Blood Brothers Essay
“Blood Brothers” is a play about two twins who are separated at birth, they do not only have different parents but have a whole different lifestyle. Eddie lives in a world of luxury and has opportunities to go to university and eventually owning his own business which is more than Mickey could have ever dreamed of. On the other hand Mickey is brought up in a working class family with no qualifications whatsoever, as soon as Mickey thinks he has finally settled down with a job he then finds himself fired and starts turning to crime.
Towards the end of the play the differences between Eddie and Mickey begin to show as friction is caused between them. They begin to turn against each other and Linda is stuck in the middle as she has feelings for both Eddie and Mickey, this is when the question is raised asking whether Linda and Eddie have been having an affair. This is then what sends Mickey off the rails and ends up being the cause of the Johnstone twin’s death as Mickey shot Eddie in a rage of anger over Linda. Tension is caused at the end of the play when Mrs Johnstone tells Mickey and Eddie that they are brothers as the audience already knew this they just wanted to know when and how this would be revealed to the twins.
Willy Russell wrote Blood Brothers to show how life was in Liverpool in 1980s and how being in a different class separated people. He also refers to the recession and how so many people lost their jobs and the only way for them to earn a living was to turn to crime like Mickey did as he needed money to support Linda and his child, Sammy did not help the situation as he was the one who had persuaded Mickey to earn money in that way.
The end of the story is revealed to the audience by the narrator at the very beginning of the play. This builds up tension because people know what is going to happen so they are waiting to find out how it happened and what led up to that scene. Another thing that adds tension to the play is how the narrator keeps on referring back to the devil “the devils got your number, y’know he’s gonna find y’. Y’know he’s right behind y.” Towards the end of the play the narrator says how close the devil is getting, the devil being the devil inside Mickey when he shoots Eddie down.
Mrs Johnstone sings a song about the price that she has to pay “Living on the never, never, constant as the changing weather never sure who’s at the door or the price I’ll have to pay” This song says that Mrs Johnstone has a price to pay, this could mean that she has to give up her baby in return for the money that Mrs Lyons gave her but the audience know that the price that she will have to pay is the guilt that she will suffer and that both her twins die. The constant weather indicates her life has been up and down like it’s raining when she is sad and sunny when she is happy and that everything changes as fast as the weather.
Secondly when she says that she is “living on the never, never, Constant as the changing weather never sure who’s at the door” this could refer to the people who came to knock on her door to take away her possessions and that living on the never, never could mean that she knows that nothing that she has will stay with her forever. Another thing that indicates this is that when she says “It’s alright lad … we’re used to it we were in the middle id our tea one night when they came for that table.” This means that she has had her belonging possessed before and because of this she doesn’t really mind when it happens again because it has happened so many times before.
Willy Russell has made the audience sympathize with Mrs Johnstone because she has been through a lot in her life. At the beginning of the play she tells us how she got to be in that position in that moment in time. Mrs Johnstone describes her marriage and says “that I was six weeks overdue” which makes the audience feel sorry for her. It also describes the place of marriage which was at the registry office. “We got married at the registry and had a do”. This suggests to us the audience that the wedding was nothing too fancy, not too expensive and that the marriage was sudden and unexpected. She got married because she was expecting a baby, in difficult, circumstances to get married in. Soon after the wedding Mrs Johnstone wanted to go out and enjoy herself like she had done before but her husband wouldn’t take her anywhere because he became very conscious of her appearance and felt embarrassed to be seen with her. This is evident due to the fact that she gained weight and now perceived herself to be “twice the size of Marilyn Monroe”. The audience feels sympathetic towards her because she has seven children and low self esteem. This is shown by the fact that she describes herself to look like she is forty two instead of twenty five. This shows the physical strain that Mrs. Johnston has gone through.
