Shirley Valentine Essay, Research Paper
Why why do you get all this life when it ca not be used? Why – why do y’get.. all these..feelin’s an’dreams an’hopes if they can’t ever be used?” This is the question Shirley Valentine, an English housewife and mother, asks herself. After her children have left home, her only purpose in life is getting dinner ready in time for her grumbling husband who has long ceased to love her. Having nobody she can trust, Shirley has started to tell her dreams and worries to the kitchen wall on which many a witty comment has been wasted.
In a moment of revolt she feeds the mince meat she just bought for dinner to her employer’s bloodhound which has been brought up as a strict vegetarian. For her, the look on the dog’s face when it tastes meat for the first time justifies the trouble she will have to put up with at home, when she serves anything but the accustomed meat. She has not expected, however, that her husband would push the plate with the food on her lap and go to a Chinese take-away. She is so upset by his behavior that in spite of her pangs of conscience she accepts an ivitation from her best friend, Jane, to accompany her on a two-week’s holiday to Greece. The holiday at the Mediterranean coast means to her the fulfillment of the long cherished dream to drink a glass of wine in the land where the grape grows.
As she knows that her family would try to talk her out of her plan, she does her shopping and packing secretly, looking forward to a few days away from home but also fearing that she can not hold her own in the world on the other side of the kitchen wall.
However, her weak self confidence is quickly strengthened when her friend leaves her on the first day of their vacation because of a Greek beau. Alone in a foreign country she notices that she needs not to be afraid of being alone because she is “an expert at it.” And she also handles the other problems of every day life, like ordering a glass of Retsina or digesting a squid with comparative nonchalance. In an affectionate though little serious affair she finds new energy and in the picturesque Greek landscape the peace she has longed for. Like all plays by Willy Russell SHIRLEY VALENTINE demonstrates the attempt of a member of the working class to break through the narrow limits of her existence. Too close to reality to be considered a modern fairy tale and too optimistic to be a realistic drama SHIRLEY VALENTINE is a witty, intelligent and very touching play about the search for happiness. With only one actress on stage Willy Russell succeeds in creating a whole microcosm with dreamers and bores, with hope and frustration, with light and shadow. In her lively narration Shirley brings all the other characters to life and gives the audience a vivid impression of her complex world.