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Shirley Valentine

Categories: Willy Russell

The play Shirley Valentine was set in the 80’s. The main character is a woman named Shirley Valentine. She is a housewife that lives in Liverpool. She gets married; this marriage turns bad over the years. Shirley seeks a better life and goes to Greece. She has an affair and Joe comes over to speak to Shirley.

My scene is at the end of the play. It is set by the sea, outside Costas’s taverna. My extra scene is about Joe speaking to Shirley, explaining that he has changed.

Shirley says something that sparks Joe off. Joe gets in a rage, Shirley is angry and storms off. Joe is left crying on the table.

In my extra scenes, the themes from earlier in the play that I am focusing are, ‘marriage’, ‘the grass is greener syndrome’ and ‘the way in which men communicate’. These are relevant to my scene because the whole scene is about Shirley and Joe’s marriage.

The theme ‘marriage’ and ‘the way in which men communicate’ are demonstrated in the play when Shirley and Joe’s marriage starts off as a good marriage where they are both pleasant to each other and Joe is speaking in a admirable way. This is demonstrated in the play when Shirley has a flashback of her early marriage years, when she and Joe are decorating the house and they end up in the bath together. Joe says:

“I love you . . . Shirley Valentine.” (16)

This shows that Joe was kind and loving towards Shirley at the beginning of their marriage.

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This is what Joe is trying to do in my extra scene when he uses words from his early marriage. Joe says:

“You little bugger.” (133)&(15)

This shows that Joe is using his head to try to get Shirley to come back. He is using the good times of his marriage to remind Shirley, at first she gets taken in by Joe’s deceiving. Shirley says:

“Do you remember when you first called me that.” (133)

She says this while laughing, so Joe could be thinking that he has made a good move in mentioning that. He is mistaken because Shirley realises that Joe is just using this as a devious way of trying to get her back. Joe says:

“It could be like that again, couldn’t it.” Then Shirley says: (133)

“If only it could Joe, if only it could.” (133)

This shows that Shirley is letting Joe down by saying that life will never be the same as before.

Over the years of marriage Shirley and Joe’s relationship gets to a stage where Joe is the boss and he expects Shirley to do everything he says. This is shown in the scene where Joe wants his steak and chips but Shirley only gives him egg and chips. Joe says:

“Where’ my steak?” (38)

This shows that their relationship has changed over the years. I think that this is one of the turning points of the play because it makes Shirley realise that Joe is controlling her life. This is demonstrated in my scene when Joe is being nice to Shirley at the beginning of it, Joe says:

“But Shirley, I’ve changed as a man and as a husband. I’ve lasted two weeks without you and I’ve realised that I’ve been making you do to much.” (133)

This shows that Joe is trying to win Shirley over by telling her that he has realised his faults and he is willing to put them right again, but Shirley does not believe in him fully. Shirley says:

“It’s nice you have realised that Joe, but if I came back with you then I would be put back into the day to day routine that I was in before. If not straight away, then eventually I would.” (133)

This shows that Shirley knows Joe well enough to realise that she would be again forced into a routine with Joe setting all of the rules. When Joe finds out that Shirley is definitely not coming back, he goes mad and makes Shirley realise for sure that she doesn’t need Joe in her life. Joe says:

“You’ve been plannin’ it aven’t yeh.” (133)

This shows that Joe has no real respect for Shirley. He also shows this earlier in the play when he throws the egg on Shirley. The stage directions say:

‘With a violent shove, he pushes his plate along the length of the table. It hits SHIRLEY’S plate and both plates and their contents tip into SHIRLEY’S lap.’ (38)

This shows that I have picked out Joe’s personality and used it in my scene. The scene shows how Joe communicates with Shirley. In my scene Joe changes his tone of voice and way of communication. Joe says:

“Why the hell not” (133)

This shows that Joe is getting angry and communicating in a bad way towards Shirley. But a little later in my scene Joe has calmed down. Joe says:

“I know, but we can work it out can’t we” (133)

This shows that Joe has a changing personality where sometimes he is calm and a little later he is raging mad. This could also mean that Joe has realised that he won’t get Shirley back by disrespecting her. This change in communication is shown previously in the play when Joe wants his tea, first of all it starts of with Joe just asking what Shirley is doing. Joe says:

“Is it ready then?” (38)

This is just a normal way of speaking, but this changes in a minute, when Joe gets really angry. Joe says:

“Well, I’m not eatin’ this. I – am – not – eatin’ – shite!” (38)

This shows that Joe has a split personality, he is trying to be dramatic by pausing as he speaks. This is also forceful behaviour. I have shown this in my scene when Joe suggests that Shirley has been planning the split-up. Joe says:

“You’ve been plannin’ it haven’t you. You – must – have – been.” (133)

This shows that Joe is still being forceful and putting pressure on Shirley.

