Top Girls

A Chorus of Issues 12th Grade

Although the characters’ distinctive individual stories are told in Act I of Caryl Churchill’s play Top Girls, the overall effect is a cumulative chorus of women’s issues. The dinner scene in Act I establishes thematic foundations upon which numerous women’s issues can be raised. Despite each character’s clamor of self-absorbed monologue and consequential disinterest or lack of sympathy for the others’ narratives, the women of Act I are fundamentally united through common feminist concepts. Effective use of several literary techniques, stage directions, and contextual parameters essentially serves to emphasize the ultimate chorus of women’s issues.

The predominant issue raised in Act I is that of social confines and identity as expressed through the common premise of clothing. Several characters debate the implications of dress and its suggestions with regard to conventional societal conceptions. A disagreement between Isabella and Joan surfaces over the idea of dressing, whereby Joan’s assumed masculinity as conveyed through her clothing does not concur with Isabella’s notions of femininity; tension and undertones of disapproval are implied in Isabella’s direction to Joan on the topic of dress: “I repudiated strongly any...

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