Explore how Carol Churchill presents woman in the role of mother in Top Girls

Published: 2021-09-12 17:50:09
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In the first act, Churchill has created a surreal environment for all of the women. We find, during the course of the meal, that all of the women have things in common. Each of the women had children apart from Isabella. Lady Nijo and Griselda however, had to live without knowing their children because of their husbands, in both cases the husbands removed the children. Dull Gret is slightly different, she experienced living with her children and bringing them up, however her oldest and youngest were killed during war.
Pope Joan does not know what happened to her baby, as she was stoned to death as soon as she gave birth, she assumes they killed it. Marlene, the leader of the women had a completely different story to tell, however she does not talk of it during Act One. Marlene became pregnant at 17 and let her sister, Joyce adopt the baby because at the time Joyce could not become pregnant. Marlene has since, had two abortions. Griselda, Lady Nijo and Marlene are all similar in the fact that they all had to sacrifice their children for a particular reason. Griselda sacrificed her children to make the man she loved happy.
Griselda does not arrive to the meal until quite late, the other women are all drunk and merry and Griselda appears un noticed. She appears polite but shy and does not want to make a fuss but eventually gives into a pudding, "Oh if everyone is. I don't mind. " Marlene automatically puts her in the spot light by introducing her as having the "fairy-story" life. All of the women become interested in Griselda's story and begin questioning it. Griselda, whilst talking appears still faithful to the Marquis, "But of course a wife must obey her husband. And of course I must obey the Marquis. Throughout the story of Griselda's life, Marlene acts as if she is almost showing off that she already knows the story, "Oh, you wait. " This shows that Marlene feels a need to be included and in control at all times. Unlike Lady Nijo, Griselda spent six weeks with her first born, a girl, Nijo finds this hard to believe, "Much better to do it straight away. " Only Nijo truly understands Griselda's life and she has been put in the same position, Marlene finds it an outrage that she let the Walter take her baby, "Walter was bonkers" and obviously, it will be hard for Gret to accept as she brought up her own children, "Bastard".



Even when everybody else is being un fair and negative about Walter, Griselda remains with her upbeat attitude, whilst still shy she shows her feelings. Griselda takes up much of the conversation when she arrives, and when this conversation has ended she doesn't talk much more. Throughout Act One and throughout Griselda's life story Lady Nijo listens, and doesn't talk an awful lot about her background and history. She talks about her past in and amongst everyone else's conversation, although they listen to her, they do not pay as much attention to her as they do to Griselda.
Lady Nijo does not appear as hurt and as faithful to her children as Griselda did to hers, this is probably because Griselda spent a short time with her children and Nijo did not. Lady Nijo's first baby was Akenbono's, a girl and he received it and brought it up with his wife. Her second, was to an unknown and the third and fourth children were Ariake the priests. Nijo never saw her third child after it was born and admits feeling nothing at all for her third son, her fourth child. I think that this is because Ariake had died before the birth and she was still grieving him, "I didn't want to see anyone. In Act Two Scene Two we are introduced to Marlene, a character brought in from Act One, Joyce, Marlene's sister, Angie, Joyce's daughter and Marlene's niece and Kit, Angie's friend.
The following scene concentrates mainly on Marlene's niece, Angie and her younger friend, Kit. We begin to realise that Angie maybe slightly "simple" and troubled as she talks to Kit about controlling objects with her mind and things falling from the walls in her house, "Last night I was in bed and suddenly a picture fell down off the wall. The pair continually ignore Angie's mother, Joyce, shouting them from the house. This shows disrespect of the children to their mother. The childlike attitude of the children continues throughout the play, they continue to ignore the mother shouting and continue bantering as children would, "I don't want her to like me. " This eventually progresses into Angie suggesting that Joyce is not her biological mother, and Marlene, her aunt, is. "I think I'm my aunts child. I think my mother's really my aunt.
For a girl of Angie's mentality to suggest something as complex as this must suggest that her and Joyce do not have a loving, sharing relationship, however, Angie's only explanation for this suggestion is "my mother hates her. " We learn further on in Scene Two that Joyce does not think very highly of Angie "I don't know who'd have her, mind. " This seems stranger for a mother to say to another child about her own daughter. This is possibly where Churchill is trying to insinuate that, at heart, Joyce does not care for her child as much as a normal mother would. Showing cracks in the couples, mother daughter relationship.
Another loss of respect between Joyce and Angie is shown when Joyce calls her a "Fucking rotten little cunt. " And states "You can stay there and die", this either shows that Joyce is now sick of Angie not listening to her or if she just does not have enough respect for her. Act Three actually happens a year before Act Two happens. Therefore the old dress that Angie puts on in Act Two, is the dress that Marlene gives her as a present in Act Three. Marlene and Joyce seem to have an awkward relationship, they are constantly bickering when Marlene first arrives, "I don't mind seeing you. "Great, I feel really welcome. " The pair wait until Angie has gone to bed before talking about her and her life, Angie refuses to go to sleep fore quite a while because her aunty is there, but eventually she gives in. Joyce then begins to talk about Angie, "I don't know how you could leave your own child. ", Marlene does not react badly to this vicious statement, she simply replies, "You were quick enough to take her. " I feel that this shows that Marlene does not know how much Joyce has done for her.
She obviously does not appreciate that Joyce has brought Angie up the best that she could so that Marlene could move away and concentrate on her career. Joyce begins to take ownership of Angie as the argument continues, showing that she has a bond with her child, motherly love. "Course I do, she's my child. " Instead of moving away and getting a job and making money, Joyce took Marlene's baby and gave it a life. The relationship between Marlene and Joyce begins to break up as the two begin to blame each other for the mistakes they have made in life, "I did get pregnant and I lost it because I was so tired looking after your fucking baby. The Act ends with Joyce and Marlene apologising and Joyce going to bed, leaving Marlene alone to have another drink. Angie then wakes up calling for her mother and walks downstairs, when Angie realises that its Marlene sat there and Joyce has gone to bed she only mutters two words, "frightening" "frightening". This symbolises Angie's weirdness and simple mindedness. Is she speaking about the conversation between Joyce and Marlene or is she speaking about the fact that she thought Marlene was her mother ?

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