Top Girls

by

Caryl Churchill

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Top Girls can help.
The protagonist of the play, Marlene is a high-ranking official at the Top Girls Employment Agency in London, and, at the start of the action, has just received an important promotion. To celebrate, she convenes a dinner party at a chic London restaurant—but rather than inviting friends, family, or coworkers, Marlene is surrounded only by women plucked from history and legend alike. As the play unfolds, Marlene is shown to be an adroit, smart, cunning, and sharp-tongued woman, and a powerful individual at Top Girls. However, for all her financial and corporate success, Marlene’s dark past constantly threatens to unseat her from all she has worked for. Marlene’s sister Joyce has, for the last sixteen years, been raising Marlene’s daughter, Angie, as her own. Now that Angie is coming into her own womanhood, she is full of rage, brimming with questions, and in dire need of guidance. Marlene’s sense of empathy has atrophied, and she has so long shirked her duties to her daughter, her sister, her family, and herself that she is unable to view the world around her in terms of anything other than potential for the kind of success she has come to see as essential. Marlene has been making her way in a man’s world, and has had to conform to the demands of the patriarchy and eliminate the traits seen as weak or burdensome in order to survive—as a result, Marlene has become financially successful, but morally, socially, and emotionally impoverished. Churchill uses Marlene as an indictment of Thatcherism and a cautionary tale as to the pitfalls of pursuing socioeconomic success to the exclusion of all of life’s other offerings.

Marlene Quotes in Top Girls

The Top Girls quotes below are all either spoken by Marlene or refer to Marlene. 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
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Bloomsbury edition of Top Girls published in 1982.
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:

JOAN: But I didn’t know what was happening. I thought I was getting fatter, but then I was eating more and sitting about, the life of a Pope is quite luxurious. I don’t think I’d spoken to a woman since I was twelve. [My lover] the chamberlain was the one who realized.

MARLENE: And by then it was too late.

JOAN: Oh I didn’t want to pay attention. It was easier to do nothing. […] I never knew what month it was. […] I wasn’t used to having a woman’s body.

JOAN: I didn’t know of course that it was near the time. It was Rogation Day, there was always a procession. I was on the horse dressed in my robes and a cross was carried in front of me, and all the cardinals were following, and all the clergy of Rome, and a huge crowd of people. […] I had felt a slight pain earlier, I thought it was something I’d eaten, and then it came back, and came back more often. I thought when this is over I’ll go to bed. There were still long gaps when I felt perfectly all right and I didn’t want to attract attention to myself and spoil the ceremony. Then I suddenly realized what it must be. I had to last out till I could get home and hide. Then something changed, my breath started to catch, I couldn’t plan things properly any more. […] I just had to get off the horse and sit down for a minute. […] And the baby just slid out on to the road.

Related Characters: Marlene (speaker), Pope Joan (speaker)
Page Number: 27-28
Explanation and Analysis:
Act One, Scene Three Quotes

ANGIE: I’m going to London. To see my aunt.

KIT: And what?

ANGIE: That’s it.

KIT: I see my aunt all the time.

ANGIE: I don’t see my aunt.

KIT: What’s so special?

ANGIE: It is special. She’s special.

KIT: Why?

ANGIE: She is.

KIT: Why?

ANGIE: She is.

KIT: Why?

ANGIE: My mother hates her.

KIT: Why?

ANGIE: Because she does.

KIT: Perhaps she’s not very nice.

ANGIE: She is nice.

KIT: How do you know?

ANGIE: Because I know her.

KIT: You said you never see her.

ANGIE: I saw her last year. You saw her.

KIT: Did I?

ANGIE: Never mind.

KIT: I remember her. That aunt. What’s so special?

ANGIE: She gets people jobs.

KIT: What’s so special?

ANGIE: I think I’m my aunt’s child. I think my mother’s really my aunt.

Related Characters: Angie (speaker), Kit (speaker), Marlene, Joyce
Page Number: 52
Explanation and Analysis:
Act Two, Scene One Quotes

NELL: Howard thinks because he’s a fella the job was his as of right. Our Marlene’s got far more balls than Howard and that’s that.

