Blood Brothers by Willy Russell is a common well known play, acted in many places. In this play, there are many themes which Russell wants us to think about, such as superstition, class status, poverty and motherhood. Motherhood plays a huge role in this play as it starts form the beginning and continues towards the end. This play is about two twins who were separated at birth, and Mrs Johnstone being able to cope with her eight children, Mrs Lyons and the fact that she has a secret of the past, which stays with her throughout the play.
This essay will be focusing on Mrs Lyons and Mrs Johnstone and how their relationships and attitudes towards each other are developed and how the secret of separation affected the role of motherhood. In the 1960s, Liverpool became known all over the world as the home of the Mersey Beat. This was one of the most extensive range of talent in any modern city. Russell sets ‘Blood Brothers’ in 1960s Liverpool and the audience sees the two brothers grow up through 1970s Liverpool, a time of massive re-development and high unemployment. The two women show the audience different attitudes to motherhood, social class, poverty and superstition.
Mrs Johnstone is the main character in the play; she has nine children, one in which is given away. Mrs Johnstone’s husband has left her and she has to live in poverty and the lack of normal necessities. Mrs Johnstone was in desperate need of money and finds a job as being a cleaner at a wealthy household of Mr and Mrs Lyons, wee know that Mrs Lyons is wealthy because she says that ‘its so big’, meaning that her house is big and that Mrs Johnstone has to clean the ‘big’ house to earn money. Here the relationship between Mrs Johnstone and Mrs Lyons is quite normal, and it seems that nothing is going to go wrong.
However Mrs Lyons attitude changes when she finds out that her cleaner is expecting twins, ‘Twins? You’re expecting twins?’, this is where Mrs Lyons motherhood act starts to show because she always wanted a child but couldn’t have one and she knows that Mrs Johnstone cannot cope. At the start of this section we discover that Mrs Johnstone is working for Mrs Lyons as a cleaner, it is clear that Mrs Johnstone likes Mrs Lyons and her job, ‘It’s such a lovely house it’s a pleasure to clean it’.
Mrs Lyons clearly likes her ‘pretty house’ but finds ‘rather large at present’, it is clear that she is lonely, partly because she has no children and because her husband is away, ‘he’ll be back in five months time’, it is also obvious that Mrs Johnstone and Mrs Lyons are quite friendly, they get along together, but sometimes lets slip her personal feelings, ‘we thought that children would come along’. As they talk, it is clear that they find it quite natural to have babies, ‘Having babies is like clockwork to me’; Mrs Johnstone is amazed that Mrs Lyons is not able to have children and Mr Lyons is against adoption.
At this point Mrs Johnstone’s attitude towards motherhood is quite natural; however tension is created here because the audience knows that acting natural means something negative is going to happen. When Mrs Lyons finds out about Mrs Johnstone having twins, she decides to have one of them straight away, ‘Give one to me’ she says, here we learn that Mrs Lyons is desperate and knows that Mrs Johnstone already has a handful of children.
At first Mrs Johnstone is reluctant about this idea, but after some thought and Mrs Lyons pushing positive ideas and trust into her thought, Mrs Johnstone agrees, but Mrs Lyons wants to make sure that Mrs Johnstone doesn’t change her mind and tells Mrs Johnstone that they should ‘make a binding agreement’, this shows her desperation and excitement in having her own child, but it also shows how serious she is about this plan and very cautious. This creates tension because we wonder if Mrs Johnstone is going to agree wit the pact.