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  • Level: GCSE
  • Subject: English
  • Essay length: 3168 words

Shirley Valentine - How does Shirley change in the course of the play, and how is the play organised to show the importance of these changes?

Extracts from this essay...

Introduction

Shirley Valentine- Coursework How does Shirley change in the course of the play, and how is the play organised to show the importance of these changes? The talented Liverpool play writer Willy Russell wrote Shirley Valentine the popular contemporary play. Shirley Valentine was originally a dramatic solo monologue performed by Pauline Collins and uses many of the devices form the solo version. This essay analyses the changes in the life of the central female character. You see a frustrated, stereo typical, middle-aged woman who is emancipated from the kitchen sink and determined to achieve the childhood dreams she didn't fulfil in the early part of her life. In this voyage we see Shirley's life as she sees it and follow her story as she tells it. The author focuses on her past, present and future and in doing so, explores her relationship with other characters and the situations using devices such as flashback, which ultimately lead to her changes. Willy Russell's use of cinematic devices give the audience insight into Shirley's mind and her feelings. Other devices used are different types of comedy e.g. irony. Voice-overs are also types of devices Willy Russell uses where by characters talk over another scene or over lay it. Voice-overs and voice to camera are used since everything Shirley says is being reported. What she reports is the truth, but not the literal truth. The audience would feel sympathy for Shirley as of this fact. Before the film begins we are shown the opening credits, which present several simple pictures of Shirley doing domestic activities including: cooking, cleaning, gardening, shopping, making beds and ironing. This reinforces the audience to image her as a typical housewife. During these images a depressing and sad soundtrack, which creates a calm, lonely mood, overlies on the pictures. Some of the lyrics may suggest that Shirley has lost herself and speaks about losing your identity.

Middle

".... Get on with getting me tea". He doesn't like the fact Shirley talks to the wall. "Who the bloody hell are you talkin' to?" This proves he has no respect and he does not understand her anymore. This shows what has become of Shirley's marriage. A quote that reveals, "Marriage is like the Middle East. There's no solution.", gives the audience a better understanding of how she feels about the marriage at the present time. After the flashback when it goes back to the time, when Shirley and her mates were at the pub chatting and making jokes about, "the Clitoris", Shirley mentioned it to Joe but he didn't take any notice of it and said, "it doesn't go as well as the Ford Cortina". We learn from this that Joe is ignorant about sex and that Shirley has no idea on what to do to put things right. Here, although the marriage was beginning to lose spice at least she could laugh about it. The "chips an' egg", incident caused further declining of Shirley and Joe's marriage. This scene emphasises that it was Joe's fault that their marriage was breaking apart. It would not have been like this if for once Joe did something others wanted him to do. "I'm not eatin' this. I am not eatin' shite!" He never understood Shirley and in the end he had gone to far. In doing so he pushed her away. You get the impression that she sees it as a disaster zone, always arguing and fighting and no escape. Voiceovers and camera close ups play an important technique, to give the audience once again a visual and verbal impression of her feelings and mood. During the middle section of the screenplay there is scenes were Joe is dominating towards Shirley and is raising his voice to instruct her that she isn't going to Greece.

Conclusion

"I've fallen in love with the idea of living." Willy Russell uses the word 'living', which emphasise the point that she didn't feel as live as she does now. The rapid cutting between scenes shows us Shirley's busy lifestyle in Greece while we see a phone call with Joe. This is done so the audience can see the difference in lifestyles that can be led by her. Shirley Valentine is an example of Kitchen Sink Drama. It is a term applied in the late 1950s, which portrayed working class or lower, middle class life with an emphasis on domestic realism. Shirley Valentine leans upon the traditions of it but has been adapted for a modern audience in that Shirley does find some fulfilment at the end of the play. The reason why Shirley Valentine is a Kitchen Sink Drama is because she herself is a working class woman doing all the domestic jobs around the house. She is always in the kitchen or by the kitchen sink and this was shown to us straight away as Shirley was introduced to us in the kitchen. Another reason is that she has not yet fulfilled her dreams or ambitions and is trapped in realistic social situations meaning her marriage. Russell uses convections of K.S.D to highlight Shirley's character change. Other examples of K.S.D are "Look back at Anger" and "A Taste of Honey". The main changes, which took place in Shirley as a character was that, she adapted extremely well to her new lifestyle. Which reveals to us that she is adaptable to new situations. Meanwhile in Greece she captures her true identity by self-contentment and self-discovery "always Shirley Valentine" which gives her more confidence to acquires equality in her marriage. This essay analysed how Shirley changed during the screenplay and the way the dramatic devices were organised to reveal the important changes, which changed our views immediately to give us a better understanding of her character.

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