Palma and written by David Mamet, was released in 1987 to mixed reviews. While some praised the film’s stylish direction and strong performances, others criticized its historical inaccuracies and glorification of violence.

Critics also had differing opinions on Mamet’s screenplay. Some praised his sharp dialogue and ability to create tension, while others found it overly simplistic and lacking in depth.

Despite the mixed reception, The Untouchables was a commercial success and has since become a cult classic. Its influence can be seen in other crime dramas and its iconic scenes, such as the shootout at Union Station, have become part of cinematic history.

Overall, The Untouchables remains a divisive film, but its impact on the genre and its place in popular culture cannot be denied.

The Untouchables, a film directed by Brian De Palma and written by David Mamet, has had a significant impact on popular culture since its release in 1987. The film, which tells the story of Elliot Ness and his team of “untouchable” agents who take on Al Capone’s criminal empire during the Prohibition era, has inspired numerous adaptations and references in various forms of media. The film’s iconic scenes, such as the shootout at Union Station and the “I want him dead” scene, have become cultural touchstones and have been parodied and referenced in countless films, TV shows, and even video games. The film’s portrayal of the battle between law enforcement and organized crime has also influenced the development of the crime genre in popular culture, with many subsequent films and TV shows drawing inspiration from The Untouchables’ gritty and violent depiction of the criminal underworld. Overall, The Untouchables’ impact on popular culture is a testament to its enduring legacy as a classic crime film and a masterful work of storytelling.

Future Implications and Analysis of The Untouchables

The Untouchables by David Mamet is a timeless classic that has stood the test of time. The story of Eliot Ness and his team of “untouchables” who take on Al Capone and his gangsters is a gripping tale of good versus evil. However, the implications of this story go beyond just entertainment. The themes and messages in The Untouchables have far-reaching implications for our society today.

One of the most significant implications of The Untouchables is the idea of corruption and the abuse of power. Al Capone and his gangsters are portrayed as corrupt and ruthless, willing to do whatever it takes to maintain their power and control. This is a theme that is still relevant today, as we see examples of corruption and abuse of power in politics, business, and other areas of society.

Another important implication of The Untouchables is the idea of justice and the rule of law. Eliot Ness and his team are portrayed as the heroes of the story, fighting for justice and upholding the law. This is a message that is still relevant today, as we continue to struggle with issues of justice and equality in our society.

Overall, The Untouchables is a powerful story that has important implications for our society today. It reminds us of the importance of justice, the rule of law, and the fight against corruption and abuse of power. As we continue to face these issues in our society, we can look to The Untouchables as a source of inspiration and guidance.