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How does Russell make the audience sympathise with Shirley ? Essay

In this essay I will be exploring how Willy Russell, an author of the play “Shirley Valentine”, makes us sympathise with his main character. Willy Russell was a hairdresser, who lived in Liverpool. He felt unfulfilled in his life and wanted to become a writer. In his work, he met a lot of women, who shared their stories with him. That made him feel he understood many of them. But he was bored with his profession.

Russell’s life experience is similar to Shirley’s. Just like himself, Shirley is lonely and unfulfilled in her life. She dreamed of going to Greece and sitting alone on the beach. Russell equally dreamed of something unattainable. They both are bored and disappointed with their everyday routine.

Shirley, a middle aged woman, is disappointed because her husband treats her as a housewife and she does not have a life outside of the house. No one pays any attention to her and she feels underappreciated. Everyday life looks exactly the same.

Russell uses a number of techniques to make us sympathise with Shirley. These include providing a social context for the play, flashbacks, language devices such as humour, dramatic monologues and voice-overs.

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The play is about a middle aged woman called Shirley Valentine. She is married to a man called Joe. When they newly was married they loved each other so very much, but after a few years her life became a routine of washing plates, dishes, cleaning and making food for her husband. In other words she became a housewife. Because she had nobody to talk, she is a Kitchen sink drama, it is about things around the house. Russel also used characters, dramatic devices and creative language to sympathise the audience with Shirley Valentine.

In the opening scene we see first the film title track starts under a blue and white drawing of Shirley Valentine ironing. I think Willy chose the colour blue, because the colour blue suggest sadness and depression. Shirley’s life in the play is represent as sadness and depression. After that we see fifteen drawings of Shirley doing domestic works are never ending. None of the drawings show her having fun. Russel did this to show that her life is around her house. Then we see a drawing of a street of small semi-detached houses with small front gardens. This show where she lives. She turns in one of the houses and opens the front door. She closed the kitchen door and leans against it “Sighing” . This show she is fed up with her life maybe she is frustrated. “She talks to the wall” that shows she is lonely. She have nobody to talk with and it suggest she might going to be crazy.

Russel uses the characters of Joe to make us sympathise with Shirley Valentine. He is Shirley Valentine’s husband. We sympathise with Shirley as Joe doesn’t show any love affections towards her. We can tell Shirley was happily married at the start, because she had fun with Joe. They was just newly married. “The are happily painting the kitchen”. This shows us that she was happy with her life. Joe was Romantic used to make her laugh. He told her that he love’s her, “I love you Shirley Valentine”.

But now he is extremely changed. He is aggressive. This shows where he said he doesn’t care what Shirley is doing. That’s why Shirley take a decision to go too Greece. There she meet Costas. Costas is the opposite of Joe. He is Romantic and he listening to her, he made her feel warm and tells her how beautifull she is. “They are lovely because they are part of you and you are lovely. Joe never told her how beautifull she is Costas make her feel pretty and young.

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