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Shirley Valentine Contexualising the play

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Shirley valentine revolves primarily around the working class population in Liverpool in the early 80's. The family environment which is introduced in the first scene is consistent through out the play. We can lucidly see that Shirley is repressed by the social back ground she comes from, it is not vitally her husband, but the social beliefs that they are both surrounded by which mean that they are both entrapped in a routine which entirely removes all the pleasure that they are both able to gain from life. When we went to Liverpool we were able to relate the momentary social degree to how we would have expected it to be in the time in which Shirley Valentine was set. We found that it many people seemed to be conforming to a certain stereotype, and many seemed to be dressed in very much the same way. This emphasises the notion that the culture in which Shirley was found was the basis of her suppression. Shirley Valentine was written at the time when Margaret Thatcher was the Prime Minister, and though politics are not often related to the arts, it could be said that Shirley is a lower class alteration of Thatcher in the way that she has risen above the expectations and the roles of men and women, she has exited the 'Chips and Egg' producing kitchen of her working class home and as the bird on the top of the Liver Building in Liverpool, she escapes from the cage she is encaged in and flies away to her freedom, which in Shirley's case, is Greece. ...read more.


When we went to Liverpool to explore the atmosphere which our protagonist lived in, the receptionist of our hostel enlightened us that a group of men were also staying in the same building as us, but that these men however had entrusted their wedding rings to the reception safe during their stay, I'm sure that with the smallest amount of forced imagination we can assume that the purpose of this action is not entirely innocent. If Joe's mind worked in a similar way, whilst Shirley was eating 'olives', he was having several 'cherries' of his own. Looking at reviews on this play Shirley Valentine, it makes it perhaps easier to develop our own opinions of the production, not through influence alone, but also through contradiction. Milton Shulman from The Standard wrote 'I am very dubious about Russell's premise that feminine frustration is caused by educational, cultural or national limitations', in my opinion these limitations have great potential to cause not only females but everyone distress. For these limitations to not take affect on a person, that person must harbour a great deal of inner strength, confidence and mental power, however the issue is that a child brought up in a culturally limited environment is likely to not have been raised with sufficient love to be able to construct this confidence within themselves. For our confidence to grow, we require people in our lives that positively influence us, this again though not academic, is none the less in my opinion a form of education. ...read more.


Shirley opens up new windows to how women see themselves, and it could be seen as revolutionary for such modern ideas on the view of the roles of men and women to be written so early on. We still see in many parts of the world today that sexism is still current. Many women get paid less in jobs than men. Women continuously get hired for their apparel. Even in London, a city which is viewed to be amongst the most developed cities in the world, traditions have still been maintained, even in the new generation, that it is the man's position, especially in relationships to pay when going out. It is still in our culture that a man is there to be strong and to protect, and the population of housewives is still high. However, these traditions, unless if somehow men start giving birth, are likely to remain. When researched or analysed sufficiently, it can be seen that Shirley is in fact not a feminist. The line between being a feminist, and being on a search for equal rights, though often confused, is quite prevalent. Shirley is not a man hater, she is merely a woman lover, she believes that everyone has a right to happiness, unlike feminists who strongly dislike all men, similarly to Jane, and would use men only as sex objects to satisfy their own ego. Shirley, being a mother to a son, does not entirely have the capability of becoming a feminist. ...read more.

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