Top Girls Notes

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Language and communication
The abrupt nature of the utterances in Top Girls reflects a style of playwriting that is more modern, where a short sentence can be loaded with meaning. The minimal use of words lays bare the main issues while allowing much dramatic effect through their simplicity. There is more strength in what is not said, and the clarity of speech does not mean that there are fewer issues to decode. The language of misogyny, appropriated by women, is apparent in Joyce's swearing at Angie that she is a 'cunt'. The use of strong language serves to shock, and alongside the use of vocabulary and knowledge of the character's backgrounds, reinforces the class of Marlene and her family. In Angie's case, it shows how Joyce's attitudes and ways of speaking affect her, and is also a response to her hurt feelings. Pope Joan's use of Latin is interesting: Latin has been known as the language of learning, with influence on different languages, especially in the fields concerning medicine, the law and education. Education in Latin was denied to women during medieval times. In speaking Latin to a modern audience, and to her own immediate audience, Joan is alienating others. Her meaning is not important: it is the fragmented nature of the conversation and isolated experience that is reinforced. The lack of support that women give each other is evident at the dinner party hosted by Marlene, where the women do not really consider each other's stories. Marlene acts as a modern female host, reminiscent of the Host of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, bringing together diverse people who tell a story but who only tell a story for their own reasons, and Feminism

Feminism is a much-maligned word these days. It is associated with an image that is negative and, quite simply, wrong. Feminists are not man-haters, and nor do they support the idea of inequality between the sexes through a simple realignment of power boundaries. Their aim seemed to be a greater equality, where the...
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