WIN: Poor little bugger.

NELL: He’ll live.

WIN: He’ll move on.

NELL: I wouldn’t mind a change of air myself.

WIN: Serious?

NELL: I’ve never been a staying-put lady. Pastures new.

WIN: So who’s the pirate?

NELL: There’s nothing definite.

WIN: Inquiries?

NELL: There’s always inquiries. I’d think I’d got bad breath if there stopped being inquiries. Most of them can’t afford me. Or you.

WIN: I’m all right for the time being. Unless I go to Australia.

NELL: There’s not a lot of room upward.

WIN: Marlene’s filled it up.

Related Characters: Nell (speaker), Win (speaker), Marlene, Howard Kidd
Related Symbols: Top Girls Employment Agency
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:

ANGIE: This is where you work is it?

MARLENE: It’s where I have been working the last two years but I’m going to move into another office.

ANGIE: It’s lovely.

MARLENE: My new office is nicer than this. There’s just the one big desk in it for me.

ANGIE: Can I see it?

MARLENE: Not now, no, there’s someone else in it now. But he’s leaving at the end of next week and I’m going to do his job.

ANGIE: This is where you work is it?

MARLENE: It’s where I have been working the last two years but I’m going to move into another office.

ANGIE: It’s lovely.

MARLENE: My new office is nicer than this. There’s just the one big desk in it for me.

ANGIE: Can I see it?

MARLENE: Not now, no, there’s someone else in it now. But he’s leaving at the end of next week and I’m going to do his job.

ANGIE: Is that good?

MARLENE: Yes, it’s very good.

ANGIE: Are you going to be in charge?

MARLENE: Yes I am.

ANGIE: I knew you would be.

MARLENE: How did you know?

ANGIE: I knew you’d be in charge of everything.

MARLENE: Not quite everything.

ANGIE: You will be.

MARLENE: Well we’ll see.

Related Characters: Marlene (speaker)
Related Symbols: Top Girls Employment Agency
Page Number: 66-67
Explanation and Analysis:

MARLENE: Don’t you have to go home?

ANGIE: No.

MARLENE: Why not?

ANGIE: It’s all right.

MARLENE: Is it all right?

ANGIE: Yes, don’t worry about it.

MARLENE: Does Joyce know where you are?

ANGIE: Yes of course she does.

MARLENE: Well does she?

ANGIE: Don’t worry about it.

MARLENE: How long are you planning to stay with me then?

ANGIE: You know when you came to see us last year?

MARLENE: Yes, that was nice wasn’t it.

ANGIE: That was the best day of my whole life.

MARLENE: So how long are you planning to stay?

ANGIE: Don’t you want me?

MARLENE: Yes yes, I just wondered.

ANGIE: I won’t stay if you don’t want me.

MARLENE: No, of course you can stay.

ANGIE: I’ll sleep on the floor. I won’t be any bother.

MARLENE: Don’t get upset.

ANGIE: I’m not, I’m not. Don’t worry about it.

Related Characters: Marlene (speaker), Angie (speaker), Joyce
Related Symbols: Top Girls Employment Agency
Page Number: 67
Explanation and Analysis:

MRS. KIDD: Howard’s not in today.

MARLENE: Isn’t he?

MRS KIDD: He’s feeling poorly.

MARLENE: I didn’t know. I’m sorry to hear that.

MRS KIDD: The fact is he’s in a state of shock. About what’s happened.

MARLENE: What has happened?

MRS KIDD: You should know if anyone. I’m referring to you been appointed managing director instead of Howard. He hasn’t been at all well all weekend. He hasn’t slept for three nights. I haven’t slept.

MARLENE: I’m sorry to hear that, Mrs. Kidd. Has he thought of taking sleeping pills?

MRS KIDD: It’s very hard when someone has worked all these years.

MARLENE: Business life is full of little setbacks. I’m sure Howard knows that. He’ll bounce back in a day or two. We all bounce back.

