The Significance of Act 1 Scene 1 in A Taste of Honey in Establishing the Relationship Between the Main Characters and the Social Context of the Play

The Significance of Act 1 Scene 1 in A Taste of Honey in Establishing the Relationship Between the Main Characters and the Social Context of the Play

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The Significance of Act 1 Scene 1 in A Taste of Honey in Establishing the Relationship Between the Main Characters and the Social Context of the Play

In my opinion Act 1 Scene 1 is the most important scene of the play
because straight away we find out that Helen is a "semi-whore". We
also see the beginning of a strange mother-daughter relationship. As
soon as we read the first page we find out the setting and the time of
the play. The time of the play is very important because of the social
issues such as Helen being a single mum and a "semi-whore", also the
issues of gay and black people, who appear later on in the play.

At the very beginning of the play we find out what Helen does for a
living, we know this, because it is mentioned in the stage directions.
It is also mentioned when Jo says "And we're supposed to be living off
her immoral earnings." I don't think Jo likes the way Helen makes her
money. From this we get the idea that they are poor and always need a
bit of money. As a result of Helens "immoral earnings" she's always
running away from something, for example old boyfriends and looking
for something new. At this point in the play we see she is bored "Well
it's one way of passing time while I'm waiting for something to turn"
When she says, "turn up" I think she means a man to care and spend
time and money on her.

I will now talk about Helen and her relationship with Jo. Helen is
supposed to be Jo's mum but she's always putting her down instead of
supporting her. There was one part in the play when she's being kind
towards Jo and her paintings, but she couldn't help being nasty, "I
think I will hang this on the wall somewhere, now where will it be
less noticeable?" When I first started to read this sentence I thought
she might be starting to change, but it didn't last long, as she soon

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went back to her usual old self. I personally feel really sorry for
Jo, as it can knock someone's confidence and a lot more, when there is
someone always being negative around you, especially when it's your
mum. Helen is also really irresponsible, as later in the play she
leaves Jo to fend for herself to go live with Peter who appears later
in the scene. Helen is also an alcoholic and spends the little money
they have on alcohol. Peter also ends up being an alcoholic, which is
one of the reasons why he goes off with another woman, therefore
forcing Helen to go back to Jo.

In Act 1 Scene 1 Jo is very self absorbed, I think she is like this
because she can't talk to Helen about her problems and worries. When
Jo meets "boy" she is very pleased and starts to become a happier
person who appreciates life more. Being with "boy" is one of Jo's
"tastes of honey" as she has so much fun with him and thinks that he
really loves her for her and loses her virginity to him. He also gave
her the love and affection that she wants from her mum. As well as Jo
thinking she loved "boy", I think he was also someone she could go to
if she wanted to escape Helen. Another one of Jo's "tastes of honey"
moments was being with Geoff. Geoff appears later on in the play and
looked after Jo while she was pregnant. He gave Jo a lot of care and
attention. Jo always knew that Geoff would not use her for sex like
"boy", as he was gay and a true friend. Again he treated Jo the way
she wanted Helen to treat her. We also find out about Jo's bulbs in
Act 1 Scene 1, she really wanted to care for them and for them to
last. "I hope they bloom" In my opinion Jo wanted to treat the bulbs
as she wanted to be treated. Jo obviously wanted love and attention
from Helen just like any daughter, we see this a lot in Act 1 Scene 1.
This is important in establishing the relationship between Helen and
Jo because throughout the play Jo seeks more love and care from her

In the opening scene Helen says "We all end up the same way sooner or
later" When Helen said this I think Jo was unsure. However, just as
she said they both ended up the same, as they both fell pregnant while
young and ended up alone.

A mother and daughter would usually have a lot of love and respect for
each other however Helen and Jo are an exception and I am now going to
talk bout why this might be. Helen and Jo don't have a normal
mother-daughter relationship as Jo calls her mum by her first name,
Helen; "You look very pale and sickly Helen" I think Jo calls her mum
Helen because neither of them have any respect for one another. I
don't think Jo likes the way she ahs been brought up. "I don't owe you
a thing", also when Jo says, "too many different schools, too many
different places". As Jo had to keep moving around and as Helen was
always meeting new men Jo's respect for Helen has decreased until
eventually there was none left. In one of the quotes "too many" is
repeated so it makes more of an impact on Helen and the audience.
Helen can also be quite nasty, "don't drink it, leave it, she always
does it strong because she knows I like it weak" In my opinion that
could really upset somebody, Helen also calls Jo "she" which is very
disrespectful. Helen and Jo both try to pull the audience onto their
side of an argument. When they do this they are directly addressing
the audience and bringing them into the drama.

Earlier I spoke about Peter, who we also meet in Act 1 Scene 1, he is
one of Helens many sexual partners. He was an ex, but returned to find
Helen. "I found it! Could you think you could escape me?" In my
opinion he only looked for Helen because their relationship was just
about sex and Peter knew what Helen was like. However Helen also knew
what Peter was like; young, single and wealthy. Jo becomes jealous of
Helen because she has so much fun with Peter. I believe Peter adds
humor to the play, as he is such a different character.

I will now talk about the playwright, Shelagh Delaney. I think she
chose to set the play in the 1950's (at time of writing) because of
the social issues of that time such as racism, homophobia and
attitudes towards single parents. In the 1950's white people thought
they were superior to black people and that they didn't deserve
anything. They were also against gay people and treated them as if
they had a disease. At the time many people were against sex before
marriage so it was even worse to have a baby out of marriage, which is
why people disapproved of single mothers. These are still,
sometimes-big things to happen now so they were even bigger things to
happen in the 1950's, especially for one girl to be involved in all in
all these issues. The play is an example of the 1950's and the 21st
century. I think other playwrights have chosen not to write about this
subject because it is so realistic and still true to this day and age.

In conclusion Act 1 Scene 1 is very significant as it sets the scene
for the rest of the play. It introduces the characters and gives us an
insight into Helen and Jo's relationship and lives. It is also
important because it gives us a better understanding of the social
issues in the 1950's as it shows the life of a single mother. My
personal opinion of the play is that it is really good and
interesting, but I thought the ending could have been better. I think
the ending could have been made more shocking. For example "boy" could
have returned to use Jo for sex and discovered she was pregnant. After
agreeing to stay he could have left in the night stealing money Helen
had given Jo. To me something like this would have made the ending a
lot more interesting and member able.
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