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Irony Of The Title "Top Girls"

1559 words - 7 pages

“To what extent is the title of the play ‘Top Girls’ ironic in the events of Act One?”

The title of Churchill’s play, ‘Top Girls’, at first appears to compliment the successes of the women who are gathered at the scene. Churchill introduces Marlene, a symbol of the “new woman” of 1980s society, who has successfully been awarded a promotion in a working world dominated by her male peers. By creating a scene in which six historical figures are gathered celebrating Marlene’s successes, it first appears that the women are united through their own individual shared successes. However, as the scene progresses it becomes apparent that there is a common theme of all the women ...view middle of the document...

And some bread, please”, Churchill emphasises how the feminist movement was not creating a society in which women were of equal status as men (as the Suffragettes had intended in the first wave of Feminism), but instead hinders their fight by neglecting the help of women at the bottom of the social hierarchy. Churchill explores how ‘Top Girls’ like Marlene were so focused on their own individual achievements, that they did not help anybody else. They instead adopted a masculine demeanour that allowed them to succeed in the male world of work, and denied themselves a female identity, an action highly ironic to the title which specifies them as being “Top Girls”.

Moreover, Churchill’s representation of the female experience throughout the international history represented by the characters, highlights the irony of her choice in title. The objectification of character’s like Nijo who suffered at the hands of male desire to the extent that “when the time came i did nothing but cry. My thin gowns were badly ripped”. Churchill insinuates that Nijo was raped by the Emperor and furtherly oppressed by the fact society saw her as “[she] belonged to him.” The short sentences used by Nijo reflect the blunt truth of the attitude her repressive society held against women like her; what is more tragic is that it is clear Nijo accepts these views as her own because through her materialistic tendencies she states that her “thin gowns were badly ripped”, rather than focussing on the physical pain the Emperor inflicted upon her. Churchill uses this theme of female suffering to unite the women in a form of sisterhood which could perhaps be seen as a support of the title, ‘Top Girls’, because the women can be seen supporting and sharing their experiences with the other women in this scene.
Through the representation of “Pope Joan”, although at first presented as a ‘Top Girl’ who has reached the peak of her studies and been awarded with the title of “Pope” of the Roman Catholic Church, her suffering emphasises the extremes women faced from the patriarchal establishments, rather than the male population. The most ironic situation of which “they stoned me to death” for being a woman in the position of one of the world’s top male figures, provides a scapegoat for the hatred of women among the masses. Churchill emphasises the religious hypocrisy in the actions of the patriarchal establishments who act in a way their religious teachings deny. It is clear that Churchill paints her “Top Girls” as female victims of their societies, and in doing so, questions just how successful the feminists can claim their actions have truly been. In similarity to Marlene, Joan adopts a masculine identity in order to further progress in her studies. She states “[she] wasn’t used to having a woman’s body” an idea in which Churchill criticises the feminist identity because both women have denied their own femininity to progress...

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