Top Girls Act 1

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  • Topic: Top Girls, Caryl Churchill, Lady Nijo
  • Pages : 3 (929 words )
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  • Published : October 28, 2012
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English Literature Essay

Subject: What is the purpose of Act 1 in Top Girls ?

Top Girls is a play written by Caryl Churchill in 1988, which mixes fiction to reality, which is one reason why it was so popular at the time. Act 1 is a long spectacular dinner scene where several feminist themes are discussed. These themes echo throughout the play and as the play keeps changing perspectives, this first act is full of contradictions. Act 1 has different functions which will all be approached in this essay, these include reflecting the view of women of the time and contrast it with other times, setting the mood and the atmosphere of the play, introducing the themes of the play and introducing the story and the characters.

Act 1 of Top Girls opens in a restaurant where Marlene is hosting a dinner party for five friends on a Saturday night. She has recently been promoted at work. The five guests are all women that are either long dead or are fictional characters from literature or paintings. They keep arriving but at the beginning there is only Isabella and Marlene. As the guests continue to arrive, the conversation starts the way it carries on. The women talk over each other and do not appear to be listening to each other's stories, they keep interrupting each other and this is what makes the play hard to follow. This raises issues about a lack of solidarity and support amongst women and the repressed truth of each woman's experience. The five guests of Marlene are: Isabella Bird a women that lived in the 19th century which travelled a lot, Lady Nijo who is a Japanese courtesan in the 13th century that became a Buddhist nun and travelled Japan, Dull Gret which a lady in a painting of Brueghel, Pope Joan a lady that supposedly disguised herself as a man to become pope in the 9th century and Patient Griselda who is the obedient wife whose story is told in the Canterbury Tales.

In my opinion, the main purpose of Act 1 of Top Girls is to set the mood and the...
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