Themes and Issues in a Taste of Honey

Topics: Shelagh Delaney, Marriage, Poverty Pages: 6 (2442 words) Published: September 2, 2014
Themes and Issues - A Taste Of Honey by Shelagh Delaney
The Themes and Issues 
Within A Taste of Honey Love Racism Family Prostitution Alcoholism Single Parenting Abandonment Throughout the text, there are many  different types of love which are explored. Throughout the text, the theme of Racism is evident. Throughout the text, the theme of family engages a contemporary audience. During the play it is insinuated that both Helen and Peter are alcohol dependent Helen is presented to the audience as a semi - whore, not a prostitute. Shelagh Delaney said herself :

"The mother is not a prostitute, nowhere have i said she is..."

However, throughout the play, it is insinuated that Helen has sold her body in the past, in desperation:

"I'm thinking of giving it up...
Sex! Men!"

Helen accepts gifts from her lovers as a way of making a living and supporting Jo:

"And we're supposed to be living off her immoral earnings..." The issue of single parenting is explored within the play. Jo is abandoned by several people throughout the course of the play; her mother, Geof, Jimmy and her father. She is surrounded by constant disappointment when it comes to relying on people. This is why she is self dependent ;

"The time to have taken care of me was years ago, when I couldn’t take care of myself." Family Love, displayed by Jo and Helen ;

"It's alright love. I'm here and everything is alright."

Although Helen abandons Jo, she does eventually return with a desire to finally look after her and be the mother that she should have been in the first place. The idea of romantic relationships and marriage ;

It is presumed that marriage is motivated by love. However, this is not the case with Helen and Peter. When Jo asks her mother, why she is marrying Peter Helen's response is somewhat unconventional

"He's got a wallet full of reasons"

This feeling in Helen and Peter's relationship is mutual as Peter only marries Helen as he is physically attracted to her. Another aspect of love which is portrayed is adultery. 

It is said throughout the play that the reason Helen is a single parent is because she committed adultery in her first marriage. Helen 's desire for sex, lead to the failure of her marriage and an illegitimate child :

“…she had me by an Irishman - the village idiot from what I can make out." "...A frolic in a hay loft one afternoon. You see her husband thought sex was dirty, and only used the bed for sleeping in. So, she took to herself an idiot.”

Helen also refers to the affair:

"How was I to know you’ d materialise out of a little love affair that lasted five minutes?" The theme of love and particularly infidelity interests a contemporary audience, as both themes are still relevant to our society. The theme of love is universal and unites an audience world wide, of any age. A contemporary audience can relate to the theme of love and this is a particularly effective as it enables the audience to connect to the characters and plot. Within the text, we can undoubtedly see that racism was a key issue within society in 1950s Britain:

“JO: My baby will be black
HELEN: Oh don’t be so silly, Jo. You’ll be giving yourself nightmares.”

This quotation shows the prejudice that individuals had towards black people and the disgust that they felt towards mixed race relationships in the 1950s. Helen is revolted at the thought of having a black grandchild, so much so, that she suggests that Jo should drown the baby:

“I don’t know. Drown it.”

Society has moved forward from the intense racist attitudes that people had in Britain in the post war period, however, the views that the play portrays connects with the audience, as racism towards other ethnic minority groups is still ubiquitous within our culture. The relationship between Helen and Jo is often referred to as dysfunctional. Helen is a single parent who struggles to bring up her only daughter due to her own selfish behavior. Helen puts herself...
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