Critical Evaluation of Shelagh Delaney’s A Taste of Honey

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1950s witnessed a drastic change in the history of British drama. The publication of John Osborne’s masterpiece, Look Back in Anger in 1956 radicalised the British theatre. The play was a blow against establishment. Osborne portrayed Jimmy Porter, the anti-hero of the play. He is frustrated and malcontent. He attacks the establishment in every sense. Following the success of this play, a generation of writers emerged who are labelled as “angry young men”, though they were not a unified group. This media-created uncommon group included John Osborne, Kinsgsley Amis, John Wain, Collin Wilson, Allan Sillitoe, John Arden, Arnold Wesker and Harold Pinter. Shelagh Delaney, after publication of her successful and rebelling play, A Taste of Honey (1956) had been included in this group but it may not be appropriate to stick the journalistic label “angry young men” to her because she differs from most of them and the label itself obviously implies its patriarchal nature. This “new wave” of British young playwrights had tried to radicalise not only themes but also structures and styles of their plays. Hostile to anything that was “high-brow”, these British playwrights were revolutionary in dealing with working class characters and themes. They rejected the style and subject of educated upper middle class. Expressing the discontent and frustration of the newly educated lower class, they were explicitly and intensely against establishment. Their plays were termed as “Kitchen-Sink” Drama. It was a term that gained popularity in Britain in the middle and late 1950s. The term refers to pays which were set in ordinary domestic settings. They depict lower strata of British society and their struggle to survive in post-war period. According to Collin’s Dictionary, it is a term which refers to a type of drama of the 1950s depicting sordid aspects of domestic reality.
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