MRS KIDD: If you could see him you’d know what I’m talking about. What’s it going to do to him working for a woman? I think if it was a man he’d get over it as something normal.

MARLENE: I think he’s going to have to get over it.

Related Characters: Marlene (speaker), Mrs. Kidd (speaker), Howard Kidd
Related Symbols: Top Girls Employment Agency
Page Number: 68-69
Explanation and Analysis:

MARLENE: Are you suggesting I give up the job to him then?

MRS KIDD: It had crossed my mind if you were unavailable for some reason, he would be the natural second choice I think, don’t you? I’m not asking.

MARLENE: Good.

MRS KIDD: You mustn’t tell him I came. He’s very proud.

MARLENE: If she doesn’t like what’s happening here he can go and work somewhere else.

MRS KIDD: Is that a threat?

MARLENE: I’m sorry but I do have some work to do.

MRS KIDD: It’s not easy, a man of Howard’s age. You don’t care. I thought he was going too far but he’s right. You’re one of those ball breakers, that’s what you

MARLENE: I’m sorry but I do have some work to do.

MRS KIDD: are. You’ll end up miserable and lonely. You’re not natural.

Related Characters: Marlene (speaker), Mrs. Kidd (speaker), Howard Kidd
Related Symbols: Top Girls Employment Agency
Page Number: 70
Explanation and Analysis:

MARLENE: Is she asleep?

WIN: She wants to work here.

MARLENE: Packer in Tesco more like.

WIN: She’s a nice kid. Isn’t she?

MARLENE: She’s a bit thick. She’s a bit funny.

WIN: She thinks you’re wonderful.

MARLENE: She’s not going to make it.

Related Characters: Marlene (speaker), Win (speaker), Angie
Related Symbols: Top Girls Employment Agency
Page Number: 77
Explanation and Analysis:
Act Two, Scene Two Quotes

JOYCE: [Kit’s] a little girl Angie sometimes plays with because she’s the only child lives really close. She’s like a little sister to her really. Angie’s good with little children.

MARLENE: Do you want to work with children, Angie? Be a teacher or nursery nurse?

JOYCE: I don’t think she’s ever thought of it.

MARLENE: What do you want to do?

JOYCE: She hasn’t got an idea in her head what she wants to do. Lucky to get anything.

JOYCE: True enough.

Related Characters: Marlene (speaker), Joyce (speaker), Angie, Kit
Page Number: 82-83
Explanation and Analysis:

JOYCE: You couldn’t get out of here fast enough.

MARLENE: Of course I couldn’t get out of here fast enough. What was I going to do? Marry a dairyman who’d come home pissed? Don’t you fucking this

JOYCE: Christ.

MARLENE: fucking that fucking bitch fucking tell me what to fucking do fucking.

JOYCE: I don’t know how you could leave your own child.

MARLENE: You were quick enough to take her.

JOYCE: What does that mean?

MARLENE: You were quick enough to take her?

JOYCE: Or what? Have her put in a home? Have some stranger take her would you rather?

MARLENE: You couldn’t have one so you took mine.

Related Characters: Marlene (speaker), Joyce (speaker), Angie
Page Number: 89-90
Explanation and Analysis:

JOYCE: Listen when Angie was six months I did get pregnant and I lost it because I was so tired looking after your fucking baby because she cried so

MARLENE: You never told me.

JOYCE much—yes I did tell you—and the doctor

MARLENE: Well I forgot.

JOYCE: said if I’d sat down all day with my feet up I’d’ve kept it and that’s the only chance I ever had because after that—

MARLENE: I’ve had two abortions, are you interested? Shall I tell you about them? Well I won’t, it’s boring, it wasn’t a problem. I don’t like messy talk about blood and what a bad time we all had. I

JOYCE: If I hadn’t had your baby. The doctor said.

MARLENE: don’t want a baby. I don’t want to talk about gynaecology.