The theme ‘the grass is greener syndrome’ is demonstrated in the play when Shirley is dreaming about going to Greece but when she finally goes she finds out that it is not all that it seems. This is used in my scene because Shirley tells Joe that Greece isn’t what she expected but it is better than life with him. Shirley says:

“Bein’ in Greece has made me realise, although it is not what I expected, it is better than life with you. I don’t need yeh Joe.” (133)

This shows that Shirley thought that Greece was going to be better than it turned out to be but she has come to her senses about her marriage to Joe. This was shown earlier in the play when Shirley met Majorie Majors again and expected her to be an airhostess or another good job. Then she finds out that Majorie is a hooker. Shirley says:

“I just can’t believe it. You. A hooker. Honest, Majorie?” (32)

This shows that Shirley expected more of Majorie than a hooker. This means that Shirley thought that the grass was greener for Majorie, but really it was brown. Shirley used to believe that Majorie was better than she was. Shirley says:

“And I wanted to be like you. If only we’d known, we could’ve been great mates – you know, real close.” (32)

This shows that in Shirley’s childhood, she wanted to be like Majorie. Then she found out that Majorie was a prostitute she was kind of relieved that she hadn’t turned out like her. Shirley had dreams and ambitions, while it seems that Majorie didn’t, so ended up as she is. Shirley had dreams. Shirley said:

“And there was me when I was a girl – the only thing I ever wanted was to travel. I always wanted to be an air hostess – or a courier.” (23)

This shows that Shirley has lived up to one of her ambitions, by going to Greece.

I have shown this in my extra scene because Shirley admits that Greece isn’t what she expected. I have also shown Shirley speaking of her desire for travel. Shirley says:

“Bein’ in Greece has made me realise that although it is not what I expected, it is better than life with you. I don’t need yeh Joe. I have completed my ambitions. I still love you, but it just wasn’t working out was it.” (133)

This shows that Shirley has lived up to her ambitions. She tells Joe that she has ambitions and that he has been holding her back from completing them.

The only characters from the play that appear in my scene are Shirley and Joe. I found the characters Shirley and Joe believable because the sort of marriage that they had was typical of the time the play was set. I have noticed this by some of the things mentioned in the play such as Shirley being in the kitchen all off the time. Shirley says:

“What will he be like, eh Wall? My feller? What will he be like when he finds out he’s only getting’ chips an’ egg for his tea?” (2)

This shows that Joe and Shirley are very stereotypical characters because the stereotype of married men was to be the master and for the wife to obey. I think that this quote shows this because Shirley is saying that Joe will get annoyed when he finds out that he is only getting chips and eggs for his tea. This is implying that Joe is the boss and he will be angry when Shirley has failed to complete her task. It also implies that Shirley belongs in the kitchen, because Shirley is wondering what Joe will say if she doesn’t cook the right food. This makes me think that Shirley is always in the kitchen because Joe is always making her make the tea and do the cleaning because he is a conventional man that thinks that he should be obeyed. This is shown when Joe says:

“Never mind the bleedin’ wall. It’s nearly six o’clock, get on with gettin’ me tea.” (17)

This shows that Joe thinks that Shirley belongs in the kitchen.

I think that this play was presented in a sexist fashion because Shirley was mainly positioned in the kitchen. This made it seem that Willy Russell wanted the audience to feel that Joe was the man making the money and that Shirley was an accessory in the kitchen, just cooking and cleaning. This is shown when Joe says:

“I always have me tea at six o’clock.” (17)

This shows that Joe expects his tea to be ready, but Shirley hasn’t done it so Joe gets sexist about it. I have shown this in my scene when Joe says:

“What, after everything I’ve said.” (133)

This shows that Joe is only commenting on the things that he said, this is sexist because Joe is only thinking of himself as usual.

