Top Girls


Caryl Churchill

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Dull Gret Character Analysis

Dull Gret is the subject of Dulle Griet, a Flemish renaissance painting by Pieter Brueghel the Elder. The painting depicts Gret—an older woman clad in long skirts and battle armor—leading a group of women to pillage Hell. The painting is meant to depict shrewish, demanding women in pursuit of their own greed—in including Gret in the dinner party, Churchill highlights the sexism inherent in this portrayal and yet also draws a subtle comparison between Gret’s desire for power and riches, and Marlene’s. Gret is a woman of few words, though she unleashes her experience towards the end of the dinner party in a long monologue; in it, she reveals that she and the other women in her village had watched their children die as casualties of war, and stormed Hell as a way to fight evil at its root.

Dull Gret Quotes in Top Girls

The Top Girls quotes below are all either spoken by Dull Gret or refer to Dull Gret. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Life Under the Patriarchy Theme Icon
Act One, Scene One Quotes

MARLENE: Magnificent all of you. We need some more wine, please, two bottles I think, Griselda isn’t even here yet, and I want to drink a toast to you all.

ISABELLA: To yourself surely, we’re here to celebrate your success.

NIJO: Yes, Marlene.

JOAN: Yes, what is it exactly, Marlene?

MARLENE: Well it’s not Pope but it is managing director.

JOAN: And you find work for people.

MARLENE: Yes, an employment agency.

NIJO: Over all the women you work with. And the men.

ISABELLA: And very well deserved too. I’m sure it’s just the beginning of something extraordinary.

MARLENE: Well it’s worth a party.

ISABELLA: To Marlene.

MARLENE: And all of us.

JOAN: Marlene.

NIJO: Marlene.

GRET: Marlene.

MARLENE: We’ve all come a long way. To our courage and the way we changed our lives and our extraordinary achievements. (They laugh and drink a toast.)

Related Characters: Marlene (speaker), Isabella Bird (speaker), Lady Nijo (speaker), Dull Gret (speaker), Pope Joan (speaker), Patient Griselda
Related Symbols: Top Girls Employment Agency
Page Number: 24
Explanation and Analysis:

GRET: We come to hell through a big mouth. Hell’s black and red. It’s […] like the village where I come from. There’s a river and a bridge and houses. There’s places on fire like when the soldiers come. There’s a big 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, and it’s money, so a lot of the women stop and get some. But most of us is fighting the devils. There’s lots of little devils, our size, and we get them down all right and give them a beating. […] Well we’d had worse, you see, we’d had the Spanish. We’d all had family killed. My big son die on a wheel. Birds eat him. My baby, a soldier run her through with a sword. I’d had enough, I was mad, I hate the bastards. I come out of my front door that morning and shot till my neighbours come out and I said, “Come on, we’re going where the evil come from and pay the bastards out.” And they all come out just as they was from baking or […] washing in their aprons, and we push down the street and the ground opens up and we go through a big mouth into a street just like ours but in hell. […] You just keep running on and fighting, you didn’t stop for thing. Oh we give them devils such a beating.

Related Characters: Dull Gret (speaker)
Page Number: 39-40
Explanation and Analysis:
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Top Girls PDF

Dull Gret Character Timeline in Top Girls

The timeline below shows where the character Dull Gret appears in Top Girls. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act One, Scene One
Life Under the Patriarchy Theme Icon
Women’s Stories Theme Icon
Dull Gret arrives at the party. Marlene introduces Gret to Nijo, while Isabella greets Gret as if... (full context)
Women’s Stories Theme Icon
Isabella attempts to engage Gret in conversation, asking if she ever had any horses. Gret replies with one word only:... (full context)
Life Under the Patriarchy Theme Icon
Women’s Stories Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
...were born, but oddly, she says, by the fourth child she “felt nothing.” Marlene asks Gret, who has been nearly silent thus far, how many children she had; Gret replies “ten.” (full context)
Life Under the Patriarchy Theme Icon
Women’s Stories Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
Finally, Gret begins talking. She describes pillaging Hell with the other women of her village. Marlene urges... (full context)