What Have You Found Interesting About Churchill’s Use Of Language In The Following Extract
The extract I have chosen to analyse is from the Methuen book, Top Girls, page 111 (When Mrs.Kidd enters) through until when she leaves towards the end of page 112.
During this extract the audience is exposed to two major differing social classes. Mrs.Kidd is a vast contrast to Marlene, as she is very well spoken, whereas Marlene’s language is a little less appropriate for the workplace. It is obvious that the two characters are of differing social classes, due to their names. Mrs.
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Kidd is the only person in the play given a surname, and her forename is Rosemary, which illustrates a middle class background. Marlene, on the contrary is a name more associated with working class backgrounds, as shown in a hit television series called, “Only Fools and Horses” in which a woman of working class background is represented.
I think that the two woman represent the two main social groups of the nineteen eighties England, one a middle class housewife completely supportive of her husband and traditionalist views on ‘a woman’s place’ in society, and the other a working class career woman who has made her own way to success, without the aid of a man, she is in Mrs.Kidd’s eyes anyway,
“…one of those ball breakers/…”
Mrs.Kidd’s intentions are unclear to Marlene until she comes straight with it, she says to Marlene,
“The fact is he’s in a state of shock. About what’s happened.”
Marlene is surprised and doesn’t understand what she means, until she explains exactly what she means,
“I’m referring to you being appointed director instead of Howard.”
Marlene replies to Howard’s sleeping problems with sarcasm,
“Has he thought of taking sleeping pills.”
I think that Churchill implies that Marlene doesn’t really care and that it isn’t her problem. Mrs.Kidd then goes on to say that Howard deserved the job, because he’d,
“…worked all these years.”
Experience, however isn’t as important in the modern era of work, when qualifications bear more significance on a job application than experience. Marlene refers to this as one of business’ ‘little setbacks’. I think that Churchill attempts to make this line into a very poignant moment, as Marlene herself had a setback in the form of her daughter, Angie, whom she gave up to her elder sister, which enabled her to bounce back. I think that the poignancy would be lost as the conversation would be acted at a furious pace and the audience wouldn’t have sufficient time to react and sympathise with Marlene.
Marlene takes a very professional approach to the conversation, using formal language and keeping her cool throughout the conversation, and ensures that Mrs.Kidd lowers the tone, so that she cannot be reprimanded by her senior colleagues, for dealing with the situation incorrectly.
Mrs.Kidd comes across as being very discriminatory towards her own sex, when she says,
“What’s it going to do to him working for a woman?”
This question implies that Mrs.Kidd doesn’t believe in equality in the workplace and again reinforces her middle class traditionalistic views on a woman’s place in society.
Marlene’s reply is a controlled sign of her frustration at Mrs.Kidd’s ignorance towards the state of the modern workplace.
I think that Mrs.Kidd’s next lines show that Churchill doesn’t wish to show her as an individual, but more as a part or possession of her husband, Howard.
Marlene sympathises with Howard, saying that she’ll be tactful and pleasant, but for Mrs.Kidd, this isn’t enough, she takes it too far by saying,
“I think it is different, because he’s a man.”
I think that this bold statement enrages Marlene, but she manages to bottle up her emotions. I think this is also used by Churchill to display to the audience Mrs.Kidd’s naivety to the modern workplace. Marlene appears beleaguered in her response,
“I’m not quite sure why you came to see me.”
As she feels that Mrs.Kidd has not achieved anything positive and has merely made a fool of herself and her husband. Mrs.Kidd appears to have realised that she hasn’t achieved anything, and is almost giving up, when she says,
“I had to do something.”
I think that Marlene attempts to sympathise with Mrs.Kidd, when she says,
“I’m sorry he’s taking it out on you. He really is a shit, Howard.”
Because she uses derogatory language towards him, I think she is blaming Howard and trying to tell Mrs.Kidd that it isn’t her problem entirely, and that Howard needs to deal with his own problems. Mrs.Kidd then tries to deploy another weapon, emotional blackmail, she says,
“But he’s got a family to support.”
Implying that they need the money more than Marlene, who is a single woman. Then she suggests that Marlene gives up the job, saying,
“It’s only fair.”
I think this inference sends Marlene into a state of shock as she replies,
“Are you suggesting I give up the job to him then?”
Mrs.Kidd thinks that Marlene has finally taken heed of what she has said and that she has succeeded in her quest to gain her husband the job. Marlene becomes confrontational and has no time for Mrs.Kidd, when Mrs.Kidd says,
“I’m not asking.”
Even though she blatantly is, to which Marlene replies sarcastically and goes on to tell her that,
“If he doesn’t like what’s happening here he can go and work somewhere else.”
Mrs.Kidd now becomes enraged and starts hurling abuse at Marlene, but the language has no effect on Marlene, who eventually says,
“Could you please piss off.”
Although this is abusive, I think that Churchill wants it to have the effect of displaying to the audience that Marlene is in control of the situation and is very calm and calculating in her response.
I think that this scene bears great significance on the play as it displays Marlene’s professionalism and ability to cope with the workplace and problems. The extract also illustrates intentions of satirizing the middle class of the time and the Thatcherists, like Marlene.