Top Girls Essay

1559 WordsApr 11, 20097 Pages
Human gender roles have an innate origin; indeed, many species of animals exhibit behavior that is markedly different between males and females. However, when one group feels it is getting an unfair share of life’s burdens, a society should consider if these gender roles are indeed fair in the light of its evolution over time. The characters in Act 1, Scene 1 of Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls, stand as symbols of successful women in various times and places through the past 1200 years. In their interactions and in Marlene’s relation with her family, the characters demonstrate how women have evolved in their roles, though much progress remains to be made in bettering women's roles. A large part of women's trouble comes from successful women not helping other contemporary and future women to achieve success. With regard to helping to form future successful women, Churchill’s characters demonstrate that by far the most difficult aspect of their struggle has been women’s need to establish for themselves and future women, a definition of femininity that exists intrinsically and separately from the meaning of men’s roles. For example, Lady Nijo and Pope Joan represent the two poles of early medieval womanhood. Nijo, an Emporer's courtesan, is able to be successful as a woman, but only by selling, and thus essentially relinquishing, her sexuality. Joan, on the other hand, represses her sexuality as best she can. In order to be considered successful, early medieval women symbolized by Nijo and Joan either exploited their sexuality for a very temporary benefit, or they suppressed their feminine sexuality—until it forcibly brought itself forward. Each method of gaining success is of dubious benefit to future women, and neither lays a single cobblestone on the path that future women must travel to reach prosperity. Indeed, a drawback of such methods of achievement is that both

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