By Robert Vorlicky
How males speak with one another on level while no ladies are present--and what it tells us approximately strength and gender
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Additional resources for Act Like a Man: Challenging Masculinities in American Drama
For this reason, the realist male-cast dramatic canon ap- pears as a considerable semiotic system, one so rigidly coded as to 22 ï»¿GENDER, STRUCTURE, AND DIALOGUE restrict severely the range of representations available to the dra- matic imagination. Once the mechanics of this system are revealed, however, the playwright has the option-through a radical rework- ing of the codes of male dialogue-to articulate and to stage new types of male subjectivity, new masculinities. 23 ï»¿ ï»¿U The American Masculine Ethos, Male Mythologies, and Absent Women Glengarry Glen Ross, David Mamet Near the conclusion of David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross, Richard Roma, a sleazy, cutthroat salesman, stands amid his em- ployer's burgled real estate office.
9 Certainly the gender privilege of naming is not lost on Mamet's salesman. Each man, Roma implies, has power over the Other to name the value of life's experiences and expenditures. In fact, it is a man's duty, Roma intimates, to take it upon himself to exercise that power. At no point does the salesman underestimate the im- portance of inflating his lead's ego with the rhetoric of masculine privilege. He speaks soulfully and hyperbolically to his listener. The irony is, however, that upon his reconnection with Lingk in act 2, Roma realizes that he must rescue his fellow man from the real influence of the Other: he must do battle with Lingk's wife, one of Glengarry's absent women, in order to win back his weaken- ing, vacillating customer.
We're just talking... (39-40) 36 ï»¿AMERICAN MASCULINE ETHOS, MALE MYTHOLOGIES, AND ABSENT WOMEN The talk between Moss and Aaronow is dotted throughout with these metalinguistic interactions. In the previous exchange, the men are unable (or unwilling) to use language to convey specific meanings. They choose to maintain a social dialogue that is vague and ambiguous, or as Moss might estimate, a language that is pleas- ingly "simple" (35). To "keep it simple" (46) is also for Moss and Aaronow to keep their sights on a basic cultural power that they can (re)gain, if only for a while, if a robbery is successful: economic potency.