I understand why she gave her baby away to Mrs Lyons because Mrs Lyons emotionally manipulated Mrs Johnston in this terrible time she is going through. Mrs Lyons attempts to make Mrs Johnstone think positively by saying that “if he’s with me you’ll still be able to see him each day as you come to work” Mrs Lyons presents Mrs Johnstone with the idea that her son would have a much better life with herself “if he grew up here as our son… he could have everything”. However this is why she may have done this for the benefit of the baby because she felt that Mrs Lyons could provide for him much better than she ever could and she just wanted him to have a better life.
The purpose of the narrator is to explain some of the key action on stage. The narrator also involves the audience by asking them directly, to judge what they see. He reveals that the brothers die at the very start of the play and from then on he constantly reminds the audience of the twin’s fate. He presents the themes of fate, destiny and superstition throughout the play, but at the end he asks the audience to consider if it was social class rather than fate that caused the tragedy.
In the play the narrator constantly reminds Mrs Johnstone and Mrs Lyons about the devil “Y’know the devils got your number, y’know he’s gonna find y’, y’know he’s right behind y’, he’s starin through your windows and he’s creeping down the hall.” This makes the audience realise that when the narrator refers to the devil he means the devil that is going to cause the death of the twins at the end of the play this makes the audience anxious as to when this is all going to happen.
In this play Mickey, Eddie, Linda, and Sammy play all sorts of games, I think that the games that they play influence them when they are older for example they play with pretend guns and Sammy says “It only fires caps. I’m gonna get a real gun soon, I’m gonna get an air gun” This later becomes true as Sammy does get a real gun which is then used to kill someone; both Mickey and Sammy were arrested for this. The arrest is also relevant as the children used to play cops and robbers. “Come on Eddie, you can have a shot at our target in the park.”This is relevant because Mickey and Eddie practised shooting and in the end Mickey shoots Eddie so the shooting practise came in handy.
I think the strongest child was Linda because she stuck up for Mickey no matter what; she stuck up for him when he was getting told of by the teachers and she was able to have the courage to lie to a police officer.
Superstition is a big theme in the play and Mrs Johnstone is shown to be superstitious right at the beginning of the play. “New shoes on the table. Take them off…”.The new shoes on the table could result in the birth of the twins. “Plural, Mrs Johnstone, mouths to feed, you’re expecting twins.” The narrator uses superstition during the play to imply the loss of money or precious things. “An’ a spider’s been killed.” A main part in the play is when Mrs Lyons uses Mrs Johnston’s superstitions to stop her from telling Eddie and Mickey that they actually brothers “They say that if either twin learns that he once was a pair, they shall both immediately die.” As Mrs Johnstone is very superstitious she believed every word Mrs Lyons says to her. This superstition later becomes true, as at the end of the play the only reason why the gun got fired was because Mrs Johnstone told the boys that they were actually brothers as she thought that it would stop Mickey from shooing Eddie but in the end although it may have been an accident Mickey still fired the gun either over anger or rage over Linda or pure shock to find out that he was a twin. The narrator finishes his speech with the idea of superstitions and whether they are the cause of the traumatic story line and ending. “And do we blame superstition for what came to pass.”
The first sign of tension is when he kids grow up and Sammy causes trouble on the bus as he gets a knife out and starts threatening the conductor to give the bag with all of the fair money in just because he wouldn’t give Sammy a ticket “Fuck off, now move, you move! Give me the bag” This creates tension because nobody has ever seen that side of Sammy before and even Mickey gets scared and tries to stop him from getting into to deeper trouble “Sammy, Sammy!” The repetition means that Mickey is really worried and wants to get Sammy’s attention.
When both Sammy and Mickey are both fired tension is created when Sammy asks Mickey to help him out with a job, Sammy then produces a gun and says they will go and hold someone up for some money. Mickey is reluctant at first, but wants to be able to buy Linda something nice, and agrees to stand guard. The audience want Mickey to be able to say no to Sammy because they know that it probably won’t end well, because they know that Mickey wants to be able to provide for Linda and his child but he won’t be able to do that behind bars. Meanwhile all this is happening at exactly the same time Edward meets up with Linda, proclaiming his love for her. She explains she has always loved him in a way, but she is now married to Mickey, and very much in love. Willy Russell shows them talking at the same time so the audience can compare what both Linda and Mickey are saying, Mickey gave into temptation and was willing to help Sammy with a job for money whilst Linda had Eddie declaring his love for her but Linda was strong enough to say no because she couldn’t do that to Mickey.
