Ali Salami

Reading Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls Based On A Synthesis Of Heinz Kohut’s Theories On Narcissism And Fredrick Jameson’s Marxist Perspectives

Caryl Churchill, (born September 3, 1938, London, England), British playwright whose work frequently dealt with feminist issues, abuses of power, and sexual politics. Top Girls is one of her bestknown play.

When Churchill was 10 years old, she emigrated with her family to Canada. She attended Lady Margaret Hall, a women’s college of the University of Oxford, and remained in England after receiving a B.A. in 1960. Her three earliest plays, Downstairs (produced 1958), Having a Wonderful Time (produced 1960), and Easy Death (produced 1962), were performed by Oxford-based theatrical ensembles.

Top Girls

During the 1960s and ’70s, while raising a family, Churchill wrote radio dramas and then television plays for British television. Owners, a two-act 14-scene play about obsession with power, was her first major theatrical endeavour and was produced in London in 1972. During her tenure as resident dramatist at London’s Royal Court Theatre, Churchill wrote Objections to Sex and Violence (1974), which, though not well-reviewed, led to her successful association with David Hare and Max Stafford-Clark’s Joint Stock Company and with Monstrous Regiment, a feminist group.


Caryl Churchill’s whole female cast play, Top Girls, depicts the situation of New Woman in the Thatcherian new world enriched with opportunities despite being filled with the anxiety of impending crisis and war.

The play delves deep into female psychology and the anxieties rooted in the socio-political context. The article scrutinizes the play by applying a synthesized approach based on a synthesis of Heinz Kohut’s post-Freudian psychoanalysis theories that regard deficit as the primary elements impacting identity formation and Fredrick Jameson’s ideas considering the literary text as a symptom of their context.

Regarding the play’s publication year and the political issues subtly mentioned in the text, this study discusses how the deeply rooted political anxieties of 1980s England impacted women’s lives.

This article shows the consequences of living in an environment devoid of empathetic reaction towards the individuals’ needs and explores the roots of the deployment of narcissism as armor by women as a psychological defense mechanism.

By Ali Salami & Midia Mohammadi

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