Compare how Willy Russell portrays the two mothers in Blood Brothers. Account for the different reactions the audience will have to the two women throughout the play.

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Asfand Ali Gulzar           4108                 Hatch End High School              Ms S Naidoo                                                                                                 

‘Blood Brothers’ Drama Coursework

Compare how Willy Russell portrays the two mothers in Blood Brothers.

Account for the different reactions the audience will have to the two women throughout the play.

This essay will compare how Willy Russell portrays the two mothers in ‘Blood Brothers’ in the book and on the stage. It will have an account for the different reactions the audience will have to the two women throughout the play. Firstly, the play ‘Blood Brothers’ is set in post Second World War Liverpool between the nineteen fifties and ends around the nineteen seventies, a time when the image of being Marilyn Monroe was every girl’s dream. It was also a time when people were striving to make ends meet because unemployment was high after the war. Within this time the play was set and this essay will also show how this backdrop will have an effect on the audience.

In this musical, the playwright, Willy Russell, chooses to portray two contrasting women and significantly, two different mothers. Willy Russell writes the play in such a context with the intent to make individuals realise the effects of the class system on both mothers. The play looks at class effects and how people are able to live their lives because of what situations they are in. For example, on the one hand you have Mrs. Johnstone who lives in the poor end of Liverpool, struggling to bring up eight children on her own and is forced emotionally to give one away to keep the others clothed and fed well enough. Willy Russell characterized her as a poor working class single mother, who through necessity, had to give one of her twin boys away to her wealthier, childless employer, Mrs. Lyons. Mrs. Lyons was created as a person who, lives in a large house, very contentedly in a nice part of Liverpool, who wants children but is unable to have any, even though she is rich, unlike Mrs. Johnstone. Willy Russell looks at love as a theme and shows the two women who love their sons but show it in completely different ways. Willy Russell created two very different mothers to explore the effects of nature and nurture, superstition, class, power and dreams. Throughout the play, Willy Russell influences the audience to react differently to these women and their actions throughout the play as our sympathy constantly sways between the two characters.

The first time Willy Russell portrays the two mothers differently in ‘Blood Brothers’ was when we were first introduced to Mrs. Johnstone. At the beginning of the play, the Narrator describes Mrs. Johnstone as, “the mother, so cruel” but perhaps this is not what we are led to think of Mrs. Johnstone. This is because further on the play we get to learn about Mrs. Johntone’s tragic past. We get to know that before Mrs. Johnstone was burdened with eight children, she was told she “was sexier than Marilyn Monroe”. However, “after the baby came along” her husband did not want to go dancing with her anymore because she was now seen as “twice the size of Marilyn Monroe”. Furthermore, we also learn that she started to age quickly because of her pregnancies, “By the time I was twenty-five I looked like forty-two”. At this point in time, the audience may express their sympathy for her and what's more we are told her partner had left her, “ Me, husband, he walked out on me”. On the one hand, Willy Russell wants us to criticise Mrs. Johnstone to a certain extent for being responsible for the state she is in right now. Nevertheless, on the other hand Willy Russell wants us to have sympathy for Mrs. Johnstone because she is incapable to look after her children due to her financial constraints and is stressed with outstanding amounts from the Milkmen. We are shown this when the Milkman says, “You owe me three pounds seventy four pence” and as a response Mrs. Johnstone says, “ Look, next week I’ll pay y…” This is an example of Willy Russell trying to get some consideration for Mrs. Johnstone and in general, the audience will commiserate with her in this scene. At this instant, Willy Russell provides us with a clear and stark distinction with Mrs. Lyons who is going to be forthcoming character in the play.

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This paragraph will compare how Willy Russell portrays the two mothers when they meet for the first time. In this scene, we see Mrs. Johnstone at her workplace. She is a cleaner for an upper-class family, the Lyons. In a conversation we learn of Mrs. Johnston’s superstition as she tells Mrs. Lyons not to put new shoes on the table. This immediately shows to us how a working-class woman can believe in superstitions whereas as an upper-class women would not. This may suggest to us that Mrs. Johnstone suffered from lack of education. Willy Russell also shows us the ...

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