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 will not approve of her going on holiday. Joe has not taken Shirley on holiday because he does not like travelling.
Shirley has another flashback of a few weeks earlier when she runs into Marjorie Majors outside a hotel, this was the first time she was seeing her after she left school. Shirley and Marjorie start to talk and Shirley mistakes Marjorie for being an air hostess but soon realises that she is a high class hooker. When Shirley realises this she is very shocked and thinks to herself that if Marjorie Majors who was a perfect student at high school could go on to achieve anything she wanted to has become a high class hooker; then Shirley could go on holiday with Jane.
When Shirley is on the bus home she starts thinking about her life and how she is only a wife and a mother and she gets quite emotional. “What happened to her? What’s happened to Shirley Valentine? She got married – to a boy called Joe. And even though her name was changed to Bradshaw she was still Shirley Valentine. For a while, she knew who she was. But somewhere along the way, the boy called Joe turned into ‘him’. And Shirley Valentine turned into – this. An’ what I can’t remember is the day or the week or the month or the year when it stopped bein’ any good. From this we can clearly see that Shirley is unhappy with her life and she really wants a change in it. At home Shirley and Joe are sat down to eat dinner but Joe is unhappy as she has cooked chips and eggs on a Thursday and Thursday is steak day. Joe throws the dinner across the table and the food lands on Shirley’s lap, she does not shout and stays composed. Shirley walks over to the cupboard and opens it to show a poster of Greece and points at it, she tells Joe “It’s a place… a place I’m goin’ to. When Joe pushed the plate on to Shirley’s lap because she cooked the wrong food on the wrong day it was the last straw and she could take it anymore, so she decided that she is going to go to Greece. In act 2 Shirley is getting ready to getting ready to go to Greece and is out buying essentials, she buys suntan lotion and a Greek phrase book. Shirley is in the underwear section were she meets Gillian her neighbour, they start talking about a pair of lacy knickers which Shirley has picked up.
Gillian assumes straight away that they are for Shirley’s daughter, Millandra; Shirley then tells Gillian that she is buying them for herself “Oh no, Gillian, I’m not buying them for Millandra. I’m buying them for myself…Yes but I shan’t be wearing them for myself. I shall be wearing them for … for my lover. ” Shirley makes a very bold decision in saying this as she is not actually going to Greece with her lover, as she walks away Gillian is left completely amazed. At home when Shirley has packed her suitcase ready to go to Greece her daughter Millandra returns home with her suitcase because she has fallen out with her roommate.
Millandra automatically assumes, like Gillian did, that Shirley has nothing better to do then listen to her problem. Shirley tells Millandra that she and Jane are going on holiday together without any male company and so she automatically assumes that she is going for the sex and is completely disgusted with her mother and leaves. Shirley shouts out the window to Millandra saying “That’s right, Millandra, I’m going to Greece for the sex! Sex for breakfast! Sex for dinner! Sex for tea! And sex for supper! ” After Millandra leaves Shirley’s confidence is completely knocked and she starts thinking that Millandra is right, “You?
Goin’ to Greece? What for? What the hell am I goin’ for? Shirley, you are one silly bitch. You’re 42 not 22. You’re just another stupid women looking for an adventure. And the time for adventure is over. Well I’ll phone Jane and tell her I’m not coming. ” When she goes to ring Jane, Gillian comes over to her house to give her a present. The Present is a silk robe and Gillian tells Shirley that she never had the confidence to use it and that she thinks Shirley is marvellous for what she is doing. Shirley’s confidence is restored with this and without letting Joe know she leaves to go to Greece.
When Joe returns home from work, he comes back to an empty house with Shirley gone to Greece. The first time that we see Shirley on holiday, is when she is sat on her own talking to a rock, this is like the wall back home. Shirley tells us about how Jane left her for a man that she met on the plane on the way to Greece, and Jane is meant to be a feminist who hates guys because her husband cheated on her with the milkman, “Jane divorced her husband. I never knew him, it was before I met her. Apparently she came home from work unexpectedly one morning and found him in bed with the milkman.
Honest to God, the milkman ! But from that day forward I’ve noticed she never takes milk in her tea. ” Whilst on the ferry Shirley meets two other couples Thelma, Sydney and Dougie, Jeanette. Whilst Shirley is on holiday she makes her dream come true and sits but the sea sipping on a glass of wine whilst watching the sun go down. “Funny isn’t it? You know, when you’ve pictured somethin’ – and you’ve imagined how somethin’s gonna be – well, it never turns out like that does it? … I don’t feel at all lovely an’ serene. I feel pretty daft actually. After sitting there for a while she starts to feel pretty daft because she realises her dream was not much of a dream. The waiter from the tavern, Costas walks Shirley home and asks her if she would like to go on his brother’s boat with him. After thinking about it she agrees to go with him the following morning. That morning Shirley is getting ready to go meet Costas when Jane arrives saying sorry for leaving her. Shirley explains that she is about where she is about to go and Jane tries to stop her but she doesn’t listen and leaves with Costas who is waiting downstairs. When Shirley and Costas are on the boat together they go skinny ipping, and Shirley is has enough self esteem to get naked in front of Costas. Shirley and Costas eventually have sex and at this point in the play the boat is rocking and an orchestra is playing in the background, “Oh my god, where did that orchestra come from? ” From this we can infer that Shirley has either never had an orgasm or she has not sex in a very long time. When Shirley gets back she tells Jane about what had happened but explains that she has not fell in love with Costas but she has fallen in love with her new self and the idea of living her life (“Well I haven’t fallen in love with him.
I’ve fallen in love with the idea of living. ”) Shirley sees Costas at a wedding and he invites her to join him, and Shirley absolutely loves the atmosphere and the idea of living. Shirley and Jane are on there way to the airport to go back to England when Shirley decides that she does not want to go back and wants to stay in Greece because she feels that in Greece she is not just a mother and a housewife with no life. Shirley has realised that there is more to life than being a housewife and that she needs to start taking care of herself rather than everyone around her.
So Shirley returns back to the tavern leaving Jane to go back home alone; this is where she sees Costas talking to a woman using the same chat up lines he used on Shirley. Shirley tells Costas not to worry and that she did not stay for him but in fact wants a job and wants to live in Greece. Shirley starts to work in the tavern and it is weeks before she receives a phone call from Joe telling her to stop being stupid and come home, . A bloody disgrace – to…to…to the children – to me – to yourself. I’m a laughing stock! That’s what I am, a laughing stock. ” Shirley however refuses to come back home as she is enjoying life in Greece finally living for herself. After this we see Shirley sitting on the beach and Joe appears with his suitcase and walks straight past Shirley as he hardly recognises her and turns around to see her and she says, “Hello, I used to be a mother. I used to be a wife. But now I’m Shirley Valentine again. In conclusion I think that Shirley should stay in Greece because she is living happier life, a life that she has always wanted. Shirley should not go back to Liverpool with Joe, and although it is unlikely for Joe to stay in Greece for to long before he gets home sick, if he did stay with her that would be great as they could have more of a social life and Shirley could do something with her life. Also by Joe actually coming to Greece to get Shirley shows that he does love her.