Willy Russell's Use of Devices to Invite the Audience to Sympathize with Shirley in the Screenplay Shirley Valentine

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Shirley Valentine, a story about a middle-aged house-wife whose life couldn’t be more mundane; she has no one but the wall to talk to. Shirley Valentine, written by Willy Russell, is one of his most famous screenplays. This essay will look at how Russell invites the audience to sympathise with Shirley through his use of language, ideas and themes, the effects of dramatic devices and characters in the play. Russell uses characters and their actions to invite us to feel sympathy for Shirley. The way she is treated by her family and especially Joe makes the readers feel compassion for her. ‘It’s nearly six o’clock get on with gettin’ me tea.’ is one example of the way Shirley is treated badly. ‘get on with’ is a very commanding phrase; it…show more content…
Joe’s views on women is based on some the social beliefs of the 1980s that a women’s role is as a mother and a wife. This is similar to the context because Joe is being sexist as he expects Shirley to do the housework. Even though women did go out and work they were still expected to look after their husbands. If the audience were to be in Shirley’s shoes, they would probably be very fed up of life and pretty miserable and depressed at how they are being treated by Joe. During the 1980s it would have been easy for women to relate to stories like Shirley’s because some of them may have faced these problems. By relating to common problems probably faced by a lot of women Russell makes it easier for them to sympathise because Shirley’s life is what they might be living too. A lot of the screenplay has been influenced by Russell’s own life. He listened to a lot of women’s stories when he worked as a women’s hairdresser. This helped him understand their problems and their feelings which he successfully portrayed in Shirley Valentine. However, not all the characters in the screenplay invite the audience to sympathise with Shirley. This is because they are nice to Shirley and treat her nicely. Costas is the complete opposite to Joe. While Joe takes Shirley for granted, Costas helps Shirley enjoy her time in Greece and makes her feel appreciated. He

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