In "A Taste of Honey" Shelagh Delaney presents Jo as a young woman looking for security and love. Compare the relationships she has with Helen, her boyfriend and Geoff. To what extent does she find security and love with each?

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In “A Taste of Honey” Shelagh Delaney presents Jo as a young woman looking for security and love. Compare the relationships she has with Helen, her boyfriend and Geoff. To what extent does she find security and love with each?

Shelagh Delaney the writer of the play “A Taste of Honey” was born on November 25th 1939 in Salford, England. It was in school when she saw her first play, an amateur performance of Shakespeare’s “Othello”. She was only twelve at the time, and the play made a great impression on her.


When she was seventeen, she began writing “A Taste of Honey” as a novel but later realised that it would be better as a play so it was first performed in 1958, accepted by Joan Littlewood, a famous director of the Political Theatre who strongly believed that plays should be about ordinary people.

 “A Taste of Honey” is mainly about a young working class girl who refuses to conform to her dreary surroundings and way of life.

When the play was introduced, it was rare to find any of the situations portrayed in any other plays as the circumstances of each of the characters in the play were polemic and unaccepted by a neglectful society.

Keeping up the appearances was an important factor in life, and at the time public disgrace was a horrendous situation to be involved in., so it almost became a day to day struggle to keep others satisfied with a suitable personal image that no one had the right to question. People were often very prejudiced about things like origin and race, sexual inclination, promiscuity and sex before marriage. To be involved in any of those things was a serious act for concern from the family and members of the community.

At the time people were very religious and strict with regards to homosexuality, promiscuity and sex before marriage, in households from the 20th century, there was rarely a laid back mentality when these situations happened in the conventional life of an ordinary person. It was very common for a youngster to be involved in any of the above, as the senior members relied on their traditional customs and philosophies and took a lot of care in their every move.

Ironically this play doesn’t seem very concerned with all the issues that emerge from that society, and makes it a much more rebellious and interesting play to watch.

However interesting it was, not everyone agreed with the content of the play, as some reviewers confessed that this was the first play they had seen with a coloured person and a homosexual man.

Jo is a 15-year old girl who seems to have been unfortunate in life due to the circumstances that we see her in at the start of the play.

By the way of life she leads, we learn that she is not happy or satisfied with herself or with her only relative, her mother. She displays inappropriate behaviour for a teenager of her time, “I don’t owe you a thing.” By saying this we learn that she has little respect for Helen and is very distant from her, she also sounds angry and frustrated because she knows she deserves much more and also because Helen has not been a proper mother to her in any way.

Something else, which we are able to see from Jo’s lifestyle, is that she is frequently exposed by her mother, to different men coming in and out of Helen’s life. The best example is Peter, a “close” friend of Helen’s. This is evidently an unsuitable environment for a teenage girl, and clearly shows that Helen is not very concerned about the image she is creating in Jo’s mind.  We can conclude that Helen is not only being a terrible example for daughter Jo, but also is offering no security in the sense of stable relationships that can benefit Jo in a good way. Helen doesn’t stand firm in front of Jo and by inviting men into her house, she is loosing all sense of respect for herself and most importantly, for her daughter. Its almost like Helen and Jo are friends who take “boyfriends” in for intimate relationships.

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At the start of the play we learn that Helen has a strong drinking problem, “drink, drink, drink, that’s all you’re fit for. You make me sick.” Jo is directly affected by it, as she has to co-exist with this habit in Helen’s life. We know that she clearly dislikes it and mentions how her mother isn’t good for anything else apart from drinking. This can represent the way Jo feels, since the time she started to realise her mother’s neglectful treat “you make me sick”, Jo’s frustration has become so great that she has started to hate her ...

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