Shoe Horn Sonata Essay About Myself

Distinctively visual explores how we see and or visualize images in a way that allows us to become aware of various aspects in society. The play, The Shoe Horn Sonata written by John Misto and the film clip Stupid Girls by Pink, use distinctively visual elements to create a sense of awareness about women. Misto’s script pays tribute to the Australian female nurses in WWII, revealing the realities of war through the strength and resilience of Bridie and Sheila. Similarly, the characterization of the ‘stupid girls’ in Pink’s film clip, highlight the toxic messages of consumerism aimed at young girls. She ironically does this by exploiting her celebrity status through the media. Both composers position the responder to question the past and the media, and realize what woman have gone and are going through.

In The Shoe Horn Sonata, Misto reveals the ignorance portrayed by the British and Australian government towards the women held captive in old Singapore. The contrast between the projected images of the “1942 Singapore” and the accompaniment of the patriotic song ‘Rule Britannia’ emphaises the idiotic attitude of the British government, as their belief towards the Japanese invasion was seen as surreal. This is further highlighted when the British state “don’t listen to rumour”. As a result of the British’s attitude the vivid images of “burning ships” and “women prisoners of the Japanese…skin and bone and dressed in rags” position the audience to become aware of the selfish views by the British. Similarly to this, the Australian government’s advice to “keep smiling” ironically implies their ignorant view towards the women.

This is contrasted with the projected images of “Prime Minister John Curtain…quite distressed” and “emaciated male prisoners of war, starving” showing his concern for the dying male POWs. This shows an existence of sexism in which Misto positions us to become aware of this issue, raised during wartime. Misto uses ignorance of the British government to show the strength of these women who from the beginning have little support from a supposedly ‘great’ nation. Their ignorance becomes another struggle these women have to overcome in their journey to freedom. Showing what these women were up against, Misto demonstrates the significance of this event in history.

By experiencing times of hardship, the strength amongst individuals continues to grow. Misto presents this through the motif of the shoe horn which becomes not only a survival tool but a catalyst for the growth of the relationship between Bridie and Sheila. In scene three the shoe horn is physically shown when Bridie and Sheila retell of their survival in the ocean, in which Bridie used it as a buoyant for Sheila. This is accompanied by the sound effect of waves which allows the audience to visualize the setting and empathise with the struggle they endured. At the play’s ending, the spotlight of the shoe horn is the final object seen by the audience, highlighting the significance of this object, representing all memories of the POW camp The ‘Blue Danube Waltz’ accompanies the shoe horn, which symbolises a sense of freedom as it becomes “the music of joy and triumph and survival”.

When Sheila uncovers her buried past “So I went to the Japs” the shoe horn is revealed as a tangible object, highlighting her fearful memories of when she sacrificed her virginity to the Japanese. This depicts not only the horrible realities of war but also the strength of Bridie and Sheila’s relationship as Sheila states “I couldn’t let you die and leave me, I wouldn’t have survived”. The shoe horn was also used as a metronome for the sonata which showed a sense of unity and strength amongst the women, who fought to survive “fifty voices set us free”. Misto positions the audience to identify the suffering and pain these women had experienced, thus become aware of the harsh realities of war. However it is through their strength within themselves and as a group that allows them to survive.

Conversely to this, Pink uses symbolism to show the influence of consumerism on the youth and the messages portrayed by the media. In the first scene Pink’s choice of age is used with the little girl representing innocence holding a Barbie doll signifying consumerism, emphasizes the influence that has already impacted on young girls. The juxtaposition of the angel and the devil symbolizes the choices that young girls face in order to live a normal lifestyle. In the bowling scene, the close up of the inflatable breasts shows the absurdity of the shot and emphasise the focus on ‘body’ rather than mind. This suggests that the media is convincing young girls to act, behave and be a certain way. Consumerism is dangerous as it can lead to more serious consequences e.g. eating disorders and oversexualisation. Pink positions the audience to not only identify this issue but to take action so to prevent this happening further to the younger generation.

Like Pink, Misto shows how the ignorance of the British has led to a deadly consequence of the women being held captive as POWs. The unconvential line of “if only they had” suggests that if the British had believed the invasion was occurring, then they would have saved more lives. Unlike Misto, Pink uses satire to manipulate the celebrity lifestyle to which young girls look up to. In the bulimia scene, when Pink states “I totally had more than three hundred calories today, that was so not sexy” followed by the close up of the toothbrush symbolizes the expected way to loose weight, hence body image is seen as a priority for young females. By cutting between the sex tape and car washing scenes it conveys the oversexualisation of the popular culture in contemporary society, to which Pink states “she’s dancing in the video next to fifty cent”.

