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How Does Shelagh Delaney Present the Idea of Bleakness to the Audience in the Play ‘a Taste of Honey’?

  • Date Submitted: 09/01/2010 09:08 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 59.4 
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‘I did but taste a little honey with the end of the rod that was in mine hand, and, lo, I must die.’ This Bible quote from which Shelagh Delaney took the title of her play ‘A Taste of Honey’ suggests that one should have their time of happiness and then it will go, for happiness does not last a life time and must be balanced out by sadness and emotions that are less satisfactory. This attitude is very much reflected in the play with periods of optimism and bleakness running throughout, however the bleaker side of life very much dominates over the rare moments of optimism.
When we first meet the characters Jo and Helen we find them in their new flat in Salford the situation is not pleasant, the surroundings are incredibly dull and depressing, and they share the area with: ‘The slaughterhouse. Where all the cows, sheep and pigs go in and all the beef, pork and mutton comes out.’ A slaughterhouse gives the impression of death among the place, the animals go in alive, come out dead. This just adds to the bleakness of what is already dingy and grimy habitat, along with a pungent river that runs by the side which rather reflects their lives. This state in which they live in is also unpleasant regarding the interior, with free hanging light bulbs and Delaney does a very good job giving Helen a cold which makes the house seem a lot more damp and inhabitable:
‘This is the third hanky today. Jo: Tomorrow? What makes you think we’re going to live that long? The roof’s leaking!’

Having a cold is can be described as feeling ‘groggy’ and this is also a very apt word for the surroundings Helen and Jo find themselves in, so Delaney use of Helen’s cold is very effective when presenting the idea of bleakness to the audience.
Jo tries her hardest to lighten the mood; the oppressing dullness is not a surrounding she wants to be living in. They both know that these are not the ideal situation, but Jo takes matters in to her own hands and tries to improve the mood as best she...


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