A Taste of Honey: dramatic climax

A Taste of Honey: dramatic climax

Play Overview

  • “A Taste of Honey” is a play written by Shelagh Delaney that conveys the harsh realities of life in 1950s Britain, particularly for women and the working class. The dramatic climax occurs towards the end of the play.
  • Remember that this climax mirrors the beginning of the play where Jo moves into an empty apartment with Helen. This creates a full circle effect and reinforces Delaney’s critique of the cyclical pattern of poverty and neglect.
  • Note that the climax is handled without melodrama even though it involves potential explosive elements like pregnancy, homophobia, and neglect. This is in line with Delaney’s realistic, unflinchingly frank exploration of post-war working-class lives.

The Climax’s Setting and Characters

  • The climax is typified by the return of Helen to the apartment where she finds Jo, now heavily pregnant and living with Geoff, an openly gay man. The dynamic between Jo, Helen and Geoff creates sharp tension.
  • The climax reveals crucial aspects of all three characters—Helen’s self-centeredness juxtaposed with a hint of maternal care, Jo’s stoic independence and stubbornness, and Geoff’s misunderstood longing for a sense of belonging.

Conflict and Tension in the Climax

  • The climax intensifies when Helen offers to take care of Jo, which is contradictory to her prior neglectful attitude. This unexpected shift demonstrates Helen’s layer of maternal instinct despite her otherwise self-involved character.
  • Meanwhile, Geoff’s attempt to form a non-traditional family is stifled when he is unceremoniously sent away by Helen, representing a poignant instance of societal homophobia and binary views on family structures.
  • Jo’s uncaring response when Geoff leaves exemplifies her gritty resilience and pragmatism, but also her detachment from emotions, a consequences of her neglected upbringing.

The Emotional Impact of the Climax

  • Jo’s despair is amplified when she’s alone in the dark, singing a nursery rhyme. This solemn act underlines her loneliness and uncertainty, while also highlighting the cyclical nature of poor parenting, a repeated motif in the play.