Themes and Meanings

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

Cloud Nine is a play about the residues of Victorian sex-stereotyping and political chauvinism in the modern obsession with sex. The psychic and emotional experiences of Caryl Churchill’s characters result from their sociopolitical environment, forcing the audience to understand that gender identity is a historical and cultural construction.

On one level, colonization serves as a metaphor for the sexual repression that leads to obsession. Clive claims, “I am a father to the natives here./ And father to my family so dear.” When Clive controls the Africans by murdering the disloyal, the loyal servant draws his gun in revenge. When Clive spends his time with a widow, his wife’s drive for sexual fulfillment overcomes her sense of duty.

Solutions to political problems such as colonization or social problems such as sexual politics are very complex. Although the fixed sexual taboos of act 1 are removed in act 2, Churchill reveals that finding suitable individual sexual levels brings greater insecurity, evident in talk unsupported by action. Gerry says that he is willing to settle for a quick sexual release on a train but seeks the security of Edward as mate at the end. Lin says that she chooses a world of women but ends with a loving mother-daughter family relationship. Edward lives as a homosexual, then moves in with Lin because he enjoys caring for her child. Victoria likes sitting with her husband watching their son play but...

(The entire section is 455 words.)

Cloud Nine Themes

Colonialism and Sexism
Churchill wrote in her introduction to the play that she wanted to show ‘‘the parallel between...

(The entire section is 1229 words.)