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The Price Women Paid For Expressing Their Individuality And Independence

1193 words - 5 pages

The Price Women Paid for Expressing Their Individuality and Independence

Caryl Churchill once stated, "Playwrights don't give answers, they ask
questions". For Churchill, that meant questioning the relationship
between women and labour, and what effect they would have on the
workplace and in society. In her play, "Top Girls," The plot centres
around Marlene, who is a product of gender equality and women in the
workplace. Churchill utilizes Marlene's character to show the
opposition between an ethic of caring and an ethic of competition,
Marlene representing the latter. Various characters throughout the
story, such as the obedient Griselda and the troubled Angie, are the
opposites of Marlene, in that they are either subservient to men or
have no real determination or direction in their lives. The most
obvious parallel to Marlene is the young girl Kit, who is the friend
of Marlene's daughter (Angie). It is easiest to observe the
similarities of these two characters in order to get a clear picture
as to how Churchill sees women being affected by competition and a
male-dominated society. Act I scene 3 takes place with Angie and Kit
hiding from Joyce in a shelter. In it Kit makes the statement, "Do you
wanna watch The Exterminator?" The title of exterminator can be linked
to Marlene in an earlier scene at the employment agency in which she
smashes a woman's hopes and potential by sending her to a clerical job
with a lamp shade manufacturer, when in truth the women probably had a
lot more talent than the job required. Marlene also shows her ruthless
exterminating side in the office when she gets a job promotion and her
male counterpart does not. Even when the man's wife, Mrs. Kidd, comes
to tell Marlene how the decision has ruined her husband, Marlene
simply answers in a cold fashion, "If he doesn't like what's happening
here he can go and work somewhere else,". One might even say that
Marlene is cold and indifferent to Mrs. Kidd because she represents
the complete opposite of Marlene; a wife who puts her husband first
and thinks women should let men be promoted before women.
Characteristics of Marlene can be seen throughout the discourse
between Kit and Angie, with Kit making statements such as, "I'm not
scared of anything," and, "I'd find out where they were going to drop
it and stand right in the place," .The bomb can be related to
Marlene's competition and advancement in the workplace, for she is
making an "explosion" into a man's world by surpassing that of her
male colleague. Kit also expresses her ability and desire to take on a
traditionally male profession, such as a physicist. This profession is
comparable to Marlene's job of Managing Director, which she has
ruthlessly beat-out her male peer for. Other instances in which
Marlene is portrayed by Churchill to be the essence of a...

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