Discuss this statement with reference to blood brothers. I will be looking into this statement and giving for and against evidence as to whether it is true or not and if Russell champions the socially disadvantaged. This could however be interpreted in different ways, Russell may be seen as sympathising with the lower class people who were generally looked down upon during that era and seen as the scum of the earth; he was possibly showing that these aren’t bad people by putting you into their lives.
Others perceive that Russell purposefully portrays the middle class, for example Mrs. Lyons in a negative way. Soon I found after reading part-way through that both are ‘disadvantaged’ in one way or another. A good comparison between social ranks and classes are between Mrs. Lyons and Mrs. Johnstone or between Mickey and Edward; when this play was written people were ‘disadvantaged’ if they had some of the problems these characters have, Mrs. Johnstone can be classed as lower/working class; also she has a lot of children with little income coming in.
she notes how hard she has to work by saying, “an’ me, I can’t stop havin’ them… I’m back on me feet an’ workin’ the next day y’ know. ” She shows how she has to force herself back to work to make money even after the notoriously stressful and painful process of giving birth. At this point also she is speaking to Mrs. Lyons, she says “I can’t stop having them” in relation to a baby. Some perceive that this is Mrs. Johnstone’s psychological advantage over her as she may be classed as disadvantaged as she is infertile and cannot have any children. In many of Mrs.
Johnstone’s scenes there are meant to be children running around everywhere making lots of noise, which eventually annoys the audience and we put ourselves in her shoes, thinking how she must cope with this constant racket and sympathise with her because of this. In contrast Mrs. Lyons seems lonely in the majority of her scenes, even her husband when he came had to rush off quickly, she seems to get her happiness from money. Willy Russell’s background gives us an insight as to why he would be so interested in social class and the divisions between them.
He was born into a working class family and as he grew up we noticed he tries his hand at a variety of different trades, many of which dramatically failed causing his to have to step back and review his status. In 1962 Russell left school to become a ladies hairdresser, only to soon return to school 7 years later as what they describe as a more ‘mature’ student. In his biography it quotes Russell saying how he “was brought up to see both sides of a question.
” And he certainly did with blood brothers as it follows the story of both a middle and working class family through their day-to-day lives; I believe this is the reason he was so interested in the socially disadvantaged. Willy keeps us interested throughout the play, he does this with the fact this is a musical, the mood generally fitting in with the mood at the time of the play. There are many ways of seeing this apparent social divide, and all of them have plenty of evidence from within the text to support them. For example Mrs.
Lyons’ ‘disadvantages’ like constant loneliness and isolation from close family; her husband who always has to dash away within moments of being there, which makes us question; is she really happy? Mrs. Johnstone picks up on this and innocently says when she hears that Mrs. Lyons husband will be along in a few months, “The house won’t feel so empty then, will it? ” And later even Mrs. Lyons admits that the house is quite large, putting two and two together helps you realise that an empty house with not many people living in it relates to loneliness. She does have a lot of money which Mrs. Johnstone doesn’t, but Mrs.
Johnstone has loads of children around her however I can quote her saying, “Me husband used to say that all we had to do was shake hands and I’d be in the club. ” We can interpret this two ways, either she really is frustrated that she can’t stop having children constantly, or this is her little advantage over Mrs. Lyons and her tone will be light-hearted and she actually enjoys this. I think that would be down to how the dialogue in that part is spoken, or down to the director and what emotions they want to portray. Maybe the fact Mrs. Johnstone has money is the reason she got the baby in the first place; she emotionally blackmails Mrs.
Johnstone by saying, “if he grew up here as our son, he could have everything. ” Mrs. Johnstone obviously wants the best for her child and Mrs. Lyons is using the fact she is wealthy to persuade her to hand over the child. Mrs. Something else I only lightly covered was money issues; Mrs. Johnstone always has debt collectors at her door, even in one scene we have her mistake her son knocking at the door for one with her screaming, “go away! ” to the person. Meanwhile we see on page 18 how Mrs. Lyons without hesitation asks for fifty pounds (which considering that era was a lot of money) and we see Mr. Lyons only question her once as to why.
The stage direction then reads ‘he hands her the money’ whether or not he hesitates further in doing so is again up to the director. But the nature of how he simply gives the money and then exits shows how much well off she in compared to Mrs. Johnstone. Russell helps us sympathise with Mrs. Johnstone by showing us what she has to go through, what seems like everyday with the debt collectors. Constantly nagging her for money she obviously doesn’t have, and he shows the debt collectors dialogue more as a threat then anything else. The milkman for example threatens her by saying, “I’ll be forced to cut off your deliveries.
“Forced’ a very strong word, as they seem to like Mrs. Johnstone but have no choice, showing that they must be as sick of it as Mrs. Johnstone herself. Milk is something we take for granted now, and to say she doesn’t have enough money to even pay off milk deliveries shows how bad things are. The social divide is obviously there and signs can be even heard in the dialogue too, in the same scene as noted above when Mrs. Johnstone mistakes her son for a salesman. Mickey at this point knows he’s speaking to his mum yet still continues to ‘swear’ or at least use foul language to her by saying, “open the bleedin’ door.
” And throughout the play To refer to their mothers, Mickey uses “Mam” and Eddie uses “Mummy” for their titles, Classing “bleedin'” as a swear word may not be completely right as further on in the play we see all of the children making a fuss about somebody saying the “F” word. Evidently Mrs. Johnstone’s superstition had rubbed off onto the children as they chant a rhyme about how they will be punished in hell for saying it. However as the boys grow closer they share jokes and their different upbringing become apparent again in their language and use of it.
The boys find a swear word very funny and when Eddie says he will look the “F” word up in the dictionary, Mickey is clueless to what the object is. Maybe that though was a technique used by Russell, as I found that part to be quite funny and light-hearted, in this innocent comedy he could be making us sympathise with the character in that Mickey may not know any better. The differences between the boys creates humour as one is very bright and willing to share his sweets whereas the other is all too eager to accept the sweets as he rarely gets offered them (essentially then, these two are complete opposites).
Even the way Mickey says, “give us a sweet” may be seen as rude, for the fact he didn’t say please, the slang and the fact they’ve only just met. Then the opinions of the two show, of how they feel about each other, Mickey not knowing much in the way of values calls Eddie “soft”, which I’ve done some research into to conclude that he’s either calling him homosexual (something looked down upon in 1970’s Liverpool) or saying that he’s posh and doesn’t know how to look after himself.
And coming back to humour, I found the play at some parts to be quite hilarious, for example when Mickey constantly reiterates that he’s not 7 but “almost 8”, I remember (when watching the performance and reading the script) the majority of people roaring with laughter, and the more it was repeated the funnier it seemed to get! It’s these comic moments like such as that that make it an “entertaining drama” as the original statement suggested.