A Taste of Honey: language

A Taste of Honey: language

Language Use in “A Taste of Honey”

  • “A Taste of Honey” uses naturalist language, aiming to mirror real-life speech as closely as possible. This use of natural language contrasts with the heightened, stylised language often seen in theatre of the period.
  • The play is rich with colloquialisms and dialect from Northern England, embodying the characters’ class and regional identities. For instance, Jo uses phrases such as ‘I bet’ and ‘I’m not half!’, rooting her as an authentic working-class Mancunian.
  • Characters often use wit and humour amidst serious discussions, reflecting their resilience and humour despite their hardships. Helen’s dark humour, evident when she quips, “I’m thinking of giving birth to a gorilla if this is all the excitement I can expect”, is an example.

Dialogue and Monologue in “A Taste of Honey”

  • Dialogue is a vital tool for revealing the characters’ attitudes and emotions. Helen’s corrosive sarcasm provides a glimpse into her bitterness and dissatisfaction with her life.
  • Monologues let the characters voice their innermost thoughts and deeper feelings, aiding in revealing their motivations and furthering character development. Jo’s monologue about her affection for Jimmie offers a deeper understanding of her character and aspirations.

Theme Exploration and Dramatic Techniques in “A Taste of Honey”

  • The play delves into themes of class, race, and gender via its language. The prevalent working-class slang and Helen’s biassed remarks about Africans lay bare the societal norms and attitudes of 1950s Britain.
  • Shelagh Delaney, the playwright, uses non-standard English, including grammatical errors in character dialogue, to enhance the authenticity of these working-class characters.
  • Abundant use of dramatic irony maintains audience engagement and raises tension. One example of this is when Jo is unaware of Geoff’s homosexuality, yet the audience knows about it.

Use of Silence in “A Taste of Honey”

  • Silence is utilised as a powerful tool in ‘A Taste of Honey’. Silent moments accentuate tension and can communicate more than dialogue at times, revealing characters’ emotions and intentions. For instance, Helen’s silence after learning about Jo’s pregnancy is a clear display of her shock and disappointment.