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How is the character 'Mrs Johnstone' portrayed in the play 'Blood Brothers'?

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Introduction

How is the character 'Mrs Johnstone' portrayed in the play 'Blood Brothers'? In this essay, I am going to explain how the character 'Mrs Johnstone' is portrayed in the play 'Blood Brothers'. At the start of the play the audience are told that she is only twenty-five years old and already has had seven children. This suggests that she is naturally a maternal character, embracing new life and showing her caring personality. William Russell (Russell) may also be hinting at religious rulings against contraception in her life, therefore implying that she is a Catholic. The character 'Mrs Johnstone' is also portrayed as an extremely poor woman. ...read more.

Middle

'Mrs Johnstone' is also uneducated and Russell implies this through a number of different ways. She does not value intellectual or academic pursuits and this is why she is superstitious. It also means that she lacks concern for the education of her children and this is shown by her taking little interest when 'Sammy' and 'Mickey' are suspended for their behaviour. When 'Sammy' is suspended 'Mrs Johnstone' says it's the school's fault for 'letting the silly gets play with magnesium.' Also the character 'Mrs Johnstone' is fatalistic and this is shown by her saying 'what wil be will be'. This infers that she does not concern herself with explanations of events in her life, she just accepts them. ...read more.

Conclusion

'Mrs Johnstone' has a happy-go-lucky attitude and therefore follows her instincts and this is her best guide through life. Russell also portrays the character 'Mrs Johnstone' as a strong and generous woman. She knows what is right and wrong, however her circumstances make it hard for her to be a 'good' person. In the play she gives up her child because she knows that he will have a more comfortable life with Mrs Lyons and that he will have more opportunities. She also refuses Mrs Lyons' attempted bribe to move away because she values people over money. Overall the character 'Mrs Johnstone' is portrayed in the play 'Blood Brothers' as an extremely generous, kind and maternal woman, however due to the cycle of poverty she is uneducated and poor due to the lack of opportunities in her life. ...read more.

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Response to the question

This is a fairly adept response to a question which asks candidates to focus on the character of Mrs. Johnstone from Willy Russell's play 'Blood Brothers'. The danger is here that candidates provide a too obviously subjective view and do ...

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Response to the question

This is a fairly adept response to a question which asks candidates to focus on the character of Mrs. Johnstone from Willy Russell's play 'Blood Brothers'. The danger is here that candidates provide a too obviously subjective view and do not provide enough sufficient evidence for their interpretations. But this candidate has, if a little too prescriptively, provided plenty of explicit references to the text as they explore the character. Though beginning with an apparent major flaw in the essay (not realising the possible promiscuity of a younger Mrs. Johnstone) the essay is rescued by the candidate continuing to give a precise understanding of the character.

Level of analysis

The Level of Analysis here is fair but, due to structuring each paragraph with a rigid adherence to the PEE/C (Point, Evidence & Explanation/Comment) formula, the candidate cannot get much higher than a B grade for GCSE. Although the formula is encouraged, it is also encouraged of further ability students that they deviate slightly, so as to incorporate more "interesting and insightful analytical points" (as referenced in the mark scheme). That the candidate has not done this is no bad thing, as the candidate does show a good level of understanding about the character and presents a number of ideas pertaining to the explanation of Mrs. Johnstone's character traits.

The sentence structure however needs a lot of work. There will be more on this in the Quality of Written Communication section but before that, candidates must realise that if examiners read parts of an essay that suggest the candidate lacks sufficient knowledge of the play or write about a factual inaccuracy, marks will be deducted.

Quality of writing

The Quality of Written Communication (QWC) is, for the most-part, fair. But there are some major discrepancies that compromise the clarity and ultimately the accuracy of the essay. The following excerpt: "I know this because at the end of the play she says to Mickey (before shooting Edward) 'I couldn't afford to keep both of you'." suggests that it is Mrs. Johnstone who shoots her own son, Edward. This is clearly incorrect but the sentence structure appears to show this. There are other example I am not going to point out here; a B grade candidate should be able to spot where they have made big errors like this and where they have compromised the flow of a sentence due to poor grammar.

Elsewhere, candidates must never use inverted commas ('') unless stating the title of published works (e.g. - the title of the play - 'Blood Brothers'; there is no point nor relevance to using them on character names). It must also be noted that quotes should be situated inside quotation marks (""), e.g. - "I couldn't afford to keep both of you".


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Reviewed by sydneyhopcroft 01/07/2012

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