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Top girls

By lisax Apr 21, 2014 1001 Words
“The fragile relationship between the sexes is a dominant theme of the modern literature”. Evaluate this opinion by comparing and contrasting how relationships between the sexes are presented in the top girls and Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard.

Set at the time it was written, the early 1980's, Top Girls is mainly concerned with two political agendas: feminism and socialism. It may seem surprising to us today that just over thirty years ago the Equal Pay Act and the Sex Discrimination Act came into legal existence. The 1960's and 1970's were an important time for the development of women's rights. Various laws reformed the working and personal lives of women. Contraception became available on the NHS in 1974, and the 1967 Abortion Act had made access to abortion easier. The Equal Pay Act (1970) and the 1975 Sex Discrimination Act brought opportunities for equalities in the workplace and the world of education and the media. These play important roles in the lives of the modern characters of Top Girls. Act 1 and scene 1 highlights the idea of a shared struggle and empowering action that cuts across historical periods is a key theme in Churchill’s play. As Marlene's guests arrive and begin to share their life stories, they distinguish themselves through their disparate upbringings, historical periods, religious and philosophical values, and materially embodied conditions. Even so, the shifting narratives suggest that these women have experienced something common insofar as they have all found ways to thrive in worlds controlled largely by men. Each woman has endured hardship at the hands of a husband, lord, or a patriarchal institution. However, each woman has, in some way, also refused to inhabit her expected role quietly, which reveals the thread that binds them - the opposition to injustice against women. This appears to be the reason that Marlene has assembled these women - because she now considers herself their equal - as a woman who has triumphed over patriarchy. Also, scholars have noted that each of these female characters mirrors some facet of Marlene's psyche. In this essay I will be comparing how relationships between the sexes are presented in ‘Top Girls’ and Hullabaloo in the Guava orchard and i will also be looking at other people’s opinions/ reviews on the play.

 Some say that Churchill has closely based the protagonist Marlene on the politically iconic Margaret Thatcher. Marlene seems to embody both feminist views and the aggressive ‘me first’ philosophy that dominated the business sector in the 1980’s. 

Marlene shares many of the same beliefs about success as Margaret Thatcher and uses her as her own icon in the dialogue. For example Marlene says: “she’s a tough lady that Maggie, I’d give her a job”. This helps to show Marlene relating herself to Thatcher and recognizing Thatcher’s strong and independent views. Marlene says this in a conversation with her sister Joyce whilst talking about her career, she says, “I believe in the individual’’. Marlene is a strong character in ‘Top Girls’ similar to Sampath in ‘Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard’ as he was ‘designed for greatness’ but unlike Marlene, Sampath faced 20 years of failure Act 2, Scene 3 contains a series of interviews and conversations between working women, through which Churchill explores the repercussions of feminism and increased professional opportunities in 1970s Britain. During this decade, a significant amount of legislation was passed addressing abortion rights, divorce, equal pay in the workplace, and sex discrimination. These legal measures, along with the cultural and political effects of the Women’s Rights movement made 1970s a watershed era for increased independence and financial opportunity among women. Churchill’s play nonetheless recognizes that despite these gains, many women continued to face uphill struggles in their work and domestic lives, because of continued gender discrimination as well as the prominent class divide. Marlene is the clearest example of a professional and accomplished “new woman” who is motivated first and foremost by her career ambitions, and not interested in family. Win and Nell are also part of Marlene's world, where women compete directly with men and in some cases, win promotions over them (like Marlene and Howard). When Win and Nell are discussing their weekends, both women indicate a level of indifference towards romantic relationships. Nell goes out with one man on Friday and another on Saturday, while Win is involved in a playful affair with a married man that she has no qualms about abandoning if his wife finds out. They consider themselves to be bright and capable women, working competently in a professional world, happily independent. Churchill portrays the environment of ambition amongst the female "Top Girls" employees when Marlene enters the office. Both Win and Nell women applaud her new promotion, while simultaneously admitting their envy – Nell tells Marlene she doesn’t like “coming second” and Marlene dryly asks her “Who does?” This conversation, coupled with the interviews that Win and Nell conduct later, illustrates the fact that despite the surge of feminist thought in the 1960s and 70s, women’s opportunities for professional advancement and economic freedom remained extremely limited.

Overall, there is a link in the presentation of fragile relationship between both ‘Top Girs’ and Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard’. The male gender is always consider more dominant and superior whilst females where more inferior and looked down upon. In Top Girls

The fragile relationship between the sexes is demonstrated in both texts. However, in Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard, there is an almost acceptance or a rather dismissive nature in regards to inequality between the sexes. Although there is almost a negligent recognition by Pinky of feeling controlled and trapped by her father. The relationship between the sexes appears to be standardised and not rebelled against, possibly because of fixed cultural roles and attitudes unlike that of Top Girls, where the political changes greatly influenced the actions of the characters in the play, such as Marlene being inspired by Margaret Thatcher and women who are more confidently fighting patriarchy after the women’s liberation movement.

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