Shirley changes during the play. This is at the point where she decides to leave Joe to fend for himself while she goes to Greece. Shirley says:

“Gillian really believes it! All that rubbish about me takin’ a lover! She really believes its possible! In her eyes I’m no longer Shirley Bradshaw – middle-aged housewife, beginnin’ to sag a bit – I’m Shirley the brave, Shirley the marvellous! . . . Shirley Valentine! From now on, when I look in the mirror, I’m not goin’ to say ‘Christ, you’re forty-two – I’m going to say, ‘Hey Shirley, you’re only forty-two! Isn’t that marvellous?” (54)

This gave me a clearer impression of the character because Shirley expressed herself more and she told herself that she didn’t need Joe in her life and that she wasn’t a failure at forty-two. She showed the audience a new side of her and that she had rediscovered her aspirations and dreams. I have used my understanding of the characters in my scene because I have shown both of Joe’s sides; the nice side that was used when he was first married and the nasty side which is the side that is normally shown. Joe says:

“It won’t Shirl. Come on, I love you, you little bugger.” this is the good side;

“You go off with the first bloke you see, and you expect me to friggin’ calm down.”

(133)

This shows both sides of Joe’s personality. I have also made Shirley’s character the side of Shirley that was shown after she left Joe. Shirley says:

“It was gonna happen one day wasn’t it.” (133)

This shows Shirley standing up to Joe, which she didn’t do when with Joe. I have shown Joe getting angry at Shirley’s relationship with Costas as if it would have been all right if he had done it but not if Shirley had done it. Joe says:

“You go off with the first bloke you see, and you expect me to friggin’ calm down.” (133)

This shows that Joe is getting angry at Shirley’s affair and is showing force and dramatics.

The setting of the play is in the early eighties, I have noticed this in the play when Shirley was in the wine bar with her friends. Shirley says:

“D’you know . . . . D’you know when I was a girl I’d never even heard of the clitoris.” (11)

This shows that the play was set in the early eighties because the clitoris was new to people at that time.

There are other suggestions that the play was set in the early eighties such as the young people preferring wine bars to other places. Millandra says:

“Anyway, they don’t sell rum an’ coke here – it’s a wine bar. Look they sell wine.” (9)

This shows that Shirley is still stuck in the yesteryears while her child and her friends are going to the new fashion of wine bars. This shows that the eighties were a time of wine bars.

The setting of the play is in Liverpool, this is shown in the play because the text is written missing out the ‘Gs’ and ‘Ds’. This is demonstrated when Joe says:

“Chips an’ egg. Chips an’ friggin’ egg . . . When I’m workin’ all the hours that God sends.” (38)

This shows Joe’s accent is Liverpudlian and that the play is set in Liverpool. The words that Joe says are typical of a Liverpudlian man. Joe says:

“Up the friggin’ pipe”

This is the dialect of a person from Liverpool. I have used the word friggin’ in my scene when Joe gets angry at Shirley for having an affair. Joe says:

“And you expect me to friggin’ calm down.” (133)

This shows that I have shown Joe is still speaking in a Liverpudlian accent whilst in Greece. I have shown the humour that Willy Russell has applied to the play when Joe says:

“I thought we were getting somewhere.” (133)

Joe says this when Shirley decides to leave him. This is humorous because Joe says this when he knows that his marriage is over and he is suggesting that there is still something left in their marriage. Willy Russell’s humour was shown earlier in the play when Joe says:

“I think you . . . are goin’ round the bend.” Then Shirley says

“Oh, I do hope so. I’ve always wanted to travel.” (17)

This shows that Shirley is still pulling out one liners although her marriage is a mess and her life is awful. This also shows Shirley’s love for travel again. I have captured this in my scene when Shirley says in a voice over:

“I knew it was too good to be true.” (133)

This shows that Shirley is saying that it was too good to be true that Joe was being nice. This is because he went mad when he had no hope of getting Shirley back.

I feel that I have got my script quite good because I have used a voice over:

“I knew it was too good to be true.” (133)

This is used because Shirley is thinking this but she doesn’t want to say it out aloud because she knows that it will provoke Joe into something irrational. I think that the voice-overs have been used before for this reason.

I think that my storyline is a good follow on from the play because Shirley and Joe’s marriage is always going to fall apart. In my scene though, Shirley confirms to Joe that it is true.

“No Joe, it’s over.” (133)

This shows Shirley telling Joe that it is over. Joe’s natural aggression is shown in my extra scene when Shirley tells Joe that it was going to happen one day. Joe goes mad as usual. Shirley walking away from Joe shows that she has changed into an independent women, she doesn’t need Joe anymore and cant take anymore of his anger and violence.. My stage directions aren’t as good as they could have been because I decided not to put them in until the end. I did this because I thought that after the script was finished then it would be easier to put the directions in, but it wasn’t. I have carried on with the accents of both the characters as shown in my script because I have left out all of the ‘Gs’ and ‘Ds’ at the end of the words that they say. I think that I have got the right tone because my scene starts off calm and then ends up with shouting an violence.

Cite this page

Shirley Valentine. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/shirley-valentine-new-essay

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