Willy Russell explores how class can make a big difference to society and people’s lives in the play Blood Brothers. Blood Brothers is set in Liverpool during the 1980’s. During the 20th century unemployment and poverty was high which lead to a massive gap between the rich and poor. Willy Russell can relate to this as he himself was born outside of Liverpool and was of the working class. The class divide also meant the education of children would suffer as grammar schools were free however the working class must past the lit to gain entry. The pass mask was deliberately made high so the working class cannot go grammar school.
This maintains the social system. I will explore in this essay the characters actions, dramatic techniques structure and context through social class and injustice. Willy Russell shows the divisions of society in many different ways. Firstly he starts with Mrs Johnstone. She is quite poor and works for Mrs Lyons. The theme superstition implies that something bad will happen for example there might be a loss. Nothing will ever change what would happen. At times when superstition is used a bad feeling or threatening feeling is left which creates tension. Mrs Lyons uses this to persuade Mrs Johnstone to give her one of the children.
Mrs Johnstone is clearly superstitious, shown by her reaction to Mrs Lyons placing some shoes on the table. “New shoes on the table, take them off… ” so she is basically telling Mrs Lyons to take them off the table as this might cause a bad thing to happen. Mrs Johnstone again mentions “you never know what’ll happen” this shows that she is of different class to Mrs Lyons as Mrs Johnstone is financial insecure and believes money will solve all her problems. However as Mrs Johnstone is less financial developed it would make her more superstitious because she might not be able to afford a terrible incidence if money is involved.
Mrs Lyons questions Mrs Johnstone about her superstition but Mrs Johnstone denies it. Mrs Lyons knows that Mrs Johnstone is superstitious and uses this to her advantage and persuades Mrs Johnstone to give her one of her children. Mrs Lyons is a clever character and deviously uses Mrs Johnstone’s beliefs to persuade her to give her the child. Mrs Lyons also uses the bible for Mrs Johnstone to swear on so that she doesn’t change her mind. “Mrs Lyons shows the bible to Mrs Johnstone” Superstition was one of the main themes in “Blood brothers”.
It helps to show the division between rich and poor. It also helps see the differences between, Mrs Johnstone who is very superstitious and of a lower class where as Mrs Lyons is of a higher class. The superstition helps to show the class divide in these two women as Mrs Johnstone has a large amount of debt and has a large family to support and she is struggling to support them. For this reason Mrs Johnstone would be concerned about any bad luck which could seriously damage her and her family. Mrs Lyons, however, has no need to be superstitious, as she is much more financially secure.
The play also shows that superstition can govern lives and in the case of Mrs Johnstone her life is governed by superstition. The narrator also plays a part in the theme of superstition. During Act one the narrator is singing “shoes upon the table an’ a spiders been killed” this emphasizes that superstition is going to cause something bad. This shows the division in society in “blood brothers” as Mrs Johnstone would worry about this but Mrs Lyons would just believe that money would solve everything. The narrator creates more dramatic tension when he talks about superstition.
He also talks about the devil “Now y’ know the devil’s got your number” this would create tension and especially frighten the audience. Russell uses the narrator as a characters conscience to create more of an effect. This has been shown when the play is acted as the narrator goes right up to each different characters as a shadow of themselves. The narrator is also there to emphasise the importance of what has happened and how it will affect the rest of the play. This gives the audience the idea that if something one character has done could affect what happens to another character.
Another theme that affects the division of society is the language used. Mrs Lyons and her family have an upper class accent and Eddie has a more advanced vocabulary compared with Mickey, the Johnstone’s however have a Liverpudlian accent and use slang words such as “y’ know”. It is noticed more when Mickey and Edward first meet. Mickey calls his mother “mam” but Edward calls his mother “mummy” so already the difference in society is noticed by the actions of children. There are many different words used in “blood brothers” that separate society and each character reflects the language depending on their class.
The theme that money cannot buy happiness is shown in these childhood scenes. The difference in society also appears when Edward mentions a dictionary and Mickey is unaware of what it is “When I get home I’ll look it up in the dictionary”. Edward’s reference to an object which would most often be associated with older people even when he is talking to another boy his own age shows that he has had more opportunities early in life mostly in education.. Mickey is clearly less concerned with his education. The evidence for this is “It’s a, thingy innit? ” here the different types of language are also shown.
This explains that the different types of language used and the advantages of education can also divide society. Mickey calls Edward “Eddie”, this suggest that he is poor because Mickey is the only one who calls Edward “Eddie” “D’ they call y’ Eddie? ” “No”. So this proves that most of the people that Edward knows mainly his parents call him Edward. The law has a different view on the upper and lower class. When Mickey, Edward and Linda are throwing stones at windows, Eddie is told by Linda and Mickey that if they are caught to say “Waiting for the ninety two bus”.
When this happens and Eddie is rude to the policeman he is not punished very much. In fact the punishment given to the two boys is very different. Mickey is returned to his mother with the Policeman telling her how naughty Mickey has been, supposedly so that she will punish him. He also insults them many times. However when Eddie is taken to his parents the policeman states that “it was more of a prank” and his parents are told to “just dock his pocket money”. Even the fact that Edward gets pocket money suggests that he is of the upper class.
He also says that it was Mickey’s bad influence that prompted Eddie to commit the crime “I’m not sure I’d let him mix with the likes of them in future” so this shows that the authority don’t think much of the lower class and the policeman’s actions clearly show this. The policeman treats Mrs Johnstone as if she has no rights and acts like he is above her or is better than her, showing his disrespect for her. However, it is noticeable that the policeman is not concerned with informing the Lyons of Edwards actions but more interested about making himself look good in front of someone who is of higher class than himself.