How does Shelagh Delaney establish the relationship of the main characters for the audience in Act 1 Scene 1 of ‘A Taste of Honey’?

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David O'Neill 10.2

Taste of honey Essay

How does Shelagh Delaney establish the relationship of the main characters for the audience in Act 1 Scene 1 of 'A Taste of Honey'?

The first scene is probably the most important scene of all, as it tells us about the nature of the characters and their attitudes. The first words of the play that are stage directions play a big part. The quote " the stage represents a comfortless flat . . . . . the street outside. Jazz music" this tell us about the time in which they lived which was post war Britain from the jazz music. Jazz music is associated with the blues that was music about being down on your luck which was popular at these times. Mentioning that they lived in Manchester also gave a feeling of their surroundings. In Manchester at this time of the play there would have been few people of other ethnic origins as opposed to 1 in 20 British citizens being African, Asian or Caribbean origin in the 1990s. Also in that day and age it was only a tiny minority of the population on which were single parents. This would be the most important scene because it gave us an idea of what Helen and Jo are like. It tells us what there attitudes are and what sort of relationship they have.

Helen reacts differently to Helen at the first impressions of the flat. While Helen is making the flat sounding a lot better than it actually is to make her feel a little bit better so she doesn't feel like a failure, Deep down inside she knows she is. Helen about the flat when she says "What's wrong with this place? . . . . . Anyway it will do for us". Jo hates the flat and express's her feelings when she express's to her mother "I don't like it" which are also the first words Jo, says in the play. Also Jo keeps pointing out faults to the flat like "the roof's leaking" and "I bet it'll smell" trying to persuade Helen that the flat she had taken was a dump. You could say that Jo is pessimist and Helen is an optimist when it comes to attitudes to the flat. The setting of the flat is very depressing and greatly affects the characters of the play and brings them down. From the descriptions of the characters there are all the things people don't want to live near such as the gasworks, the slaughterhouse, tenements and a cemetery. Also when they arrive in the flat its raining which I think reflects how the characters are feeling and how low they are at the time. In the time Jo and Helen moved into the flat it was post war Britain and everything was being spent on buildings that needed restoring from the bombing during the wars. This meant that very little money was being spent to improve the condition of housing. The state of the flat affects Jo and Helen causing tension and most arguments nearly always start from living conditions of their flat. The flat also represents the chain of their life. They move from one run old flat to another that we find out when Jo says, "Every place we find is the same" which shows they are in a cycle they cannot break.
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Jo and Helen are mother and daughter, but as a reader it's more of a sister relationship. Helen isn't a supportive mother and puts Jo down when she can which we find out when she says "The way she bangs about! I tell you, my head's coming off". In the play there is one part where Helen offers to pay for Jo to go to Art School. Even though she says "Have you ever . . . you'll soon learn" I don't think she means it and follow through with promises.

They talk to one and other ...

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