The Removalists: Summary Essay
The Removalists raised three fundamental questions:
One socio-cultural (Is Australian society violent of its essence?) Political (do the forces of law and order rest on violence?) Psychological (do all of us have the kinds of aggressive instincts or behaviour patterns which Williamson depicts?)
The ocker character used an exaggerated language that existed in the streets. He had limited range of values and experiences a negative view of women, he drank excessively, vulgar. He disliked losing control of any social or work situation. He was egotistical bullying intolerant dominant and loud in conversation with others. His speech was lurid vulgar offensive and usually derogatory in a racist sexist tone. The ocker usually had a certain amount of self parody in addition to boorish, aggressive behaviour. The ocker represented a satirical image of contemporary culture which was both comic and apparently authentic The reader naturally sympathises with the least competent character because of their vulnerability (Ross appeals this way).
Williamson is concerned with his characters’ patterns of behaviour. He is not concerned with psychological explanation or motivation of characters. They exist for the moment only. They have no past to offer insight into characters. Williamson might also have considered what could be taken away from a person, removed from them reducing them to their lowest common denominator. In the play these removals include dignity, respect, compassion, value, humanity, sexuality, possessions, pride, masculinity, feminity and in Kenny’s case his life.
These reductions occur as a consequence of violence, whether physical, verbal or psychological Kenny believes that his wife deserves to be physically beaten and attacked because she not completed domestic duties to her husband satisfaction. Their marriage was culturally typical acceptable almost tolerable. His concern for his daughter’s health is insincere. He uses this false concern as an excuse to dominate his wife. Kenny and Fiona exist as characters to depict domestic violence, the violence of men to women. Kenny is known as the typical suburban ocker whereas the Sergeant Simmonds is ocker at work. Kenny fears losing control over his wife (it is typical properties of ocker at home). He wants to assert physical dominance over his wife. Kenny is ultimately to die as a consequence of sustained violence. Fiona is vulnerable at the police station by the insistence of the Sergeant that she show her bruises. Kate becomes an accomplice in this degrading incident. Fiona is not as aware as her sister Kate. Kate appears to enjoy the flirtation. Kate represents culture and privilege.
Simmonds detests Kate for her class difference. Simmonds becomes self righteous and denounces her for immoral behaviour. “A position of privilege carries certain responsibilities Mrs Mason. A man who occupies a position of leadership in industry should not abuse that responsibility.” Sergeant Simmonds is an ocker but he has the power of the law behind him. Ross is made to feel less than a man. He humiliates and makes a mockery (Simmonds is empowered by putting him down). He is deceptive tries to seduce the women. Near the play end the similarity between Simmonds and Kenny, they share beer together. They line up their similar values. (Simmonds strikes a deal with Kenny to arrange a prostitute for him )
Ross’s anger has built up to an uncontrollable level because of Simmonds taunting and ridicule but the anger is taken out on Kenny who was already half dead and defenceless. The same misplaced dumping of anger that Fiona receives from Kenny. Ross is caught up in aggressive behavior. The reader is willing to see Ross as inadequate but in fact. It is Ross who succumbs to violence and bashes Kenny near to the death at the play’s end. The fact that Ross is a victim of circumstance does not exonerate him. The removalist is a worker who is only concerned with himself and getting his money. The removalist is without compassion. The removalist removes human kindness. The removalist refuses to get involved. His only concern is for money and himself. His job as a removalist gives him masculine importance and therefore credibility, possibly respect or so he thinks
The language used in The Removalists is brutal and bawdy and functions as verbal violence (dominated by men). The power struggle between them is fought with aggressive, ridiculing languages and physic violence. Clichés with sexual innuendo occur frequently and are used in retaliation. They use words to advance their cause (Simmonds coerces Kate into making herself sexuality available. Kenny encourages Sergeant to lose his temper and can build a legal case against him. Words are used to antagonise and provoke so that the accuser can achieve dominance. Words of irony are used by characters to put forward an ‘ideal’ behaviour which they themselves fall short of (Simmonds talks that he has never lost his temper. But in Kenny case, he punches him in front of women.)
The crudity and cliché in the language is at times so excessive that do people really mean what they say. Sarcasm and mock-courtesy are also used by characters who want dominate another (Kenny uses every verbal assault at his disposal while Simmonds and Ross use physical assault. Sergeant dominates his junior Ross in the same manner to overpower him). The misogyny is perhaps the most glaring feature of the language. It only serves to exaggerate the male characters’ hatred to women, whom they claim as their property. How each character speaks to another character reveals their position of power in the social order. Much of their language is cased in insult and verbal abuse. He gains cohesiveness of characterisation, themes and plot structure via the language.
Violence is the dominant theme throughout. (Simmonds uses verbal and physical violence on Ross and Kenny. Later he is verbally manipulative with Kate whom he hopes to seduce). Masculinity: most of the violence perpetrated is about asserting masculine power (both men and women). Masculinity is also defined by men’s ability to perform sexually (core of masculinity). Man is constantly referred to in relation to his sexuality and his sexual capabilities (measure of his strength as a person and as a man). (Simmonds and Kenny both have a strong will and sheer physical seniority brute strength.) Misogyny: The men within the play act in a predatory way.
Fear of difference: psychology of these male characters is fear. In fact almost every character is distrusting of each other. Disrespect for Authority/class: Simmonds ties class position and behaviour together expecting better of the upper class. Kenny rebels against the authority of the macho police (no respect for their authority). The most obvious class differentiation is noted between the offspring of the Simmonds and Kate.
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