The Political Agenda Of Cloud Nine English Literature Essay

Cloud Nine – A Political Agenda


Caryl Churchill ‘s Cloud Nine, which means “ in a province of blissful felicity, ” was written during the tallness of conservative regulation and the leading of Margaret Thatcher. The drama, hence, is chiefly concerned with researching impressions of British self-identity during the post-colonial epoch, particularly in relation to gender and sexual individuality. It does so by concentrating on two specific clip periods: the Victorian age ( Act 1 ) , which is well-known for its restrictive and suppressive universe position, and the modern-day epoch in which the drama was written – 1979 London ( Act 2 ) T which as a “ clip of sexual revolution and adult females ‘s release ” ( Madore, 2006 ) .

Churchill employs a two-act theoretical account as a agency of demoing the manner in which many British people were trying to interrupt away from old stereotypes and to make new individualities, as do most of the characters in his drama ( Madore, 2006 ) , while besides demoing how Victorian traditions and values continued to act upon British society and civilization. The dramatist, for illustration, uses lewdness and gender as a agency of set uping a analogue between colonialism and sexual subjugation, while besides reviewing Thatcher and her authorities. As a consequence, the audience is finally presented with “ the positions of the “ left ” in Britain during a period of conservative regulation… ” ( Madore, 2006 ) . This paper, hence, will research the political docket in Cloud Nine by concentrating on women’s rightist and gender theories and how these are linked to colonialism, later reasoning that the nature of the drama ‘s political docket is significantly rooted in thoughts that had emerged during the Sexual Revolution. As such, Churchill aimed to show the manner in which she believed British society to be still locked within its Victorian yesteryear.

Contemplations of British Identity

Although gender theory is a important factor in Cloud Nine, Churchill ‘s attack is non one that is purely feminist. Alternatively, the dramatist portrays the manner in which all people can be sexually repressed through utilizing two contrasting inhibitory periods within British history. The first Act, for illustration, takes topographic point in Africa at the tallness of British colonialism, therefore puting it in the Victorian epoch – a clip during which colonialists perceived themselves as holding a duty to educate local civilizations, while Act II takes topographic point in London in around 1979. As such, Act I acts as a background for Act II, a clip during which British colonialism was all but over, and yet assorted signifiers of its subjugation remained present within British society.

The terminal of the 1970s marked a alone and typical period of the sexual revolution in London, therefore clearly contrasting it with Victorian sexual political orientation, which was undeniably oppressive. By the late seventiess, homophiles, although still frowned upon in many social sectors, had established a house presence within Britain ‘s cultural landscape, while adult females had gained a figure of rights and new freedoms, therefore increasing their position. Divorce, for illustration, had become acceptable, and cohabitation was lifting. Churchill, hence, thrusts her Act I characters into this new political landscape in order to see how they react ( Madore, 2006 ) .

In Act I, the audience is introduced to British upper-middle category household who are populating in colonial Africa. Clive, the male parent, is characterized by Victorian ideals, including sexual repression and the impression of holding to educate the “ other ” in colonial parts such as Africa. His inability to alter and turn, nevertheless, means that he is left behind in Act II, while Betty, his married woman, displays her demand to develop through her adulterous matter with Henry. As such, Betty ‘s demand to redefine her individuality is shown through the manner in which she ends her unhappy matrimony, finally disassociating her hubby, and, as such, picturing her as a modern adult female. Her statement, “ But if there is n’t a right manner to make things you have to contrive one ” ( Churchill, 1989, Act I ) , indicates her new apprehension of her ain power and topographic point in the universe, while besides demoing her disassociation with tradition. Clive, on the other manus, is unable to interrupt away from his patriarchal universe position, therefore doing him incapable of contriving new things.

Betty spoke these words to Gerry, the character who symbolizes sexual freedom. William ( 2000 ) , for illustration, highlights the manner in which Gerry does as he please with whom he pleases, therefore placing his attitude as 1 that clearly dismisses Victorian ideals and values. Betty, nevertheless, is non yet rather as free – as seen by the manner she “ invents ” onanism as a agency of fulfilling her sexual needs instead than instantly establishing into an adulterous matter. This, hence, suggests that Betty has non entirely dismissed the traditions of the past, but that she has accepted that times change and that people need to alter in conformity with such differences. In fact, London in 1979 is so far removed from colonial Africa that “ many ways to make things must be invented ” ( Bermal, 1997, p.174 ) .

As antecedently discussed, the patriarchal nature of colonial Britain is clearly showed through the character of Clive, who tells his boy ;

“ You should ever esteem and love me, Edward, non for myself, I may non merit it, but as I respected and loved my ain male parent, because he was my male parent. Through our male parent we love out Queen and our God ” ( Churchill, 1989, Act 1 ) .

Victorian universe positions, as demonstrated by this quotation mark, were constructed on sensed responsibility, duty, and social outlooks. The quotation mark, which is taken from Act 1, scene 3, portrays the manner in which Clive merely mindlessly accepts British history and tradition. He believes, for illustration, that Edward has a responsibility to love him because of him being his male parent, and, as such, fails to take into consideration his ain personal behavior. Alternatively, Clive associates household loyal with patriotism and Britain ‘s province faith, Christianity, therefore proposing a analogue between colonialism and sexual subjugation ( Madore, 2006 ) .

