The play, Blood Brothers written by Willy Russell was set in Liverpool, Liverpool had been home to one of the highest levels of unemployment within the developed world. The play was set in the 1960’s. Russell wrote it at this time because there was low morale and a lot of unemployment. Willy Russell set it at that time because there was a big difference between upper class and the working class. This affects our reading of the play because we feel sorry for the Johnstone family.
We feel sorry for mrs Johnstone because she is struggling to keep up with payments for basic needs. At the beginning of the play we are introduced to the character Mrs Johnstone. “She is aged thirty but looks more like fifty” This illustrates how difficult her life has been. Immediately we, the audience feel sympathy for her. In the song ” Marilyn Monroe” we see how her life was when she young. We realise she has been abandoned by her husband and sympathise that she has, “seven hungry mouths to feed” and no support from anyone.Order now
She is struggling to keep up with payments for basic needs such as milk, we feel sorry for her because the milk man is stubborn and arrogant, we see this when he says “no money, no milk” This shows us that the milk man has no sympathy and is not being very understanding towards Mrs Johnstone’s situation. To earn some money Mrs Johnstone the house of Mrs Lyons, she is so desperate to keep the job she makes commitments and says things such as “I wont even need to take one day off, I love this job” She is just managing to scrape by now that she has the job, this shows that the job means everything to her and she cant afford to lose it.
During the “fun song” Mrs Johnstone acquires a mop and bucket, this shows how her ‘boring’ job has changed her life. In the play we see that Mrs Johnstones life totally contrasts with Mrs Lyons’ life, we see this in many different ways during the play, one way is when Mrs Lyons walks through the door with a package in hand, Mrs Lyons walking through the door with a a package highlights the fact that she can afford to buy packages where as Mrs Johnstone can’t afford to treat herself or her kids for that matter and struggles to pay for the basics.
One of the other ways their lives contrast is when Mrs Johnstone comments on Mrs Lyons’ large house, this is one of the only ways Mrs Johnstone can get anywhere near such a house, we see this when Mrs Johnstone say “It’s a great job, It’s such a lovely house, it’s a pleasure to clean it” The shows us that she like cleaning the house not only for the money but to be able to be in a large house full of wealth and nicely decorated.
Mrs Johnstone is a very religious person and Mrs Lyons uses this in many ways to weaken Mrs Johnstone. An example of Mrs Johnstone being weakened and manipulated is Mrs Lyons saying “with two more children how can you possibly avoid some of them going into care? ” This weakens Mrs Johnstone because it makes her think and she might get very upset about the thought of loosing one of her own children.
Mrs Johnstone gets blacked mailed by Mrs Lyons about the welfare of the children, we see this when Mrs Johnstone announces that she will be having twins, Mrs Lyons says “Your already being chased by the welfare people” this would make Mrs Johnstone think about what she is going to do, Mrs Lyons takes advantage of this situation and quickly says “surely its better if you gave on child to me, at least if the child was with me you could see it every day, as you came to work” this could put Mrs Johnstone on the spot and make a quick decision.
Mrs Lyons makes Mrs Johnstone swear on the bible because she is very religious and wouldn’t change her mind. Mrs Lyons uses the fact that Mrs Johnstone is religious to weaken her, because Mrs Johnstone swore on the bible to give one of he twins to Mrs Lyons, Mrs Lyons says “they say if either twin learns that they once were a pair, they shall both immediately die. ” She says this so that Mrs Johnstone would not tell the twins that they are twins because she would be scared of loosing the twins.
Mrs Lyons comes to a conclusion of sacking Mrs Johnstone, She does this because she it frightened of Mrs Johnstone becoming too attached to Edward. We are introduced to Mickey during a song, he is banging on his own door after his mother, Mrs Johnstone, had locked herself in the house during the song. We are told this when the narrator says ” during the song Mrs Johnstone has gone to her house and locked herself in” she does this because the song is going on about “the devil” and the rent man is after her for her rent. Mrs Johnstone finally realises that it is not the rent man knocking on the door but her son, Mickey.
We recognise this when Mickey says “mother … will you open the bleedin’ door or what? ” He says this because Mrs Johnstone is not aware of his presence and thinks it’s the rent man, after she realises it is Mickey, she opens the door, grabs Mickey and hugs him, Mickey then says to her “why was the door bolted? Did you think it was the rent man? ” Mrs Johnstone then laughs and looks at him, she does this to try and hide the fact that she is afraid of the rent man coming after her, it is obvious that Mickey is used to the rent man coming around.
During the play, Russell uses the dramatic device of humour to show the contrast in Mickey and Edwards lives. We see this when Mickey says to Edward “if our Sammy gives y’ a sweet he’s usually wee’d on it first” we see it here because that is how Mickeys lifestyle is where as Edward has a very high quality lifestyle. There is a large difference between the use of language between Mickey and Edward, this is because Mickey has been brought up around a family that is struggling with most payments where as Edward has been brought up with good education.
We see this when Mickey says to Edward “do you know the ‘F’ word? ” Edward is puzzled and says “pardon? ” this shows that Edward doesn’t know any ‘naughty’ words where as Mickey knows just about every bad word in the book. The difference in the quality of language between the two also shows the difference in the quality of education they have had, we see this quite a lot through out the play because Mickey will use slang, this shows a poor quality of education where as Edward uses a quality of language which is very formal, this shows he has gone to a very good school or possibly even private school.
We see Mickey using ‘slang’ most of the way through play, an example of this is when he says “cos me mam says” where as Edward would of said something along the lines of “because my mummy / mother says” this shows that Mickey is very informal in the use of his language.