Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/26666
Caryl Churchill‘s Top Girls was premiered in 1982, but the ideas it brought forward are still relevant to the status of women today and the current political climate.
In this essay, the intersection of class and gender is looked at in the context of Top Girls through Engels‘s assertion that private property is the source of women‘s oppression, as it forces them into marriages where men control them, as they control property. In Engels‘s view this creates a relationship between men and women which is analogous to the relationship between the proleteriat and the bourgeois, in which women are doubly oppressed. Futher, issues surrounding women‘s careers and success in Top Girls are explored through Edwin Ardener‘s theory of muted groups and Shelly Ortner‘s theory of public and private spheres.
The questions of what success means for a woman in a system where the very definition of success is framed by male ideals, and whether women‘s successes can perhaps serve to further oppress other women rather than empower them, are raised through the play‘s themes of competition, motherhood and the idea of success as a male discourse.
The play is put in context with the political landscape of the time of its premiere under Thatcher‘s government and with Thatcher herself, who models the type of denial of femininity Churchill seems to believe is neccecary in order to succeed in a world where the definition of success in general is derived from traditionally male templates. The central relationship of the play, between the protagonist, Marlene, and her sister, Joyce, is thus viewed as a political allegory: the struggle of the upper classes to accept that their success is built on the backs of the lower classes they oppress.