Describe Isabella Bird's objectives, actions, obstacles, and inner image in Top Girls act 1.

Quick answer:

In Top Girls, Isabella Bird is a strong character who is shown living a successful, self-directed life as an explorer. She has been able to do as she chooses, and her only major obstacle has been poor health, since she has no husband or children to be concerned about.

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Caryl Churchill begins Top Girls with a dinner party attended by famous women from history and literature. The first to arrive is Isabella Bird, who was a Victorian explorer and writer. Churchill's character is based closely on the real Isabella Bird, who was outspoken and intelligent from an early age but began her adventurous career as a world traveler almost by accident, when her doctor advised her to travel for her health. Her career as a writer began in a similar way, with personal letters forming the basis of her first book.

In the play as in life, exploration and self-determination are Bird's chief objectives. Of all the women at the dinner party, she is the one who suffers least from male oppression. She has no husband or children to restrain her from doing what she wants, and she is impatient of social conventions. Her values are similar to those of Marlene, the protagonist of the play, of whom she is supportive. Her inner image is positive and optimistic. She has overcome illness to live the life of her choice, a type of life far more often enjoyed by men. By her own standards, she has lived a successful life, which means a self-directed one, rather than a life which meets with the approval of others.

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