Deaths of Mickey and Edward in Willy Russell's Blood Brothers

Deaths of Mickey and Edward in Willy Russell's Blood Brothers

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Deaths of Mickey and Edward in Willy Russell's Blood Brothers


"And do we blame superstition for what came to pass?
Or could it be what we, the English, have came to know as class?"

Blood Brothers is a play set in Liverpool, Willy Russell wrote it in
1983. Willy Russell has wrote plays based in Liverpool because this is
where he was brought up as a kid in a working class family, Blood
Brothers relates to this and aspects of class that he would have
experienced when he lived there. Willy Russell grew up just outside
Liverpool, he left school when he was only 15 to become a hairdresser,
it was in his early twenties when he decided to go back to school and
take his O levels. His plays were about everyday circumstances and his
portrayal of life then. In this essay I intend to find out the reason
for Mickey and Edward's deaths, whether it was superstition or class,
I will evaluate both of the possible causes and how they are used
within the play, then I will have to make a conclusion to which side
of the argument proves to be the correct one.

The main sources of superstition revolve around Mrs Johnstone because
she is the character who believes that when certain things happen
consequences will unfold due to this. Willy Russell points these
superstitious events out to the audience, by using one of the
characters to mention this or a song will be used to show something
superstitious happening. At these stages in the play he is already
asking the audience whether they believe in superstition.

The first incidence of superstition comes at the beginning after the
opening song; this is when the audience finds out that Mrs Johnstone
is superstitious and that superstition may appear later in the play.
Mrs Lyons enters Mrs Johnstone's house and then there is a stage
direction saying that Mrs Lyons puts her new shoes on the table, Mrs
Johnstone replies to this angrily "Jesus Christ, Mrs Lyons, what are
y' trying to do?" At the bottom of the page where this happens the
narrator says "There's shoes upon the table an' a joker in the pack,
the salts been spilled and the looking glass cracked, there's one lone
magpie overhead." The narrator is giving us examples of superstitions.
Here he is trying to hint that something bad is going follow because
of the shoes upon the table. After this it is possibly significant
that she claims not to be superstitious three times, three is meant to
be a lucky number but in her case it is unlucky because the

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gynaecologist tells her that she is expecting twins when she can only
just cope with the amount of children that she has. This also
justifies how the shoes on the table were unlucky for her, Mrs
Johnstone says "If I'm careful we can just scrape, by even with
another mouth to feed." This is the point when the gynaecologist tells
her that she is expecting twins, so it proves how unlucky she is and
it makes the audience feel sympathetic for her.

In the following scene Mrs Johnstone tells Mrs Lyons that she is
expecting twins, Mrs Lyons has been trying for a child and would
desperately want one but has been unable to, when she finds out that
Mrs Johnstone is expecting twins and she knows that Mrs Johnstone is
struggling to support her family she wants one of her babies. Mrs
Johnstone reluctantly agrees, as she knows that she cannot afford to
look after it, the child would have a better upbringing in Mrs Lyons
household and she could accept some money off Mrs Lyons. The next
incidence of superstition happens here with Mrs Lyons making Mrs
Johnstone swear on the bible that she cannot tell anybody about their
deal, Mrs Lyons says "Mrs J, no one must ever know. Therefore we have
to have an agreement." A song follows this scene and then in the next
scene Mrs Lyons creates the superstition that could be the reason for
Mickey and Edward's deaths. Mrs Lyons threatens Mrs Johnstone in the
one way that she thinks Mrs Johnstone will never let out this secret
because she knows that Mrs Johnstone is superstitious after the shoes
were placed on the table. Mrs Lyons says, "They say…they say that if
either twin learns that he was once a pair, they shall both
immediately die." Even though this superstition is made up the
consequences of it are true and the narrator asks the title question
to the audience because they already know that the twins will die from
the beginning of the play so he is asking them whether they believe
this superstition could be responsible for their deaths or whether it
could be something else. The question of whether Mrs Lyons is to be
blame for creating this superstition could also be asked. The song
called "Shoes upon the table" follows this and an atmosphere is
created. This will keep the audience waiting to find out how they die
so that they can make a judgement on whether superstition is to blame.

These are the two main sources of superstition affecting the outcome
of the play and they both affect Mrs Johnstone who is the only
character who believes in superstition, she has twins unexpectedly and
then they die both connected to superstition.

There are other incidences of superstition happening though which are
connected throughout the play these are the links of the number seven.
At the beginning of the play Mrs Johnstone has seven children, the
gaps within the play are seven years long and Mickey is sentenced to
seven years because of an armed robbery. The number seven occurring in
these places could be linked to the seven deadly sins which could be
connected to the deaths of Mickey and Edward.

The other reason that Willy Russell suggests responsible for the
deaths of Mickey and Edward is class. The class divide is between Mrs
Johnstone's family and Mr and Mrs Lyons. Mrs Johnstone's family are
working class, they are struggling financially as we can tell from the
beginning when the milkman comes and refuses to deliver the milk
because she has failed to pay for weeks, meanwhile the children are
complaining that they are starving. Mr and Mrs Lyons are much richer
than Mrs Johnstone, Mr Lyons is a businessman who works frequently
they have everything they want except a baby.

