The setting and date are important to the story because in the early 1980’s unemployment rates in Liverpool were amongst the highest in the UK; an average of 12,000 people each year were leaving the city, because of the massive recession. In this time it was very hard for the uneducated people (working class people) to find a job. Russell decided to write Blood Brothers because he wanted to express his emotions towards the divide between the middle and the working class.
Russell believed that the class you belong to determines - to a large amount - your chances in life. In Blood Brothers, these differences are extreme, and Willy Russell describes them very dramatically. The position in the class society predicts the future of the unborn yet child and it draws the path of the life journey. Having an education is an advantage for those who can afford it; again something out of reach for those stuck in the working class society. Unfortunately, the working class during 1980’s had no opportunities and this led to criminal rate to increase.
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I can see the huge impact on that particular community because of the lack of proper education and strong family values. The two brothers, who were separated at birth, are in two opposite classes, Mickey in working class and Eddie in middle class. Russell uses juxtaposition to show, how two bothers from the same mother, can be so different just by growing up in a different class. The dialogue shows that Mickey is stereotypically working class. For example; ‘I’m pissed off… Yeh. Yeh, I know loads of words like that. Y’know, like the ‘F’ word. By shortening ‘yes’ to ‘yeh’ it shows he is talking in the colloquial Liverpudlian dialect.
The use of swear words show that he is from a working class background, because a child which is brought up in a middle class society wouldn’t use that type of language. However, on the other hand dialogue shows that Edward is stereotypically middle class; ‘Pissed off. You say smashing things don’t you? Do you know anymore words like that? ’ Eddie is confused about what Mickey is saying; he has never come across swear words.
By saying ‘Smashing’ this shows that Eddie is astonished by the words Mickey uses. This shows that his from a middle class background because, parents in the middle class tend to avoid their children, to have contact with swear words. This emphasises the difference between the boys. When Mickey and Eddie grow up Mickey turns out to be uneducated and jobless, in contrast, Eddie turns out to be a highly paid councillor. This suggests that the class you belong to determines your chances in life. Mickey and Edward are treated differently just because of the class they are in.
For example, when the police treat them differently; ‘And he was about to commit a serious crime, Love….. You don’t wanna end up in court again, do y’? ’ This shows that working class people are treated differently to middle class people. His speech shows he is stricter to working class people. On the other hand he approaches the middle class differently. ‘An’ er, as I say, it was more of a prank, really, Mr Lyons. I’d just dock his pocket money if I was you. ’ This shows the policeman isn’t as serious to Mr Lyons about the prank as he was towards Mrs Johnstone.
By saying ‘An and er’ shows he is nervous. ‘I’d just dock his pocket money’ shows he is not so serious about the situation. Russell showed the audience, that classes are treated differently by society just by the class you are in, because they suspect the working class always cause trouble. This links to the message saying that, being middle class is the key to success. Russell explores class and opportunities in his song ‘Easy Terms. ’
The song links to historical context of the play, because in the early 1980’s nemployment rates were amongst the highest, in Liverpool. ‘The price I’ll have to pay… Who’s at the door? ’ This shows Mrs Johnstone as a working class woman worrying about the problems she may encounter. The literal meaning of the song ‘Easy Terms’ is about Mrs Johnstone giving up Edward. ‘Only for a time, I must not learn to call you mine. ’ and ‘When I got me job, I though I could be able to pay. ’ The first quote shows that Mrs Johnstone is talking about, giving up Edward and that they were on easy terms with each other, before she gave him away.
In the second quote she is talking about recession and that the money she makes is not enough. Also by saying ‘me job’ shows she is talking in the colloquial dialect. The deeper meaning of the song ‘Easy Terms’ is that, life was easier before the recession. ‘Living on the never never. ’ This shows that Mrs Johnstone is not certain about what will happen and that she is living on the uncertainty. I believe that the song suggests that class and opportunities determine your chances in life. The narrator’s role in Blood Brothers is to describe and introduce characters.
Also the narrator is omniscient. The narrator’s black clothes are important, because his clothes show seriousness. The black clothes also foreshadow death. In the final scene he is dressed as if he was attending a funeral. The effects of the black clothes, tells us that something bad is going to happen. We get an impression from the narrator that something bad is going to happen. ‘The devil’s got your number… Y’know he’s right behind y’. ’ This suggests that the narrator is the devil as he is all-knowing so he is the mother’s conscience.
The narrator’s dialogue helps the audience to think about class and opportunity, about the opportunity to have and to dream for a better life. ‘And do we blame superstition for what come to pass? Or could it be what we, the English, have come to known as class? ’ The narrator is highlighting the central message of the play. This may suggest that the narrator represents Willy Russell. The rhyming couplets emphasise the central message of the musical. Parallel scenes show two separate scenes which occur at the same time on stage. ‘Edward: then marry me.
Linda: Didn’t Mickey tell y’? We got married…. Mickey: fifty notes? ’ This shows that several things are happening on stage. It also shows the class difference between Edward, Mickey and Linda. It also shows the way Linda, speaks for example ‘y’’ shows that she is from a working class background, because Edward wouldn’t say that because, he was brought up differently. Russell used parallel scenes instead of splitting scenes because it contrasts and juxtaposes the characters; Russell has done this to help the audience see the differences between the characters.
The play is written in a cyclical structure; it begins in the same way as it ends. The effect of the cyclical structure is it foreshadows what’s going to happen. Furthermore, within the play there are cycles. For example, the song ‘Shoes upon the table’ has been repeated several times in the musical. The narrator is trying to show that something bad is going to happen upon, by showing it through a cyclical structure. Russell believed that the class you belong to- determines to a large amount, your chances in life. I think this is his central message.
Russell uses several dramatic devices: juxtaposition, dramatic irony and parallel scenes. I think that the method Russell used to communicate his message to the audience was good and effective, because he used juxtaposition and parallel scenes to show how Mickey and Edwards’s lives are different. Russell’s message is still relevant in today’s society; a working class family will have to try harder to get the things a middle class family would get easier and this is not because of lack of ability but the prejudice of society.
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