In what ways is Act I of "Top Girls" a representation of women in society?

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appletrees eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The play portrays a number of female characters from very diverse geographic areas, historical eras, and social class. By allowing these very different women to converse in real time with one another (as guests of a type of talk show being hosted by a contemporary female business woman), the play suggests that women's issues may on some level remain constant throughout history and across cultural lines. It is also true that some characters may seem to exist at an extreme remove from others; for example, the Japanese courtesan, who talks about the intricacy of her clothing as being emblematic of her social status may seem to not have much in common with Dull Gret, the figure from the Breughel painting, who does not seem to be able to articulate her own experience as effectively as other characters. One interesting aspect of the play's style is that the characters often seem to speak in monologues, and not to be listening to each other. Perhaps this suggests that their differences are too great for them to truly understand each others; experiences. But Churchill also seems to be commenting upon the singularity of "universal" female experiences. The ordeal of childbirth is a central motif, for example, but nearly every character has her own story to tell about it, with Pope Joan's account being perhaps the most brutal.That a contemporary "talk show" format is used indicates that women's history can be regarded as one more form of popular entertainment (as with a play).