Related Characters: Marlene (speaker), Joyce (speaker), Angie
Page Number: 92
Explanation and Analysis:

JOYCE: You can always find yourself work then?

MARLENE: That’s right.

JOYCE: And men?

MARLENE: Oh there’s always men.

JOYCE: No-one special?

MARENE: There’s fellas who like to be seen with a high-flying lady. Shows they’ve got something really good in their pants. But they can’t take the day to day. They’re waiting for me to turn into the little woman.

Related Characters: Marlene (speaker), Joyce (speaker)
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:

MARLENE. I think the eighties are going to be stupendous.

JOYCE: Who for?

MARLENE: For me. I think I’m going up up up.

JOYCE: Oh for you. Yes, I’m sure they will.

MARLENE: And for the country, come to that. Get the economy back on its feet and whoosh. She’s a tough lady, Maggie. I’d give her a job. She just needs to hang

JOYCE: You voted for them, did you?

MARLENE: in there. This country needs to stop whining. Monetarism is not

JOYCE: Drink your tea and shut up, pet.

MARLENE: stupid. It takes time, determination. No more slop. And

JOYCE: Well I think they’re filthy bastards.

MARLENE: who’s got to drive it on? First woman prime minister. Terrifico. Aces. Right on. You must admit. Certainly gets my vote.

JOYCE: What good’s first woman if it’s her? I suppose you’d have liked Hitler if he was a woman. […] Great adventures.

MARLENE: Bosses still walking on the worker’s faces? Still dada’s little parrot? Haven’t you learned to think for yourself? I believe in the individual. Look at me.

JOYCE: I am looking at you.

Related Characters: Marlene (speaker), Joyce (speaker)
Page Number: 94-95
Explanation and Analysis:

MARLENE: I hate the working class which is what

JOYCE: Yes you do.

MARLENE: you’re going to go on about now, it doesn’t exist any more, it means lazy and stupid. I don’t

JOYCE: Come on, now we’re getting it.

MARLENE: like the way they talk. I don’t like beer guts and football vomit and saucy tits and brothers and sisters—

JOYCE: I spit when I see a Rolls Royce, scratch it with my ring Mercedes it was.

MARLENE: Oh very mature—

JOYCE: I hate the cows I work for and their dirty dishes with blanquette of fucking veau.

MARLENE: and I will not be pulled down to their level by a flying picket and I won’t be sent to Siberia or a loony bin just because I’m original. And I support

JOYCE: No, you’ll be on a yacht, you’ll be head of Coca Cola and you wait, the eighties is going to be stupendous all right because we’ll get you lot off our backs—

MARLENE: Reagan even if he is a lousy movie star because the reds are swarming up his map and I want to be free in a free world—

JOYCE: What? What?

MARLENE: I know what I mean by that—not shut up here.

JOYCE: So don’t be round here when it happens because if someone’s kicking you I’ll just laugh.

(silence)

MARLENE: I don’t mean anything personal. I don’t believe in class. Anyone can do anything if they’ve got what it takes.

JOYCE: And if they haven’t?

MARLENE: If they’re stupid or lazy or frightened, I’m not going to help them get a job, why should I?

JOYCE: What about Angie?

MARLENE: What about Angie?

JOYCE: She’s stupid, lazy and frightened, so what about her?

MARLENE: You run her down too much. She’ll be all right.

JOYCE: I don’t expect so, no. I expect her children will say what a wasted life she had. If she has children. Because nothing’s changed and it won’t with them in.

Related Characters: Marlene (speaker), Joyce (speaker), Angie
Page Number: 96-97
Explanation and Analysis:

ANGIE: Mum?

MARLENE: Angie? What’s the matter?

ANGIE: Mum?

MARLENE: No, she’s gone to bed. It’s Aunty Marlene.

ANGIE: Frightening.

MARLENE: Did you have a bad dream? What happened in it? Well you’re awake now, aren’t you, pet?

ANGIE: Frightening.

