Answer the following questions in regard to Isabella Bird in act 1 of Top Girls. What does your character say about herself? What does your character say about others? What do others say about your character?

In Top Girls, Isabella Bird tells the others all about her upbringing in a religious home in Scotland and how, after her father's death, she broke away from the confines of her hometown and began to live a life closer to her own heart. She talks about herself throughout and does very little listening.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Isabella Bird is a nineteenth-century Scottish traveler who spends the first act talking about herself. She sometimes responds to what the others are saying, but she often only uses what they say to express something about herself. For example, on the first page, Isabella asks Marlene if she has a...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Isabella Bird is a nineteenth-century Scottish traveler who spends the first act talking about herself. She sometimes responds to what the others are saying, but she often only uses what they say to express something about herself. For example, on the first page, Isabella asks Marlene if she has a sister. When she says yes, Isabella goes onto talk about her own sister Hennie. She does criticize Nijo's Buddhist religion, however. In that regard, Isabella comes across as very narrow-minded.

Isabella was brought up in a Christian home. Her father was a clergyman and a mainstay in her life up to the age of fifty. She says she was terribly upset when he died, but in a way, his death seemed to free her to finally become herself. As she states, she had pretended to be someone interested in intellectual pursuits when really she was always more of a practical person. She began traveling and taking up such activities as horse riding. On her return to England, she was so wracked with guilt about have lead such a self-gratifying life that she threw herself into charity work. Later on in life, while suffering from gout, she took one last trip to Morocco to see the emperor.

Isabella seems to have been in two minds about whether to conform and do what her father wanted her to do with her life or go wild. While it looks like she chose the second option, it also appears that she could never quite abandon herself to it as much as she would have liked. For example, she still viewed people from other cultures as Barbaric. Traveling does not seem to have liberated her mind.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team