Discuss the theme of feminism in Top Girls.

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appletrees eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The play addresses feminism in both a direct and offhand manner, as the tone and structure of the play veer from surreal and fantastic to realistic and intimate. In the first act, there is a conversation among women who span history and exhibit different examples of the effects of sexism; many of them have suffered direct physical harm or even death because of their gender. For them to be gathered together in a contemporary setting to share their stories is a way of allowing them to benefit from a feminist perspective without having had access to it in their lifetimes. In the second act, we see contemporary women struggling to balance increased rights and opportunities for women with the same kinds of sexism and limited gender role expectations that affected the women from earlier eras depicted in Act 1.

jugalots | Student

Hi, I am currently doing 'Top Girls' and feminism within a University Essay.

I would note in intro to essay, that feminism is so large within the play, you cannot possibly look at everything and that you have narrowed it down to 3/4 main ideas.




ISOLATIONS- could be spoken about in terms of how women are isolated from job roles (marlene/pope joan) also how women are isolated from real society (lady nijo and grieselda-who are housewifes and only allowed to do as husbands say. 

POWER/SUCCESS - you could speak about how typically men have the power eg grieseldas hubby(gives away her children etc) and also her father (tells her she has to marry him) and also lady nijo (told to be a prostitue and so on.)  Also could include the speach from act 2, where man's wife comes in and says to marlene you should not be promoted shud be my husband, its a mans job etc.  BUT THEN u could say how churchill has disturbed these tradition views in an attempt to expresses feminist ideas that women should have equal jobs etc...does this by marlene getting promotion and also by Pope Joan being a successful pope. 

GENDER EXPECTATIONS - talk about how men=masculine, women=feminine, and how churchill conforms to this typical mainstream theme in characters like grieselda and marlenes sister who be the housewife, career, obident so as told, seen and not heard femine gender.  but then gives females masucline attributes

minilambyx | Student

we have to answer this question for as english lit too. i talked in my essay about how Caryl Churchill portrayed through her characters the different obstacles the women faced both in society and relationships.