Related Characters: Marlene (speaker), Angie (speaker), Joyce
Page Number: 98
Explanation and Analysis:
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Top Girls PDF

Marlene Character Timeline in Top Girls

The timeline below shows where the character Marlene appears in Top Girls. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act One, Scene One
Women’s Stories Theme Icon
Power, Success, and Individualism Theme Icon
In a restaurant in London on a Saturday night, Marlene sits alone at a table set for six. She orders a bottle of wine from... (full context)
Life Under the Patriarchy Theme Icon
Women’s Stories Theme Icon
Power, Success, and Individualism Theme Icon
Marlene’s second guest, Lady Nijo, arrives at the party. Lady Nijo was a thirteenth-century concubine who... (full context)
Life Under the Patriarchy Theme Icon
Women’s Stories Theme Icon
As Nijo tells her story, Marlene and Isabella interject with their own opinions. Isabella recalls once meeting the Emperor of Morocco,... (full context)
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 they already know one another.... (full context)
Women’s Stories Theme Icon
...had any horses. Gret replies with one word only: “Pig.” Pope Joan arrives at the party—Marlene is grateful that their group can at last order some food. Marlene asks Joan if... (full context)
Women’s Stories Theme Icon
...begin discussing religion; Isabella identifies herself as a member of the Church of England, and Marlene states that though she hasn’t been to church for years, she enjoys Christmas carols. She... (full context)
Women’s Stories Theme Icon
The food arrives, and Marlene seems to hope the conversation will turn away from religion, but Nijo presses on. She... (full context)
Life Under the Patriarchy Theme Icon
Women’s Stories Theme Icon
...Nijo commiserates, saying she felt the same way when she began dressing as a nun. Marlene is surprised to hear Isabella and Nijo admit to such feelings, as she thought travelling... (full context)
Life Under the Patriarchy Theme Icon
Women’s Stories Theme Icon
Power, Success, and Individualism Theme Icon
...Middle Ages. Isabella states that in all her travels she never dressed as a man. Marlene says that she never wears trousers in the office—she could, but she chooses not to.... (full context)
Life Under the Patriarchy Theme Icon
Women’s Stories Theme Icon
...priest, and shared his beliefs about the afterlife and reincarnation with her. Joan, meanwhile, tells Marlene about her friend, with whom she’d passionately debated scripture and theology. After her friend died,... (full context)
Women’s Stories Theme Icon
Power, Success, and Individualism Theme Icon
...as a teacher, she became famous, and huge crowds gathered to hear her speak. As Marlene listens to Joan’s story, she remarks that “success is very…” but trails off as Joan,... (full context)
Life Under the Patriarchy Theme Icon
Women’s Stories Theme Icon
Power, Success, and Individualism Theme Icon
Marlene orders more wine from the waitress; though Griselda still isn’t present, she says that she... (full context)
Life Under the Patriarchy Theme Icon
Women’s Stories Theme Icon
Power, Success, and Individualism Theme Icon
...papacy, God did not speak to her: “he knew I was a woman,” she says. Marlene is amazed that no one else suspected Joan to be a woman. Joan reveals that... (full context)
Life Under the Patriarchy Theme Icon
Women’s Stories Theme Icon
Power, Success, and Individualism Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
...tell them what happened to her baby; she says that she herself had “some babies.” Marlene asks Joan if she thought of getting rid of the child; Joan points out that... (full context)
Life Under the Patriarchy Theme Icon
Women’s Stories Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
...after they 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... (full context)
Life Under the Patriarchy Theme Icon
Women’s Stories Theme Icon
Power, Success, and Individualism Theme Icon
Marlene asks aloud why she and her guests are “all so miserable.” Isabella talks about her... (full context)
Life Under the Patriarchy Theme Icon
Women’s Stories Theme Icon
Marlene notices Griselda and greets her—Griselda apologizes for her lateness. Though the women have all finished... (full context)
Life Under the Patriarchy Theme Icon
Women’s Stories Theme Icon
Marlene tells everyone that Griselda’s life is “like a fairy story,” except her marriage to a... (full context)
Life Under the Patriarchy Theme Icon
Women’s Stories Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
Griselda agreed, and the Marquis’s ladies-in-waiting dressed her in white silk and adorned her hair. Marlene interjects to remark how “normal” the Marquis seemed at first. Griselda laments that Marlene is... (full context)
