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“Blood Brothers”. But Miss I don’t know it!!!. CHARACTERS. Mrs Johnstone :. A mother “so cruel” – this is the first impression we are given of her. From the narrator in the prologue. Creates sympathy for her straight away in contrast. How?

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“Blood Brothers”

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Blood brothers l.jpg

“Blood Brothers”

But Miss I don’t know it!!!

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Mrs Johnstone:

  • A mother “so cruel” – this is the first impression we are given of her. From the narrator in the prologue.

  • Creates sympathy for her straight away in contrast. How?

  • Throughout, shown to want the best for her children. Four examples: (start from first few pages).

  • Her deal with Mrs Lyons could be seen to confirm she is “cruel” or has “heart of stone” – why?

  • However, various aspects can make us sympathetic towards her, such as? (try for at least 3?)

  • The aftermath of the birth of the twins – “Living on the never, never” and the way Mrs Johnstone is treated by the Lyons – do these create sympathy? How? Why?

  • Mrs Johnstone’s often hugs the children – an obvious sign of what aspect of her character?

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Mrs Johnstone continued

  • How is Mrs Johnstone treated by authority figures / characters with some power (the debt collectors[p16], the policeman[p47], the judge[p60]) , the Lyons and even the milkman)? Does this make us sympathise with her?

  • Think about Mrs Johnstone’s meetings with Edward over the years. How does she act towards him? (look for specific examples)? What does it show about her? Is she wrong to act as she does?

  • How does Mrs J. react to the boys trying to sneak off to watch an erotic film? How could this be seen as a good reaction? A bad one?

  • How successful a mother is Mrs J? How much does Russell suggest she is responsible for this?

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Mrs Lyons

  • Could be seen as the villain of the play, but when we first see her we sympathise with her. Find a quote for each of the following: acts in a friendly way to Mrs J., seems lonely, wants children

  • The first thing that might make us lose sympathy with her could be when she manipulates Mrs J. into agreeing to the deal. How does she manipulate the other woman? (think of at least 3 ways.)

  • How does Mrs Lyons go back on her promise to Mrs J. after the twins are born? Why is this not the right thing to do? Why might we sympathise with her actions?

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Mrs Lyons Continued

  • “They say that if either twin learns that he once was a pair, they shall both immediately die.” When Mrs Lyons says this to Mrs J. why does she say it? What goes on to happen?

  • What kind of relationship does Mrs Lyons have with Edward? (Think about how Edward himself speaks and behaves, think about the scenes we see in the Lyons house, think about her reaction to not knowing where Edward is when he’s seven, think about the scene where they dance together).

  • There are two main events which show how destroyed by jealously and fear Mrs Lyons becomes. What are they? What reasons are there to feel sympathetic towards her? What reasons are there for not feelings sympathetic?

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  • Sympathise with him from start: bullied by Sammy, friendly to Eddie, sensitive (look at how he looks up to his brother and his reaction to the game).

  • More street smart than Edward but still innocent – knows swear words but doesn’t know what they mean.

  • Constantly shown the lack of opportunities he has in comparison to Edward which creates sympathy (the Dictionary, sweets, school, future)

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Mickey continued

  • Differences between Mickey and his brother Sammy create more sympathy for M. because he “good”. (look at the bus incident)

  • Mickey’s inexperience and lack of confidence with girls also creates sympathy – give examples.

  • Mickey’s actions play an important part in the tragedy at the end of the play. In what ways is he responsible for them? In what ways isn’t he responsible for what happens?

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  • When we first meet Edward his protective upbringing is very clear from the things he says and doesn’t understand. Give examples.

  • We are sympathetic towards Edward because he is a “good” boy, he is friendly, polite and caring, but we’re always shown that he has an easier life than Mickey.

  • When Edward makes mistakes the consequences are never as serious – think about the scene with the Policeman.

  • In songs like “My best friend” and “If I was like him”, Edward and Mickey are shown as equal in their feelings of friendship and insecurity.

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Edward continued

  • How does the writer make us think about Edward in the scene before he goes to University when his feelings for Linda are revealed?

  • Eventually Edward’s background make him grown apart from Mickey. This is shown in the scene when Edward comes back from University – how?

  • How do we feel about Edward at this point?

  • Edward’s actions – helping Linda and Mickey, being involved with Linda etc – are crucial to the tragedy at the end. What do you make of the fact that we don’t really see him in these scenes? Does this make us sympathise with him or Mickey?

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  • “Leave him alone” The first thing we see about her is her protectiveness towards Mickey in the game at the start. Where else is her protectiveness shown?

  • She is always shown as the one in control of the relationship with Mickey, the confident one. Her ability with the air pistol could represent this. Think of examples from when they’re growing up of her being in control or more confident.

  • Up until the end of the play Linda’s feelings for Mickey are shown to be constant (they don’t change), even when Edward tells her how he feels.

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Linda continued

  • “Who’d tell the girl in the middle of the pair / The price she’ll pay for just being there?” How might this quotation suggest the writer wants us to feel sorry for Linda at the end of the play?

  • How does Linda react towards Mickey going to prison and his medication? Do we sympathise with her or not?

  • What do you think Linda is actually guilty of in her “light romance” [p101]with Edward? How do you feel about what she does? How do you think the writer wants us to feel? evidence?

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The Narrator

  • There are number of different ways the Narrator can be interpreted:

    • His title “narrator” suggests he should simply be telling the story – does this seem to be the case?

    • He seems to be manipulating the reader’s ideas about the characters. Look at the opening song or the song he sings when the children age from 14 to 18 [p81].

    • He is sometimes seen as a devil like character, tempting the characters in the play or pushing them into doing the wrong things – can you think of examples of this? Does the way he plays some of the other roles support this?

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Narrator continued

  • Could he also be seen as a kind of conscience of the characters?

  • He definitely highlights key moments, ideas and themes in the play. Look at two or three key moments such as the pact between Mrs L and Mrs J or the moment Edward and Mickey become blood brothers and look at how his words might affect the audience.

  • How would you suggest the lines of the narrator be played? Why?

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  • The idea of violence is present throughout the play. How is it present in each of the following:

    • The title.

    • The opening scene.

    • Childhood.

    • The Teen years.

    • The end.

    • How does the violence increase throughout the play?

    • What does the play suggest about inequality and violence?

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  • “Blood Brothers” is based upon the premise that the class you belong to will, to a large extent, determine your life chances.

  • How far do the lives of Mickey and Edward show this? Think about the three examples you picked out for homework.

  • We can also compare the lives of Mrs Lyons and Mrs Johnstone. Think about similarities and differences between their lives. Does the class they belong to effect their choices and the things that happen to them?

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  • What do we know about Mr Johnstone and Mr Lyons? Does this suggest a positive view of men/ fathers, or a negative one?

  • What stereotypes of women are shown in the play? (Think about Marilyn Monroe, Mrs Johnstone and her life, Mrs Lyons and her life, Linda, Donna Marie)

  • How does Linda suggest a different role than Mrs Johnstone or Mrs Lyons? Think about how she is shown to be strong.

  • Do you think Russell wants us to be sympathetic towards the women in the play?

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  • “And do we blame superstition for what came to pass?” Narrator

  • What superstitions appear in the play?

  • How do superstitions effect the characters?

  • Does the writer want us to believe superstitions come true or is his point about what happens when we allow ourselves to believe in them? Think about what happens to Mrs Lyons and the part she plays in the events at the end.

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