At the beginning of the play Mickey and Eddie had a very strong friendship and cared and looked out for each other, when one was sad the other asked why and wanted to help “Mickey what’s wrong?” Eddie saw that Mickey was upset so he wanted to know if there was anything he could do to help. “I Thought we were blood brothers” this shows that they were once very close and being blood brothers meant that they always stuck together.
As the play went on and the kids grew up into adults the relationship between Mickey and Eddie had changed. Before they were best friends, which had then changed into a university kid and an unemployed man who had nothing to say to each other. When Eddie announced that he had everything he had ever wanted and offered to give Mickey money, Mickey’s jealousy got the better of him “You, you’re a dickhead”. This indicates that Mickey is angry at Eddie because he has everything including all the money in the world whilst Mickey had no job, no money and hated the thought that his old best friend had everything he didn’t have.
Right at the start of the play everyone saw how close Mickey and Linda were but when Mickey was in jail it not only changed him, but it changed his mental health as he became attached to drugs and became insane and mad. “He said about, about me nerves, an how I get depresses an, I need to take these cos they make me better.” But when Mickey did use these drugs it might have made him feel better but it put a strain on his and Linda’s relationship as they argued all the time which then resulted to Linda turning to Eddie for comfort and supposedly romance.
Willy Russell uses ellipses to show pauses or that t he character is being hesitant in sentences to create tension and also to make the reader hang on to the speakers words and waiting for the next instalment.
In the final moments of the feel tense as Mickey is running round the town with a gun searching for Eddie and everyone is wondering if he actually will shoot his brother or if he will just threaten him. The confrontation between Eddie and Mickey is very dramatic as Mickey is shouting out the odds and Eddie is denying everything. Then the police come in demanding that Mickey puts down the gun down then when he starts to realise what he is doing he begins to lower the gun, then when Mrs Johnstone comes and announces that they are twin brothers “Mickey don’t shoot Eddie, he’s your brother, I couldn’t afford to keep both of you. His mother couldn’t have kids so I agreed to give one of you away.” Mickey despairs that he was not the one given away, because then he could have had the life given to Eddie. Mickey, distraught, gestures carelessly with the gun towards Eddie. This sad story ends when the police misinterpret this action and gun Mickey down as he accidentally shoots Eddie, killing him.
I think Blood Brothers the musical is a fantastic play, I especially love the way that each song has a meaning and the emotions of the characters in the lyrics. But I thought the end was good as you would have never thought that Mickey would kill Eddie. How the play was set for the narrator to have told the end of the story and the beginning of the play created more and more tension as the play went. I liked the fact that Willy Russell was influenced by Liverpool in 1983, only some of the characters had a Liverpool accent these were Mickey, Sammy, Linda, and Mrs Johnstone these were all the people in lower class and the ones who didn’t have an accent were Eddie, Mrs Lyons and Mr Lyons as they were very well spoken and in upper class. I learnt how social class can get in the way of you want to be friends with because their parents might not approve of you.
I think the play might still have a relevance for a modern day audience as some people still rely on their class to get things, for example if Mrs Lyons wasn’t in upper class then Mrs Johnstone would have been able to stand up to her because she wouldn’t have thought that she was so high up. This can make modern day audiences change their mind and know that the times have changed so they can be friends with whoever they want to be. Another thing that the audience would see is how Mrs Lyons gave Mrs Johnstone money for her baby and that still happens today, so they can see that if someone does give their baby away to someone for money then it might not always end in happiness.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 20 November 2016
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