“Blood Brothers” by Willy Russell Essay Sample
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- Category: play
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“Blood Brothers” by Willy Russell Essay Sample
The play is written by Willy Russell, who is born just outside Liverpool, and that’s also where the story takes place. Willy Russell grows up in a working-class environment, where he is, due to the school system of his time where the students are put in the different classes by streaming, placed in the lowest level of the classes, because his parents are unskilled-labours.
He leaves school with an English Language O level as his only qualification to work for six years as a hairdresser. Later he returns to school to take supplementary training at an evening class in English Literature. After this he begins writing.
Willy Russell’s huge theatrical success has been Blood Brothers; a Liverpudlian folk opera about a pair of twins who is separated at birth and brought up in completely different environments. One of the twins grows up in a middle class house hold, and the other one in a working class house hold. The differences in which they grow up are clearly shown. The play examines the issue of social differences in Britain, how life is quite more difficult for the working class environment than for the upper middle class.
Mrs. Johnston is a mother with seven children just trying to get by, one day at the time. After her husband leaves her, she has to take care of the all children herself with her only own job as Mrs. Lyons’ maid. After working for Mrs. Lyons for a while, Mrs. Johnson finds out that she is pregnant again.
Mrs. Johnston is still very poor so she knows that she can’t afford to raise both of them.
Since Mrs. Lyons can’t have a child with her husband, Mrs. Johnston, after pressure of Mrs. Lyons, decides to do the logical thing: give one of the twins to Mrs. Lyons. Mrs. Johnston gets the twin later known as Mickey, and Mrs. Lyons gets the twin later known as Edward.
With outrageous superstition, Mrs. Lyons forbids them from ever seeing each other because if they do, it will lead to their respective demises.
At the beginning of the play the narrator describes the mother, Mrs. Johnston, as a cold, cruel and unfeeling woman. Afterwards when the reader’s knowledge of the story is improved, the reader realizes that the mother is just trying to take care of the children. As the breadwinner and only parent of family the mother can’t afford booth children. This depicts the usually situation of how poor people often end up as fault persons, even though they just try to take care of their family.
The mother’s way to upbraid her children tells the reader how the unskilled-labours are treated. The mother never explains her orders to her children; she simply expects them to follow her rules without questioning them.
In the end of the story Linda is quite like the mother because she acts the same way as Mrs. Johnston did in the beginning of the story, meaning that Linda starts to go out dancing just like Mrs. Johnston did when she med her former husband. It isn’t written in the play, but probably Linda is Mickey unfaithful with Eddie. This suspicion relies on the part of the play, where Mickey asks Linda about her relationship to Eddie.
Opposite to Linda and the mother, Mrs. Lyons has plenty of money. She belongs to the upper middle class; and this is shown in her language, where she speaks RP English. She is a selfish and self-centred person, who isn’t afraid of exploiting other persons if it helps her out of her situation. The only problems Mrs. Lyons has are those she makes up herself.
The story probably takes place in Liverpool, but it could take place any other place in England. In the beginning, the story takes place in the 1960s and in the end the 1990s. There are two out pointed environments in the story. There is a working-class environment and an upper-middle-class environment. That is seen by the way the main-characters speak. The Mother is from the working-class. She speaks idiomatic and with a sociolect.
Mrs. Lyons is from the upper-middle-class society. This is also seen by the way she speaks. She speaks R.P. English, grammatically correct and with no sociolect, but on the other hand she speaks with a dialect.
There are a few flashbacks in the story. In the beginning of the story the Mother sings when she was young, she went dancing all the time with her husband, and she was so pretty. But now she has turned 30 but she looks as she was 60. Now she has 7 children and no husband anymore.
The frame is quite visible. When Mrs. Lyons “adopts” Eddie she tells the Mother that the twins will die if they ever get to know the truth about them. The Mother does everything she can to keep the twins apart and so does Mrs. Lyons, but in the end of the story the twins get to know the truth about them and they die because Mrs. Lyons shoots them.
The role of the narrator is that the narrator tells what happens and what will happen in the story. He speaks idiomatic and that gives us a hint about where the story generally takes place; in a working-class-non-educated society.
Mickey is from the working-class. His vocabulary is limited. It means he is non-educated, because he has never heard of a dictionary and therefore he doesn’t know many words except the words he always uses. He also swears and that doesn’t belong in an upper-middle-class. He also has to work very hard to get through life, unlike Eddie, who is from the upper-middle-class. He is generous and he has a great vocabulary, so he knows many words, which Mickey doesn’t know. Eddie is well-educated and has good manners. Eddie doesn’t have to work hard to get through life because he has inherited his fathers firm and has become the director. Eddie’s language is well. He doesn’t swear and he speaks R.P English.
There are many themes in this story, for example the theme: Rich and Pour, where Eddie and his family are the rich ones, and Mickey and his family are the pour ones. There’s a big difference in how the boys live and what they have turned out to be, and how their personality is. Eddie, who has lived his whole live with dictionaries around him, and money enough to buy everything he needs, has a very fine and elaborating language. He had never heard slang words or swearwords until he met Mickey. Mickey, who doesn’t know what a dictionary is, comes from a very pour family who can’t afford a fraction of what Eddie’s family can. For example food; Mickey’s family barely have money to buy food. Mickey’s language is the opposite of Eddie’s. He uses a lot of slang words and swears all the time. He has a very restricted language. But Mickey and Eddie don’t care about their distinct backgrounds, and get along very well. Another theme in this story is superstition. There’s a lot of old proverbs and superstition in the story, for example; in the beginning of the story when Mrs. Lyons says that if two twins, who were separated at birth, finds out that he was one of a pair, they would booth die immediately. Mrs. Johnston who’s very superstitious believes it. Maybe there’s something to the superstition, because in the end, when the twins finds out that they are related they die.
The way we interpret the story, is the message a little bit like the “Jantelov”. Don’t think you are better than other people just because you are rich and have money. Everybody is equal, and should be treated the same way. Mrs. Lyons who is from the upper middleclass society thinks she’s better than Mrs. Johnston who’s from the working-class. Mrs. Lyons looks down at Mrs. Johnston and feels superior.
In the beginning of the story Eddie and Mickey are above their social classes; they don’t care about witch class they are from; they just want to have fun and enjoy their lives.
Today most people are not superstitious, so if the story took place now in the year 2007, then Mrs. Johnston wouldn’t have believed in the old saying about twins who where separated at birth. She might have turned to the authorities, and would have got her baby back.
And if the story took place today, a woman who’s alone and is pregnant would get supplementary benefit, and then she wouldn’t have to give up her baby. So if the story took place today, it would have taken another angle.
If the story was staged in Denmark, then we couldn’t tell the difference between the language that Eddie and his family use, and the language that Mickey and his family use. Then we couldn’t tell if a person comes from a rich family or a pour family, because in Denmark we have different dialects all over the country, and there’s no dialect that’s more posh or better than an other.
In Denmark everybody has a chance of getting a good education. That’s because there isn’t any streaming in the schools here. If Mrs. Johnston lived here in Denmark, she would have went in a school where she was equal with all the other kids, and had a chance of becoming what she wanted. Then she could have got a better education, and thereby a better job and then she could earn more money, so she didn’t have to give up her baby. So we can conclude that the story couldn’t take place here in Denmark.