Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Marlene, the thirty-three-year-old, recently promoted managing director of the Top Girls Employment Agency. A working-class woman who left behind her illegitimate daughter, she has achieved success in the business world by being as tough, ruthless, and aggressive as any man. Politically conservative and emotionally cold, she represents women who have “made it” by incorporating patriarchal standards of success and who are contemptuous of those who have selected more traditional paths. She left her industrial hometown and chose sales as a career because she believed she would be judged on her performance. Later, she settled into a career with Top Girls as a placement counselor, using her knowledge of the business world to help other women get a start. She is sympathetic to the agency’s applicants and expects them to share her ambition and sense of individualism.
Joyce, Marlene’s older sister and acting mother to Angie. She works as a cleaning woman. She stayed home to care for her parents and her husband, as well as Angie, after Marlene left home for London. Politically liberal, with a hatred for the wealthy people who employ her, she rejects Marlene’s money, pity, and contempt and accepts without regret the choices she has made.
Angie, Marlene’s slow-witted seventeen-year-old daughter. Driven by a murderous hatred of Joyce, she suspects that Marlene is her real mother and runs away to London to join her. She is one of those girls who will not, as Marlene says, “make it.”
Pope Joan, who, disguised as a man, reigned...
(The entire section is 683 words.)
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