In the opening part of the play feeling sympathy for Shirley is a regular occurrence expressed through loneliness, regret, unhappiness and humour. This only being a minority of the feelings Shirley feels.
We find Shirley to be a humorous and genile person looking for a more easyer and comfortable way of life.
We feel sympathy for Shirley when her sadness is expressed as insecurity. “Even though her name was changed to Bradshaw she was still Shirley Valentine.” This shows how she was changed into something she did not want to be and how she regrets marrying Joe. Shirley has an ability to make humour out of what may be at discomfort to her. Maybe the marriage to Joe is an example of this. Shirley’s life becomes jaded and boring, as her life seemed to go down hill after marrying Joe. “They say don’t they…I felt like that at twenty-five”. It seems as though Shirley was cheated out fifteen years in her life, which creates sympathy for Shirley. Shirley finds it hard to make friends and to socialize with others. “I haven’t known Jane all that long, but she’s great.” Shows this and Shirley is troubled when she hears that Jane is going to Greece for two weeks. Shirley was accused of being a cheat at school when she was not. “YOU, she yelled you must have been told that answer.”
This disheartened Shirley and changed her point of view to school life at this point. Deep down Shirley still wanted to be nice and gentile. We find out that Shirley meets the old school teacher’s pet that Shirley wanted to be like. “Well Marjorie, you’ve waited a long time for your revenge but you’ve got me good style now haven’t y?” Ironically is it found that Marjorie wanted to be just like Shirley was at school. Marjorie had become a high-class whore. The sadness that Shirley feels creates sympathy towards her. The regret that Shirley felt cannot be expressed until Shirley cries on the bus journey home leaving the audience distraught. As Marjorie kissed Shirley the deep emotion leads to her crying on the bus. This is the only time she had felt real affection leaving her even more upset. “She leaned forward an’ just kissed me-thereon the cheek – an’ there was real affection in that kiss.”
Shirley is reminiscing the past as she misses the fun the marriage had started out to be. “She used to laugh with Joe” she wishes it could be the same. She feels as though the old Shirley has disappeared and she is trying to humour the situation again.
Shirley is so lonely that she talks to the wall to keep her company. This is quite a sad thing that she is doing leaving the audience wishing that they would never be in her position. Shirley Valentine’s daily routine would be very simple and very feminine, the cooking and cleaning being the main prospect. This is not helped by the fact of a selfish husband that has to come into consideration with everything including the cooking. We know that Shirley is not happy inside the marriage because she promised herself that she would leave Joe as soon as the children grow up. This showing insecurity, loyalty and self-depriving. Shirley was loyal to the children by not leaving the children when they were young so they would have a hard time. She is also self-depriving as she promised herself that she would leave Joe but has still not done this. She is also scared because she feels as though she would have no place to go.
Willy Russell creates sympathy for Shirley by expressing her feelings in various different ways, loneliness, unhappiness, regret, and loyalty. Shirley is humorous, dominated and self-deprived.
I think that Shirley needs to go on the two-week trip to Greece with Jane and then decide if she wants to carry on the marriage with Joe. If not she should go and find peace in the country.