This suggests that through the actions of female role models, young girls are influenced to act like a “stupid girl” in order to live up to society’s expectations. Thus Pink positions the audience to become aware of the false images that these celebrities portray. Like Pink, Misto conveys the struggle that these women endure in order to survive, through the symbolism of the caramel representing their only luxury of food, which Misto positions us to empathise with their struggle. This inevitably shows the strength of the women prisoners but also the strength of women who fight to raise awareness about issues in the contemporary society.

Both texts provide a detailed analysis on the struggle of women in the past and in today’s society, positioning the responder to identify with their pain and suffering. Through the use of distinctively visual elements, Misto emphasizes the strength of these women who fought to survive whilst experiencing the horrible realities of war as POWS. Similarly, Pink’s use of distinctively visual elements portrays the toxic and false messages the media impose on young females in order to live a ‘celebrity lifestyle’. However both the composers enable the audience to empathise with these women during wartime but to also take action towards the issue of consumerism amongst female teenagers.

The Shoe horn Sonata by John Misto was published in 1996, which focuses on the perspective of two women, Bridie and Sheila, who effectively reveal to the responders the horrific events that occurred in their past as prisoners of the Imperial Japanese Army during WW2. Misto uses a variety of distinctive features and theatrical devices to portray the concepts of strength and courage in Bridie and Sheila’s relationship. As the responder, we become aware of the nature of the characters due to the intensity and tone demonstrated in the dialogue.

This technique allows the responder to dwell into the mindset of Bridie and Sheila, and this by means draws them into the play. The tone and mood of both protagonists is crucial to discovering Sheila’s secret of betrayal. The varying contrast between Bridie’s loud and angered tone with Sheila’s quiet nature is highly effective in carrying across to the responder the tension caused by these two personalities. The use of these techniques not only arouses a sense of drama and conflict, but also allows the responder to ultimately absorb what was confirmed.

The two main characters bridie and Sheila demonstrates how two human beings can support each other, through the most horrendous events of the war. The vibrant power of the friendship is what holds the whole narrative together. Bridie is the strong-willed, down to earth character and is someone that is capable of great love and affection. To Sheila she was a sole mate. Sheila completes the protagonist duo in the play; she is more concerned with correctness and behaviour and comes across to be a more formal character than bridie.

Through the use of a combination of contrasts “lightning, songs and voice over’s” telling the responder what Sheila did. She slept with a Japanese in return for quinine to save bridies life. This is the climax of the play, revealed in act 1 scene 8, “Don’t look away, would you have gone to the Japs. For me? ” the contrast between bridies loud angry tone and Shelia’s silence is effective. It allows the responder to absorb what happened creating a dramatic atmosphere resolving the tension in the play that it arouses.

Without the elements of humor the play wouldn’t be as affective, as the humor in the play, plays a major part in the story, the text would be very dry with the traumatic horrors of the war. The humor derives not only from the way in which the women used the power of the human spirit to laugh at adversity, but also from the way in which the playwright has juxtaposed those moments of recounting comic events with the memories of the horrors of reality. The use of many projected images adds to the mood and atmosphere of the play.

The purpose of the projected images is to convey the horrors of the war supporting the women’s stories. These images juxtapose the fictional with the real, to differentiate what’s in the present and what is in the past. These images send a sense of reality and creativity to the play. The play also uses great language e. g. descriptive detail in the monologues, imagery e. g. “on four wobbly legs we walk down to the village”; this provides a visual image of the scene and the efforts of both Sheila and Bridie.

Stage directions and music are two contrasts that enable the audience to gain an understanding of the intensity that the women feel when Bridie “squeezes Sheila’s hand”. Misto uses the power of music to support his script as the images and music provide constantly changing focuses for the responder’s attention. The using if song shows the actuality of the viewer which uplifts the power of music. It adds to a variety and emotional sub-text to many of the play’s scenes.

The words of the songs and musical items highlight the notion of the “sonata” dwelling the mind into the past. Another feature of this play is the use of symbolism, where the “shoe horn” is the symbol of the women’s story. It symbolizes the strong loyalty of the characters relationships, as Misto used sound effects “distant sound of crickets” highlighting that Sheila was hiding something. She traded herself instead of The Shoe Horn creating sympathy towards Sheila and loyalty between all other women by the audience.

This symbolism is what completes the plays dramatic nature as the Shoe Horn itself symbolizes the life changing events that the women had to endure. This demonstrates the very essence of the human spirit and the will to survive. The tension is evident as you can feel when bridie declares “Your alive today because of me, don’t you forget it”. The audience, knowing the truth draws the responder to the play. In conclusion it comes to symbolize, the revelation of Sheila’s secret, to the deeds of the past and the reaffirmation of the friendship between the two women.

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