A Streetcar Named Desire and Top Girl; How Is the Past a Limiting Factor for the Charachters? Essay

Words: 1986
Pages: 8

Luna Bitencourt
“Man…cannot learn to forget, but hangs on to the past: however far or fast he runs that chain runs with him.”- Friedrich Nietzsche (German-Swiss philosopher and writer).
In the light of Nietzsche’s opinion, compare and contrast the presentation of the past as a limiting factor to the identities of the female protagonists in ‘A Streetcar named Desire’ and ‘Top Girls’
Williams and Churchill present the past as a haunting spectre that threatens the characters progress in their future life. Both playwrights construct the past as an emerging chain that, parasitic like, has clinged onto the protagonists’ present and immobilised the characters ability to function and progress. The retroactive structure of Top Girls reinforces
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Londré in M.C. Rouande 1997: 50. At stake for both is something essentially selfish- escape for Blanche, sexual satisfaction and dominance for Stanley.
Equally in Top Girls, Marlene’s sister Joyce clings on to her past. She still criticises Marlene’s judgement by accusing her that “I don’t know how you could leave your own child”. By referring still to Angie as Marlene’s child, suggests that Joyce has not accepted the past and this leads to the growth of her resentment and bitterness, and these sentiments are articulated through the monosyllabic tone of the language. Joyce seems to be imprisoned by her past as she has no means of prospering. The womanly domestic environment becomes Joyce’s biggest limitation and the ending, implies that she is enduringly trapped in the past, leaving her with no hope for the future. The stage direction “Marlene goes. Joyce goes on sitting,” allows the audience to perceive the visual impact the past has created between the mother-daughter relationship, and once again referring back to the post-feminist criticism of Feminist abandoning their concept of sisterhood and embracing a more materialistic society, who care about the individual, much like Margret Thatcher’s