Act Like a Man: Challenging Masculinities in American Drama by Robert Vorlicky

By Robert Vorlicky

How males converse with one another on level whilst no ladies are present—and what it tells us approximately strength and gender

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Certainly, Moss weaves a seductive fiction when he suggests that both Aaronow and he will somehow benefit if their attempted robbery is successful. What Moss overlooks and Aaronow fails to challenge, however, is the penalty that each will pay if caught for committing this crime. Both men construct a fiction that they will acquire lasting economic power, a wish that will be immediately gratified when they are hired for more lucrative positions by their current competitors. Yet, Moss and Aaronow manufacture the illusion of truth out of lies.

These duologues in fact dramatize primal duels for domination, power and survival" 28 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. Each of these three men is staunchly committed to dialogue that reinforces the masculine ethos and its attendant mythologies.

And Levene, who is the unsuspecting victim of Moss's plan, is identified by William- son as the man who robbed the office. The play ends with it being revealed to the staff that Levene, one of the salesmen's own, had 32 AMERICAN MASCULINE ETHOS, MALE MYTHOLOGIES, AND ABSENT WOMEN turned against them in his desire to win the contest and guarantee the survival of his own job. The men's involvement with one another reveals what each man thinks of himself, as he talks about or relates to business.

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