By Robert Vorlicky
How males speak with one another on degree whilst no girls are present--and what it tells us approximately energy and gender
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Extra resources for Act Like a Man: Challenging Masculinities in American Drama
Each chooses the face, not the mask, of male privilege-each seeks out opportunities with the knowledge that he has the power to name their meanings. "As a result of their readiness to believe in the 43 ï»¿ACT LIKE A MAN viability of myth," Geis proposes, "the characters are caught in a matrix of self-perpetuating deceptions" (1992, 62-63). What Bigsby pointedly concludes about Roma's verbal seduction of Lingk is, in fact, an accurate description of all Mamet's salesmen-as well as most American male characters-who sustain social dialogue: "What masquerades as intimacy is in fact the betrayal of intimacy, confidence, trust, the shared experience implied by language" (1985, 119).
Only Moss and Aaronow are one another's professional peers; the other partici- pants speak from different ranks within a hierarchy of male author- ity. "-the speaker or the listener-is de- termined by the individual who adheres unwaveringly to the re- strictions advocated by the masculine ethos. "These duologues in fact dramatize primal duels for domination, power and survival" 28 ï»¿AMERICAN MASCULINE ETHOS, MALE MYTHOLOGIES, AND ABSENT WOMEN (Frank Rich 1984). Those who wield the conversational power in act 1 are Williamson, who is predominantly the listener in the first scene (much of his interaction with Levene is metalinguistic, as the two talk about talk in their efforts to understand one an- other), and the verbose, goal-oriented Moss and Roma.
1 Just a day earlier, Roma mesmerized a lead, a potential buyer named James Lingk, with the fantasy that in his desired world of men, a (white) man embodies his own absolute morality: he not only trusts himself, which enables him to overcome any fear of loss, but he also knows that he can "act each day without fear" (49). This, for Roma, is the way of the world, the way the world is intended to be. But Roma's fantasy of man's moral rightness-man's fearlessness-is nearly dashed when he considers his own position within the destroyed office: it is a scene of chaotic disruption that suggests, paradoxically, an immi- nent dismantling of the myth-driven world that "naturally" empow- ers (all) men within American patriarchy.
Act Like a Man: Challenging Masculinities in American Drama by Robert Vorlicky