Life Under the Patriarchy Theme Icon
Women’s Stories Theme Icon
Power, Success, and Individualism Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
...to kill the child, she allowed him to take it—after all, she had promised obedience. Marlene, unable to stand Griselda’s story, gets up to go to the bathroom. The waitress brings... (full context)
Life Under the Patriarchy Theme Icon
Women’s Stories Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
...her that the girl and the page were none other than her son and daughter. Marlene says that the Marquis was a “monster.” Joan, incredulous, asks if Griselda forgave the Marquis—she... (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 Joan, who is still chanting in Latin, to be quiet so they all can... (full context)
Act One, Scene Two
Life Under the Patriarchy Theme Icon
Women’s Stories Theme Icon
Power, Success, and Individualism Theme Icon
It is Monday morning at the Top Girls Employment Agency. Marlene is meeting with a woman named Jeanine. She asks her about her education and her... (full context)
Life Under the Patriarchy Theme Icon
Women’s Stories Theme Icon
Power, Success, and Individualism Theme Icon
Marlene asks Jeanine how much she is making, and when Jeanine answers her, Marlene remarks that... (full context)
Life Under the Patriarchy Theme Icon
Women’s Stories Theme Icon
Power, Success, and Individualism Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
Marlene tells Jeanine she might have something for her in the marketing department of a knitwear... (full context)
Life Under the Patriarchy Theme Icon
Women’s Stories Theme Icon
Power, Success, and Individualism Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
Jeanine mentions she’d like a job with a travel component. Marlene asks if Jeanine’s fiancé wants to travel; Jeanine answers that she wants to work primarily... (full context)
Life Under the Patriarchy Theme Icon
Women’s Stories Theme Icon
Power, Success, and Individualism Theme Icon
Marlene tells Jeanine she’s sending her to the lampshade company and the knitwear company, and in... (full context)
Act One, Scene Three
Life Under the Patriarchy Theme Icon
Women’s Stories Theme Icon
In Marlene’s sister Joyce’s backyard, two girls—Angie, who is sixteen, and Kit, who is twelve—play in a... (full context)
Women’s Stories Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
...special and nice, though Joyce hates her. When Kit asks repetitively what’s so special about Marlene, Angie answers that she thinks her aunt is actually her biological mother. (full context)
Act Two, Scene One
Life Under the Patriarchy Theme Icon
Women’s Stories Theme Icon
Power, Success, and Individualism Theme Icon
...her lover’s rose garden while his was wife away visiting her mother. Nell remarks that Marlene is late, and suggests she’s been celebrating all weekend. They also observe that one of... (full context)
Life Under the Patriarchy Theme Icon
Women’s Stories Theme Icon
Power, Success, and Individualism Theme Icon
Marlene walks in and greets Win and Nell. They cheer, whistle, and whoop, welcoming her. They... (full context)
Life Under the Patriarchy Theme Icon
Women’s Stories Theme Icon
Win tells Marlene that she spent the weekend at her lover’s house; she says she had to lie... (full context)
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Power, Success, and Individualism Theme Icon
Nell tells Marlene that soon Marlene will be upstairs, watching over the rest of them. Marlene asks if... (full context)
Power, Success, and Individualism Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
In the main office, Angie arrives to visit Marlene. Marlene is surprised to see Angie, and asks how she got past the receptionist; Angie... (full context)
Power, Success, and Individualism Theme Icon
Marlene tells Angie that she has, unfortunately, picked a day when Marlene is quite busy. She... (full context)
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Power, Success, and Individualism Theme Icon
Angie admires Marlene’s “lovely” office, but Marlene brags that she’ll soon be moving to a new office even... (full context)
Motherhood Theme Icon
Angie asks if she can see the office next week—Marlene asks Angie if she has to go back home, but Angie says she doesn’t. Marlene... (full context)
Women’s Stories Theme Icon
Power, Success, and Individualism Theme Icon
A woman lets herself into Marlene’s office. She apologizes for showing up unannounced, but insists she has to talk to Marlene... (full context)
Life Under the Patriarchy Theme Icon
Women’s Stories Theme Icon
Power, Success, and Individualism Theme Icon
Mrs. Kidd tells Marlene that Howard has stayed home today—he is in “a state of shock about what’s happened.”... (full context)
Life Under the Patriarchy Theme Icon
