Role of men in Top Girls (Caryl Churchill)

Essay by Estrella-sanHigh School, 11th gradeB+, September 2014

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Essay: The role of men in Top Girls

Caryl Curchill is one of the rare English contemporary female writers. Top Girls is not her only play that shows her feminist side. But, unlike her previous plays, as Owners or Cloud Nine for example, she can't show the male chauvinism as she used to with male characters [respectively, Clegg (Act I Scene 1) or Clive (Act I Scene 3)]. What is the role of men in Top Girls?

First of all, we have to remark that men are completely absent as characters appearing on stage. But, paradoxically, they've never been so present. The title of the play supposes that we're only going to talk about "Girls". But even the word "women", in itself, contains the word "men". The idea of men actually appears in the whole expression "Top Girls" because this term is undeniably linked with leaving people behind and being alone at the "top", which is often associated to a man's position in the patriarchal society.

After reading, we can clearly see that the power and the superiority of men are preponderant in the play. This is shown through different characters, mostly as fathers and husbands (first type of oppression: the patriarchal society). In the first act, Griselda is an example of the representation of the perfect woman for a patriarchal society. Indeed, she's a peasant and assumes completely the fact that men are superior to women, she even defends her husband when Marlene reminds her that he has taken her baby ("Marlene, you're always so critical of him. Of course he was normal"). Nijo and Griselda share the idea of men's superiority (the Marquis talks to Griselda's father; Nijo was living with her father, when he died she "had only his Majesty"). In...