Shirley Valentine

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How does the character change during the course of the play?

In this essay I will be explaining how Shirley Valentine changes throughout the play. The play Shirley Valentine was written by Willy Russell born 23rd August 1947 in the 1980s. Willey Russell left school when he was 15 years old and had very little qualifications. He started working as a woman’s hairdresser and did this job for 6 years. After this Willy Russell managed his own shop in Kirkby and started writing in his spare time. When he turned 20 he had decided to become a play writer.

The first time that we see Shirley valentine is when she is coming back home from household shopping. She is going to make dinner for her husband Joe; this is an everyday thing for Shirley as she is a typical housewife. As Shirley is making the dinner we see that she turns to face the wall and starts to talk it, when we as the audience see this we think that Shirley might be a bit crazy but we also feel a bit sorry for her because we can assume that she has very little or no friends so she has no social life. We know that Shirley’s social life stopped after she got married to Joe. There are two flashbacks which proves this, one of them were when Gillian her neighbour came over to her house to ask if she would look after the dog when her and her husband went on holiday. Gillian assumed straight away that Shirley would be free and would have no prior plans. Another one of these flashbacks are when Shirley remembers a night out with a few friends. They are talking about the clitoris kids and how when Shirley asked her husband if he knew what the clitoris was and he thought it was a car. From this we can imply that their sex life isn’t very good and Joe is not that educated when it comes to woman. Shirley says “Ah they were great, those mates. I don’t see them anymore. Ah well, that’s the way it goes. And now Millandra’s gone – and our Brian’s left home as well.” From this we can see that Shirley is very lonely and that her two kids have already left home and she does not have that many friends that come over. There is also a flashback which shows how Shirley and Joes relationship has changed over the years, in this flashback we see Shirley and Joe painting the room in there house just after they moved in and Joe tells Shirley that he loves her and they have a bath together. Shirley now thinks that he does not love her because he never tells her that he does. Shirley tells us about her dream that she one day wants to do. “…Do you know what I would like to do, Wall? I’d like a glass of wine in a country where the grape is grown. Sittin’ by the sea just sippin’ wine and watchin’ the sun go down.” From this we can see that Shirley does not dream big. Throughout the play we see a lot of different flashback of Shirley’s past, one of these flashbacks is when Shirley was at high school. In assembly the headmistress asked a question of what mans greatest invention was. Shirley knew the answer to the question but her headmistress does not let her answer, when all the students gets the answer wrong including Marjorie Majors (a clever girl who takes elocution lessons) she gives Shirley the chance to answer and Shirley gets it right. The headmistress thinks that Shirley cheated because she doesn’t believe that she could answer correctly. Shirley gets embarrassed and says that from then on she will become a rebel which is exactly what she does and we can see this from a flashback where Shirley is smoking a cigarette and is wearing a short skirt. On another school day the class is receiving the test results from a geography test, the marks that Shirley gets are very rubbish and we can assume that she left school with very few qualifications and met Joe soon after and got married. Shirley has another flashback where she meets up with her friend Jane. Jane tells Shirley that she has won 2 tickets to Greece and she is taking Shirley with her. Shirley however says no because she thinks that Joe...
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