Brecht’s Gestus within a Churchillian Context: Top Girls’s ‘Gestic’ Characters

Safa Badreddine


Predominant cultural customs can work as means of oppression for women due to their patriarchal orientations. Yet, these codes are even more dangerous when they are internalized and normalized by women themselves. In this case, women become the embodiment of their victimizer’s ideology, henceforth, they are unable to correct their submissive situation or achieve social equality. As a suggestion, Top Girls brings to the fore all these complex issues through the exploitation of Brecht’s dramatic pattern Gestus. This technique focuses on the manner the presented characters in the play are extremely affected by their prevailing social assumptions. These domineering assumptions exert certain powers upon women’s identities and mindsets. They tear down a female’s own character and substitute it with another already-made identity. Gestus tries to project to what extent cultural values may blind women and be the real cause behind so many misogynous acts in society. This paper is, then, an attempt to scrutinize the way Churchill adopts and adapts Gestus (through dresses and cross-dressing) to tackle her feminist themes in a fresh dramatic fashion.


Caryl Churchill, Top Girls, Gestus, Culture, Predominant Ideologies, Patriarchal codes, Dresses and Clothes, Cross-dressing

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