Vinegar Tom: More Than Just a History Play

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Vinegar Tom: More Than Just a History Play Oppression takes many forms in society; Capitalism over the working class, patriarchal communities over the women in them and in some cases even women over women. Caryl Churchill has explored such issues in her works mainly pertaining to the position of women in male-dominated societies. In fact, her works utilize various plot structures to harness support for the improvement of the position of women in society while some attempt to illustrate women’s struggle against oppressive patriarchal agents. One of the plays in which Churchill focuses on women’s oppression is Vinegar Tom. The main character is Alice, a single mother in her twenties who lives in a small village. Alice and her mother Joan…show more content…
but that was my baby girl, and the next day she was sick... and dies” (Churchill 48). She blames Ellen and Alice for making her consume Ellen’s herbal potion and condemns them of witchery, which also results in their death. Nevertheless, in her final talk with Alice, she expresses, “if we’re hanged, we’re saved...I was a witch and never knew it. I killed my babies. I never mean it... I repent...” (Churchill 58). She, thus, accepts her own and her fellow-sufferers’ guilt and expresses regret for carrying out the abortion. In this regard, Churchill shows how women can remain unconscious of their oppression and can victimize themselves and others. Caryl Churchill has used historical events in multiple plays; take for instance her work Mad Forest, written in 1990 just after the Romanian revolution. Churchill’s group went to Bucharest merely three months after the revolution (March 31–April 7, 1990); the result was the play that gives a singularly inconclusive account of the Romanian happenings of December 1989, namely, the overthrow and execution of the communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife (Bahun-Radunovi 455). Churchill approaches the historical event from the perspective of ordinary Romanians whose lives and dreams are shaped by history. The pronounced absence of any direct depiction of “recorded” political events, events that nonetheless dominate the everyday life depicted in these vignettes, emphasizes the opposition between the “recorded,” “official”

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