Blood Brothers Themes

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Class and Money

Throughout the musical Blood Brothers, the theme of class and money plays a dominant role, controlling characters’ actions and determining their lives. This pattern begins when Mrs. Johnstone makes the fateful decision to give away one of her twin boys to her employer Mrs. Lyons. She does so not because she doesn’t want two babies, but because she simply can’t afford two extra mouths to feed. Thus the action that sets the entire narrative in motion in fact stems from the forces of class and money. The all-powerful nature of these ideas is then evident throughout the rest of the narrative as well, as Mickey and Edward’s lives diverge drastically due to their differing financial circumstances. Although linked by genetics and similar in temperament, the unknowing twin brothers have vastly contrasting lives. While Mickey spirals further and further into drugs, depression, and crime because of his poverty, Edward finds doors opened for him at every turn due to his wealth.

Although playwright Willy Russell takes care to emphasize that class and money are nearly unstoppable forces, he also makes sure to show all of the ways that they can be overcome. For example, the poor Mrs. Johnstone is a loving, caring, and grounded individual, while in contrast, the wealthy Mrs. Lyons is neurotic, unstable, and (eventually) evil. Mrs. Lyons may be upper-class and cultured, but it’s Mrs. Johnstone who becomes the moral centre of the play. Similarly the kinship among Edward, Mickey, and Linda shows how people can overcome the barriers of class. Although Mickey and Linda are poor and ignorant compared to the refined Edward, the three share a tight bond. In the end, however, their relationships are eventually torn apart by money and class—the same forces that they seemed to overcome. Ultimately Russell shows the cost of the economic realities of his society, and the terrible toll they take on individuals’ lives.

Nature vs. Nurture

On some level, the lives of Mickey and Edward seem almost like a science experiment: what will happen when two genetically similar boys are raised in vastly different circumstances? Is a person’s character determined more by their genetics, or by their upbringing? Throughout the play, Willy Russell illuminates the contrasts that stem from Mickey and Edward’s separate childhoods, and compares them with the similarities that the two share. Mickey, for instance, is rough, rebellious, and jaded from a young age. In contrast, Edward is intelligent but innocent, which is made clear by his generosity towards other children and his tendency to get himself in trouble by accident. The differences between the two boys are rooted in the fact that Mickey grew up in a rough and tumble neighborhood, while Edward came of age in the lap of luxury.

At the same time, however, the boys feel a kinship with each other, calling themselves “blood brothers” years before they know they are in fact related. Although they have many superficial differences, at core they are both loving, decent, and honest individuals, much like their mother,Mrs. Johnstone. Their similarities are further emphasized by the fact


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