Power, Success, and Individualism Theme Icon
Marlene says she’s sorry Howard’s been taking out his disappointment out on his wife—Howard “really is... (full context)
Motherhood Theme Icon
Angie tells Marlene that how she handled Mrs. Kidd was “wonderful.” Marlene, exhausted, tells Angie that she has... (full context)
Life Under the Patriarchy Theme Icon
Power, Success, and Individualism Theme Icon
...Angie has fallen asleep. Nell asks who Angie is, and Win tells her she is Marlene’s niece. Nell comments that Marlene never talks about her family, and then asks Win if... (full context)
Act Two, Scene Two
Power, Success, and Individualism Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
The action flashes back to one year earlier; Marlene, Joyce, and Angie are in Joyce’s kitchen. Marlene is pulling numerous presents out of a... (full context)
Power, Success, and Individualism Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
As soon as Angie is out of the room, Joyce chides Marlene for dropping in unannounced, but Marlene is surprised to hear that Joyce didn’t know she... (full context)
Power, Success, and Individualism Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
Marlene offers to leave, but Joyce teases that she doesn’t mind seeing Marlene now that she’s... (full context)
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Angie comes back in wearing the dress, and Marlene compliments her on how pretty she looks. Joyce tells her to take it off so... (full context)
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...she lives there,” inserting herself right into the action. Joyce introduces Kit to “Angie’s Aunt Marlene.” Kit seems uninterested in Marlene’s presence, and instead asks Angie if she’s going to come... (full context)
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Marlene pulls a bottle of whiskey out of her bag, and though Joyce protests at first,... (full context)
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Marlene asks Joyce to catch her up on all the neighborhood gossip—Angie is confused as the... (full context)
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While Angie is out of the room, Joyce states that she doesn’t know any of Marlene’s business—so it’s only fair that Marlene doesn’t know any of hers. Angie returns with the... (full context)
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Joyce and Marlene talk idly about the weather and the neighborhood, and Joyce is a bit short with... (full context)
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Joyce asks Marlene what the secret was; Marlene replies that it’s a secret. Joyce says she knows Angie... (full context)
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Marlene tells Joyce that she arrived in the country this morning, and spent the day visiting... (full context)
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Marlene suggests that Joyce would feel better about things if she didn’t go to visit their... (full context)
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The two women argue back and forth about marriage and child-rearing; Marlene keeps insisting that she essentially did Joyce a favor by allowing Joyce to take Angie... (full context)
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...out from looking after the infant Angie, who cried nonstop. In response to this story, Marlene angrily retorts that she herself has had two abortions, but doesn’t want to tell Joyce... (full context)
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Marlene confesses that she was afraid of fighting with Joyce when she made plans to visit,... (full context)
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Marlene asks Joyce what happened with her husband—Joyce reveals he was cheating on her incessantly, and... (full context)
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Marlene predicts that despite her lack of romantic success, the eighties are going to be “stupendous”—she... (full context)
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Marlene urges Joyce to stop quarreling with her over politics. Joyce, though, doesn’t want for Marlene... (full context)
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Marlene asks if Joyce is going to accuse her of hating the working class, and then... (full context)
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Joyce asks what Marlene would do about Angie, then, who is “stupid, lazy, and frightened.” Marlene assures Joyce that... (full context)
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Marlene asks Joyce if they can stop fighting—she says she “didn’t really mean” any of what... (full context)
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Marlene wraps herself in a blanket, sits on the couch, and has another drink. After a... (full context)