A Life of Woman in England in the 1950's in Taste of Honey by Shelagh Delaney

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Shelagh Delaney’s, “A Taste of Honey”, is a great example of what life was like for women in England in the 1950’s. Women were not offered reliable jobs and were sometimes not treated well by men. “A Taste of Honey” exemplifies the weaknesses and the spirit of women in a poor and restless world. The play also depicts the lives of the working class British citizens. The main characters, Jo and Helen, are an image of the treatment of women in post-war Salford, England (Manchester).
After War World War II, most women lost their jobs because priority was given to war veterans. If women still held jobs they were not well paid. In the play, Helen, the mother, finds herself in desperation many times and offers her body for money. She insinuates prostitute behavior when she says, “I’m thinking of giving it up…Sex! Men!” This type of behavior in Helen is also seen when Jo says, “And we’re supposed to be living off her immoral earnings…” (Delaney,). This line proves that Helen makes a living and supports Jo by accepting money from her lovers. It is obvious that making money and supporting one’s family was difficult in this period of time. Women were seen as prostitutes or “semi-whores” sometimes, and this led to the degrading of women by men. This is probably why Helen’s lover, or boyfriend, Peter uses her and then leaves her. Then, again, Helen is attracted to Peter more for his money than actual love. Peter would sometimes verbally abuse Helen and Jo. In one scene of the play, he states, “I’m not having that bloody slut at our place. I’ll tell you that for nothing.” Alcohol also played a large role in the treatment of women from men. Helen and Peter’s relationship, apart from sex, was based on alcohol. In the play we see this when Pete...

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...(Coob). In the play, Helen did not fulfill any of these roles. She was a cold and uninvolved mother, she did not care much for the needs of her daughter and she never had a stable marriage. In turn, Jo is following the steps of her mother in assuming these roles. She rarely goes to the clinic to check on her pregnancy, Geoff does most of the homemaking and she seems to hate romantic love.
Nevertheless, I think this play does a great job at depicting the scene of the 1950’s. Women were beginning to find independence from men and were making a living for themselves, as did Jo.

Works Cited

Delaney, Shelagh. A Taste of Honey; a Play. New York: Grove, 1959. Print.

Phillips, Ella. "Themes and Issues - A Taste Of Honey by Shelagh Delaney." Prezi.com. N.p., 26 Nov. 2012. Web. 24 Mar. 2014.

Coob, Roobix. "A Woman's Role in the 1950's." N.p., 17 Nov. 2005. Web.

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