Who is Carol from Oleanna and what is their importance?

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Carol is one of the two main characters in the play. She is given no physical description and is simply listed in the character list as "A woman of twenty." From the dialogue in the play, readers are able to discern a bit more about her. She is a student at a well-respected university and is enrolled in one of John's classes. At the opening of the play, Carol is struggling in the course and has come to John's office for guidance on how she can raise her grade and ultimately pass. From their first meeting, Carol lays out a wide variety of frustrations she feels as a result of her socio-economic background, her gender, and her relative lack of intelligence. As a result, Carol feels oppressed within the school and unable to reach her higher education goals. As the play progresses, it becomes clear that Carol is not interested in simply passing John's class, she is interested in gaining power, pushing a personal political agenda, and processing an unexplained amount of anger. Carol's character undergoes a stark change as the play progresses. In Act One, she is portrayed as a confused, depressed schoolgirl who only wants to do well in John's class. By the end of the play, Carol is a manipulative, intelligent woman pursuing a strongly developed political agenda. Based on the text alone, it's impossible to say whether Carol is a mature manipulator who assumes the role of a naïve schoolgirl to advance her political agenda, or if she is truly a naïve schoolgirl swept up in the political agenda of an external force. Regardless of her motivations, Carol embarks on a political journey to advance the agenda of political correctness at the cost of John's livelihood. Some critics have argued that because John is honest while Carol is elusive, her character has been simplified into a villainous form to symbolize the dangers of government censorship. The play, therefore, creates a bogeyman not out of John, but out of Carol.