In the class of Act I, Churchill engages the audience with colonial history by disputing gender and gender impressions that were current during the late seventiess. This is achieved through deploying a cross-gender and cross-racial dramatis personae, therefore underselling perceived racial and gender stereotypes. In Act I, for illustration, Betty is played a adult male, a adult female plays Edwin, and Joshua is white-skinned. This technique is used by Churchill as a agency of showing the manner in which Betty does non value her muliebrity, but alternatively attempts to populate in conformity with male criterions, values, and outlooks. As such, Churchill demonstrates the manner in which impressions of muliebrity were chiefly male buildings of what they believed a adult female should be, therefore placing muliebrity as “ an imposed building of the [ given ] society ” ( Harding, 1998, p.254 ) . When Clive provinces, for illustration, “ We must defy this dark female lecherousness, Betty, or it will get down us up ” ( Churchill, 1989, Act 1 ) , he is repeating his antecedently stated fright of Africa “ get downing ” him up ( Ibid ) , therefore linking perceived female failing with the “ dark ” ‘ savageness of Africa. As such, Clive associates Betty ‘s “ dark ” lecherousness as being immorality, which suggests that it is beyond her control and something that merely be defeated through them working together. His perceptual experience of muliebrity, hence, is of female failing. He does non, for illustration, let Betty to do picks or determinations, but alternatively perceives his ain male strength ( his control ) as being her lone manner of get the better ofing her failing ( Harding, 1998 ) .

It has besides been argued that the usage of gender-bending enables the drama to accomplish “ one of the chief epic-theatre ends ; Verfremdungseffekt… [ which is ] the usage of techniques that remind the witness that the drama is a representation of world and non reality itself ” ( Madore, 2006 ) . This suggests that Churchill attempted to do homosexualism more alleviative to her audience by doing such relationships appear visibly normative and heterosexual, and that she used gender-bending as a agency of distancing the audience from the drama. In effect, she severed “ their ability to believe that the world of the drama is in fact their true individuality ” ( Ibid. ) . However, Jenkins ( 1996 ) argues that the manner in which the text is used as a “ tool of intercession ” supports the impression of the drama being written as a agency of enabling persons to detect their ain world. This is besides supported by the manner in which the “ world in which… . the drama is happening, is one in which the state is fighting to happen its ain individuality ( to resurface from the post-war image ) much like the characters in Act II are seeking to happen their sexual individuality ” ( Jenkins, 1996, p.47 ) .

Questions and issues environing individuality, hence, are “ carried in to the 2nd act of the drama where sexual relationships and individualities are pushed even further than in Act I with the debut of binges and “ out of the cupboard ” homosexual relationships in to the text ” ( Jenkins, 1996, p.51 ) . The audience, hence, are presented with non-stereotypic characters, therefore disputing common impressions of what it meant to be male, female, homosexual, and black. Using a white adult male to play Joshua the black retainer in Act I, for illustration, depicts the rupture in Joshua ‘s individuality, which has been caused by the internalizing of colonial values, while his being played by a black histrion in Act II suggests that he has established who he is in relation to his environing universe. Colonial subjugation and suppression, hence, are depicted in Act II in the signifier of neo/post colonialism. As such, “ the histrions… established a analogue between colonial and sexual subjugation, demoing how the British business of Africa in the 19th century and its post-colonial presence in Northern Island relate to the patriarchal values of [ British ] society ” ( Patterson, 2007, p.84 ) .

British life, particularly for the on the job category, became progressively hard during the period in which Cloud Nine was written. What came to be termed as “ Thatcherism, ” had started out with great promise, and so many persons and organisations did, at first, benefit from the debut of assorted authorities policies.[ 1 ]As such, many people were siting on “ cloud nine ” during the first old ages of Thatcher ‘s administration. Nevertheless, the denationalization of all major public industries finally worsened the wellbeing of the working categories, therefore chase awaying a cloud of day of reckoning across the state as the inauspicious effects of denationalization manifested themselves in decreasing labour productiveness, a decreased work force, and turning unemployment ( Jenkins, 1996, p.324 ) . The consequence was turning dissatisfaction with “ right wing ” political relations and turning support for the “ left, ” a factor that Churchill shows through Lin ‘s brother non caring about his state every bit much as he did about “ acquiring laid ” ( 1979, Act II ) . Churchill, hence, uses political discourse as a agency of showing the manner in which Britain is far from being on “ cloud nine, ” while besides demoing the manner in which so many people remained locked in Victorian traditions, therefore making a national individuality crisis.


As demonstrated in Cloud Nine, British individuality was really much in inquiry in the latter old ages of the 1970s and the early 1980s. The state that had one time “ ruled the universe ” had lost its place as the universe ‘s greatest world power, therefore intending that the British authorities was excessively focused on its ageless command to recast its international repute that it tended to overlook the public assistance of its citizens. Churchill, hence, sets out to research the patriarchal nature of Britain ‘s colonial epoch and the manner in which this continued to act upon the Draconian racial and gender disparities that continued to tag post-colonial Britain. For illustration, when Clive confronts Mrs. Saunders by saying, “ … it is positively your responsibility to seek my aid ; I would be hurt, I would be insulted by any show of independency ” ( Churchill, 1989, Act I ) , he portrays the manner in which adult females were powerless within colonial times, whereas Betty ‘s pick to disassociate portrays the manner in which adult females finally gained their sexual freedom. Nevertheless, Churchill besides uses political discourse, gender and feminist theories, and societal commentary, as a manner of portraying the manner in which twentieth century Britain remained caught up in Victorian traditions – a perceptual experience of the universe that had clearly become disused.