Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit / Top Girls Comparison

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  • Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit / Top Girls Comparison
    • Sexuality
      • Oranges: Jeanette explores sexuality in terms of homosexuality and within her relationships with Melanie and Katy
      • Top Girls: Win has an affair. Top Girls in office aren't afraid to talk openly about their sexuality.
    • Language and Style
      • Oranges: Winterson engaged in a parody of the Bible. Comically alludes to biblical events and phrases in order to undermine the authority of Jeanette's mother and the church.
        • 'a star came to settle over an orphanage, and in that place was a crib, and in that crib, a child. A child with too much hair'. Biblical echoes comically undercut by the banal fact that the child has too much hair.
        • Winterson use of different kinds of language or registers- wide and inclusive. Narrative shifts between biblical language, philosophical statements, fairy-tale phrases, gossip in the vernacular, nursery rhymes and elusively metaphorical passages, with metaphors sometimes becoming literalised in a magic realist way. This kind of plurality in language use has been called 'dialogic', with each mode of speaking being 'in dialogue' with others.
          • Language- control perception and understanding of the world, can determine our notion of reality, no one version of truth or reality - experiences have relative meaning.
      • Top Girls: Overlapping dialogue- most critics interpreted it as indication of the women's competitive and self absorbed nature, but close analysis shows their speech tends to support the other speakers story. Cooperative rather than competitive- closer to real life.
        • Naming: Marlene uses 'pet' as term of endearment to her colleagues and dinner guests, Joyce also calls Angie and Marlene 'pet'- echoes Isabella's reference to Hennie as 'my own pet' - reinforcing link between Marlene and Isabella.
          • Way Win and Nell talk about Sjona indicates how high their opinion is of her. Nell announces "I've a lady in here thinks she can sell" Win replies "Tough bird like us". "Bird" and "Lady" references they use amongst one another
    • Narrative Techniques
      • Oranges: Juxtaposition of narrative elements
        • Narrative is non linear- jumps about from topic to topic, with the narrative elements seemingly organised- like the process of thought, by association
          • Juxtaposition of certain elements significant in terms of influencing interpretation and foreshadowing events.
            • E.g Jeanette's recollection of the gypsy's prophecy is juxtaposed with her memory of being banned form the paper shop.
      • Top Girls: Dream like quality of Act 1
        • Order of the acts
    • Structure
      • Top Girls: ignores Aristotelian unities of time, space and action. Critics have remarked that it is essentially a series of one act plays.
        • Presents action in reverse chronological order- defies structure of naturalistic play in which action, consequence carefully plotted to allow audience to anticipate ending of the play and provide a moral homily.
      • Oranges: Genre- Blurs boundaries between realism and fantasy.
        • Realism and fantasy: Winterson intersperses realist narrative sections with timeless allegorical fantasy and fairytale elements. Fantasy and fairy tale sections mirror and comment on the realist narrative, but also open up an imaginary space were it is possible for Jeanette to express her desires and ambitions when the realist story threatens to stifle her.
        • Autobiographical fiction: Opening sentence parodies typical beginnings of autobiographical fiction and elements of story closely resemble life of Jeanette Winterson.
          • Bildungsroman: traces development of character through several rite of passage experiences. However implications of this narrative form (confirmation of status quo + conventional gender identities & sexuality) radically subverted by the model of lesbian girlhood and lesbian coming-out story Winterson creates.
            • Allusion- to not only the Bible and fairy tales but to other novels, drama, myths, poems, artists, poets etc. Alludes to figures who challenged the established literary and social order (Oscar Wilde, Charlotte Bronte, Christina Rossetti).
              • Humour-irony and cutting ridicule of knowing older narrator significant sources of humour.Undermines prejudice and authority of the church.
          • Parody: uses Biblical framework as a structuring device. Also parodying biblical stories thus comically reducing their authoritative tone. Also opens up ideas that the Bible is open to interpretation.
  • Themes
    • Feminism
      • Explored in both texts through attitudes to men and rejection of gender norms
    • Motherhood
      • Top Girls: complex area of the play- reflects changing attitudes to the role of women both in modern Britain and throughout history. Through for example Marlene's lack of maternal qualities.
      • Oranges: Jeanette's mothers controlling nature.
    • Marriage
      • Top Girls: not a state that any of the characters aspire to, even Griselda. For the historical characters marriage is a gamble a state that shifts from being possession of father to husband
    • Isolation
      • Oranges: Jeanette isolates herself to come to terms with her sexuality
      • Top Girls: Marlene isolates herself from her family to climb up the social ladder.

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