It is the differences in class that make us like Mrs Johnstone more
than Mrs Lyons. The audience prefers Mrs Johnstone because they will
have sympathy for her not being able to cope with seven children and
her husband has left her so they will side with her more than Mrs
Lyons. Later in the story we see that Mrs Johnstone's relationship
with Edward is better than his with Mrs Lyons, this asks if the reason
Mrs Lyons could never have children is because she was destined to be
a bad mother. Willy Russell makes the working class look like better
people compared to middle class, I think this because he came from a
working class family and he may never have liked the middle class
people that he met.

There is an important part in the play when Mrs Lyons tells Edward to
stay away from the lower class, she looks down upon Mickey and does
not want Edward growing up like him. Edward uses some rude vocabulary
which Mickey said earlier, Mrs Lyons replies "You learn filth from
them and behave like this like a, like a horrible little boy, like
them." She refers to the lower class as 'them', this may suggest she
does not regard the lower class as being respectable people and they
are much different from her. After this she says, "You are my son,
mine" this is some dramatic irony which underpins that Edward is not
really her son and that he would fit more appropriately in Mrs
Johnstone's family. This is the second time we see Mrs Lyons as a
mother, the first time the Edward is just a baby in a cot, Mrs
Johnstone goes to pick him up as he is crying but Mrs Lyons stops her
and says, "If he needs picking up, I shall pick him up. All right?" In
my opinion she has been a bad mother in both cases so her not being
able to have a baby justifies that maybe she could not because she was
destined to be a bad mother.

There is another incidence that shows bias due to someone's status.
When Mickey, Edward and Linda are caught by a policeman throwing
stones the officer takes them back to their homes, at Mickey's house
his tone is angry and he tells Mrs Johnstone to look after her son
better. When he arrives at Edward's he is much more casual about the
situation and he does not mind because Mr Lyons is a more important
person in the society. The policeman threatens Mrs Johnstone, "You
don't wanna end up in court again, do y'?"

With Mr Lyons he says, "I'm not sure I'd let him mix with the likes of
them in the future. Make sure he keeps with his own kind, Mr Lyons."
The policeman tells us that there is a definite divide in class when
he says 'own kind'. This shows how class is an important aspect in
this story if a policeman who is someone who should be setting an
example to the society is being unfair to someone because of their
status.

When they are older they can understand how their lives have grown
apart due to class. Edward has been able to get a good education and a
descent job. Mickey has had the opposite, he cannot afford his baby
and he eventually goes unemployed, this drives him towards the robbery
and later towards the argument with Edward. Edward is oblivious to
what Mickey has been going through because Edward has always had
everything that he has needed.

If the reason for Mickey and Edward's deaths was because of
superstition you could say that they have been very unlucky because a
series of far-fetched coincidences occur throughout the play. These
are that Mr Lyons is coming home just after the baby is expected to be
born; they both move into the same neighbourhood by chance; when
Edward is shot the text says that the gun exploded. Instead of saying
that superstition is responsible for their deaths you could say that
it was simply their fate, this can link up with when Linda says, "When
you die you'll meet your twinny again, won't y'?" Back then Mickey was
told that his twin died at birth but what Linda says is true because
it is just as he dies that he has found out whom his twin is that he
thought was dead. It is also coincidental that all of the bad luck
happens to the lower class. They cannot get employment and when Mickey
eventually loses his job Linda is pregnant at the time, Mickey also
has bad luck that he was the twin who was not given the same
opportunities as Edward. In the final scene when it is revealed that
they are twins he says, "Why didn't you give me away! I could have
been I could have been him!" Even though it is chance that Mickey was
not taken away and that Edward is I believe that it is class that
makes him so angry here because if Mickey would have had an equal
upbringing to Edward's they would have nothing to argue about. It is
that Mickey is jealous of Edward for the reasons that Edward has a
job, money and in the final stages he has Linda that drives apart the
friendship they once had. The majority of the bad luck involved in the
play revolves around the lower class, I believe that Willy Russell is
making a statement that the lower class deserve more and that they are
treated unfairly in society.

From this I can conclude that class is responsible for the deaths of
Mickey and Edward. If both families were lower class or if both
families were middle class Mickey and Edward would not have died. When
they are young it does not matter to them that they are from different
types of homes, it is their parents who are telling them to stay away
from each other and to stick to their own kind as the policeman says.
It is only when they grow older and they have more responsibilities
that they become to realise how different they are from each other.
Mickey's jealousy is what makes him want to kill Edward, if Edward did
not have a job Mickey would not have had a reason to despise him, the
same applies to if Mickey would have had a job then they would have
been on equal terms and probably still being friends. In the play
there are definitely some circumstances which are unlikely and would
not normally happen. Willy Russell suggests that superstition is a
possible option of explaining why they died but superstitions do not
always come true and the one that kills Mickey and Edward allegedly is
made up by Mrs Lyons and there is no evidence that this superstition
has came true anywhere else. I think that Willy Russell asks whether
superstition is responsible for their deaths because he does not want
to say that class is the reason for their deaths because it would look
like he is directly blaming people from being in different classes.
Therefore class is the reason for their deaths as it drives apart
their friendship because of their differences.
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