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Use of Language in Top Girls

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  • Pages: 3
  • Word count: 727
  • Category: Language

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Characters are portrayed by their language. Take Joyce for example, the way she talks to Angie is in a non motherly way. “Fucking rotten little cunt. You can stay out there and die. I’ll lock the backdoor”. This is an angry person’s speech, but Joyce put it towards her daughter. This could reflect on there relationship showing not much respect towards Angie. The word ‘cunt’ alone is not a very nice word. This is rarely used in modern day language as it is seen to be a really horrible offensive word. This shows Joyce’s personality being very spiteful, angry and shows dislike etc.

The audience would have felt sorry for Angie being treated the way she did. It also made them realise the conflict between them both due to finding out Marlene was her real mother later on in the script. When I used this in my practical work, I thought Joyce was really horrible to Angie. It was a one way thing, but Angie did talk about her ‘mum’ quite a bit too showing not much of a good relationship between them both. She said to Kit, “wish she was dead”, this is not a normal thing to say to your mum. It also shows distress in the way I pictured the speech as it was said bluntly.

There is a sense of irony in Kit’s next line, “wanna watch the exterminator”, as exterminator is a thing that kills other things. This makes me think that Kit knows a lot about how Angie feels about her ‘mum’ and how Joyce treats Angie, therefore encourages Angie to do it. In the scene where all the girls are drunk, the way they are showing the audience this, was through speech. This was hard as they were all static at the time therefore could not really show they were drunk through actions, but through speech.

For example- Pope Joan recites Lucretius in Latin. Suave, mari mango turbantibus aequora ventis, e terra magnum alterius spectare laborem”. She was always more concerned with her knowledge than with active Christianity. The others show slight drunkenness in talking about when Gret went to hell. Like Isabella says “listen, she’s been to hell”. Who would believe that for a second? And Gret was describing what happened to them all. “There’s a devil sat on a roof with a big hole in his arse and he’s scooping stuff out of it with a big ladle and it’s falling down on us”. Doesn’t this quote say it all?

Angie has been shown, by Caryl Churchill, to be mentally retarded at her age of 16. She has a friend called Kit who is 12 years old, so this shows the audience that Angie doesn’t have any friends of her own age, and that also she has the childish mind still of a 12 year old. Her speech proves this. “I been thinking yesterday could I make things move. You know, make things move by thinking about them without touching them. Last night I was in bed and suddenly a picture fell down off the wall”. Angie doesn’t really understand the meaning of swearwords.

She uses them I think, just to show off to kit as kit is younger. Angie just wants to look big. “Mind my hair/ you silly cunt”, and kits reply “stupid fucking cow, I hate you” then Angie says “I don’t care if you do”. This shows Angie doesn’t really understand the meaning of friends, and being a friend. Also the word ‘silly’ alone, Is a childish word, but the word ‘cunt’ once again, is very offensive, and has been shown to be an adult word. This conversation between the two of them shows that they are on the same level. Also the word hate has been used.

This shows that Kit doesn’t really understand the concept of hating someone, so just comes out with it, not really considering anyone else’s feeling towards it. Angies reply says it all. Angie doesn’t really understand either, therefore says she don’t care. When actually someone would care. Caryl has used stars (*), hyphens (-) and forward slashes (/) in the speech of everyone in top girls. This makes the scrip seem like a natural conversation as the forward slashes stand for interrupting. It wouldn’t seem naturalistic if there was a pause after each line. The conversation would be lost and it wouldn’t flow.

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