Study Guide

Glengarry Glen Ross Manipulation

By David Mamet


MOSS: Look at Jerry Graff. He's clean, he's doing business for himself. (1.2.111)

Watching Moss manipulate Aaronow is like watching a master play the violin or something. He's so good at creating images of success and happiness for Aaronow before he asks for what he wants. Despite his pitch though, Moss proves unsuccessful with Aaronow. Maybe it's because Aaronow, unlike the other guys, doesn't seem willing to cast his moral compass aside just to get ahead.

MOSS: You hear a lot of things. He's doing well. He's doing very well. (1.2.134-135)

Moss Manipulation Tip #1: If the other person says something that pokes holes in your argument, just brush it off and get back on message. This is a classic move for Mamet men—they have goals and they need to achieve them, and a lot of times they need to use words to achieve them. They cannot let things like the truth or reason throw them off track.

MOSS: What do you, George, let me tell you what you do: you find yourself in thrall to someone else. (1.2.163-164)

Along with being great at painting images of what's out there, Moss is also really good at making Aaronow's current situation seem like the worst possible situation in the world.

MOSS: Someone should stand up and strike back. (2.1.199)

Sure the robbery will be about revolution and fighting the man, and it has absolutely nothing to do with Moss wanting to pocket some cash and snag a new job. Oh wait—not. Moss is really good at making his selfish desires seem like something noble, right?

AARONOW: And you're saying a fella could take and sell those leads to Jerry Graff. (1.2.230)

Shhh—listen. That's the sound of a little bell going ding ding ding in Aaronow's brain. It took him some winding and weaving, but Moss has now led Aaronow to the place he wants him to be. There are just a couple of more steps to take.

MOSS: We're just speaking about it. (Pause.) As an idea. (1.2.242-243)

Moss Manipulation Tip #2: Sometimes, you just have to straight-up lie. Yep, when all else fails, sometimes you just have to bend the truth to your will. If he lets Aaronow in on his real plan too early, he'll lose him, and Moss knows he has to string Aaronow along for a while before he pounces.

MOSS: You have to go in. (Pause.) You have to get the leads. (Pause.) (1.2.302-303)

Boom—all the twists and half-truths and lies have led to this. Moss has planted seeds, and now it's time to harvest; finally, he lays his plan on the line for Aaronow to plainly see. He wants Aaronow to break in to the office and steal the leads because, though Moss devised the plan, he's not willing to get his hands dirty.

MOSS: In or out. You tell me, you're out you take the consequences. (1.2.385-386)

When all else fails, just threaten—that's Moss's final act in the manipulation game. Lying didn't work, painting pretty pictures of the future didn't work, so his only option in the end is to convince Aaronow that there's no longer a choice.

ROMA: What I'm saying, what is our life? (1.3.38-39)

Always be closing could translate to always be manipulating. At least it seems that way for Ricky Roma. Right here, with this line, he convinces Lingk that what they're about to talk about somehow has something to do with the meaning of life, instead of just being about some property in Florida.

ROMA: Ray is director of all European sales services. (2.1.608)

Roma Manipulation Tip #2: Sometimes, you just have to straight-up lie. Weird—that's one of Moss's pro tips, too. Like Moss, Roma believes that you do what you have to do make (or hold on to) the sale.