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The play Top Girls by Caryl Churchill was written during the second-wave feminist period in which women aimed at gaining equal rights, particularly in the workplace. The play focuses on Marlene, a recently promoted woman in the Top Girls employment agency.

However, besides the name of the business, the title also refers to how Marlene and the other "top girls" who appear in act I—Pope Joan, Lady Nijo, Isabella Bird, Patient Griselda, and Dull Gret—gained power. They each sacrificed something, usually a child, to gain status in the world. In act III, we learn that Marlene herself sacrificed her child, Angie, to become the top girl at Top Girl employment agency.

Ultimately, the title Top Girls has various meanings. Literally, the title refers to the employment agency. But the more important meanings in the title are the larger implications of what it means to be a "top girl." First of all, the word "girl" is a bit pejorative. Men looking for jobs or who have achieved success in the world aren't called "boys." In addition, the title refers to what it takes to become a "top" woman. This is something cisgender men generally don't have to do: sacrifice their chance at being a parent.

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On a literal level, the title "Top Girls" reflects the name of the employment agency where Marlene works. However, on a deeper level, "Top Girls" reflect upon Top Women in history: Pope Joan, who disguised herself as a man and has been said to have been Pope from 854-856; Isabella Bird, explorer; Dull Gret, Harrower of Hell; Lady Nijo, Japanese mistress to an emperor, later a Buddhist nun; and Patient Griselda, adapted from the wife in The Clerk's Tale from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. So there you have it, whether fictional or not,all top women, women who did not lead ordinary lives. These historical women are juxtaposed to the modern day women in this play.

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