Willy Russell is interested in the effect that environment and family have on people’s lives and opportunities. How does Russell draw the attention of the audience towards this central theme in Blood Brothers? During the past few weeks, I have been studying the work of Willy Russell. His play “Blood Brothers” is about two twins separated at birth and how the play follows their very different lives. In this essay, I will be looking at how Russell’s life has affected his writing in this play.
I will be explaining how Russell draws the attention of his audience to the effect that family and environment have on people’s lives and opportunities. I will look at how he uses character, language, humour, plot and staging devises to emphasise this theme. So, now I am going to analyse the way that Russell uses character to show the effect that family and environment have on people’s lives. My first example is where I noticed the difference between the two twins: Edward and Mickey. Both of their attitudes were changing due to the effect that family and environment were having on their lives.
When they were both very small and blind of each others existence, Eddie goes down to the rougher end of the village and they meet for the first time. During their conversation Mickey demands a sweet. When Eddie agrees, Mickey is shocked because the people in his area would hesitate straight away. Mickey : Round here if you ask anyone for a sweet you have to ask about twenty four million times and you know what? they still don’t bleeding well give you one! The different reactions from the brothers are because of their different upbringing, family and environment.
Eddie is an only child and quite glad to be sharing sweets. Mickey is bemused by Eddie’s generosity because people in his area would never want to give anything away as they do not have much, they want it all for themselves. Another use of character I found is where the policewoman catches the two boys throwing stones. When the policewoman talks to their parents she acts in a completely different manner. When the policewoman arrives at Mickey’s house she has only bad things to say, for example she says to Mrs Johnson he was about to commit a serious crime and you don’t want to end up in court again!
Authority acts in different ways. The policewoman has so much power over Mrs Johnson she is able to speak to her like a child and does not respect her feelings in this situation at all. To Mrs Lyons, Eddie’s mum, she treats the crime as a prank. She is obviously considering Mrs Lyons as she may have more power than her in some respects. The policewoman excuses herself if she is interfering and suggests docking his pocket money! So, let me get this straight, because of each families background, to one family the policewoman speaks of court and to the other she speaks of docking pocket money!
The power is enhanced the more money you have. Then I found that Russell uses language to show the difference between family and environment. My first example is where Eddie first hears a swear word. Eddie: Do you want to come and play? Mickey: I might do. But I am not playing now because I am pissed off. Eddie: Pissed off? You say smashing things don’t you? Pissed off. Do you know any more words like that? I have noticed that because of family and environment, Mickey is used to swearing and in this instance he probably tried to put it in his speech. Eddie is amazed and confused at the same time.
He thinks it is smashing but he still does not know what it means. Eddie would not have come across this word in his environment. Many people like him would be steered from saying these words and say something else. In Mickey’s environment he may come across a swear word every day and it is considered to be the norm. My second example is similar and is on the very same page, after Eddie asked for any more words like that. Mickey: You know, the “f” word. Mickey tells the “f” word to Eddie and they both giggle. Eddie says he will look it up in the dictionary.
Mickey does not know what a dictionary is as this word would rarely come up in his environment as they may not be able to afford one or can just do without. This example shows how both of the boys lives has been affected by their environment. Eddie has been taught to look up words in the dictionary if he does not understand a word, although Mickey has not come across this word before, so obviously he cannot look it up in the dictionary! Now, I am going to analyse the use of humour Russell uses to emphasise the way that family and environment effect peoples lives.