The folllowing sample essay on Mrs Lyons discusses it in detail, offering basic facts and pros and cons associated with it. To read the essay’s introduction, body and conclusion, scroll down.
The contrast of Mrs. Johnstone having several children but little money and Mrs. Lyons having no children but a lot of money is an important point put across by Russell. He is showing that despite her wealth, Mrs. Lyons, leads an empty life without children, especially with her husband being away for long periods.
Whereas Mrs. Johnstone despite her troubles in raising her large family is much more fulfilled and content of the two. This is depicted throughout the play and particularly in the following exchange;
MRS JOHNSTONE: Ah, you’ll be glad when he’s (Mr Lyons) back won’t you? The house won’t feel so empty then, will it? MRS LYONS: Actually, Mrs J, we bought such large house for the-for the children – we thought children would come along.
MRS JOHNSTONE: Well y’ might still be able to…. MRS LYONS: No, I’m afraid… we’ve trying for such a long time now… This conversation early on in the play states that she can’t have any children and Mrs Lyons carries on saying that she won’t mind adopting. This suggests that Mrs Lyons is desperate to have a child, even if she had to adopt.
This is further enhanced soon after when; MRS JOHNSTONE: Are y’… are y’ that desperate to have a baby? MRS LYONS (singing): Each day I look out from this window, I see him with his friends, I hear him call, I rush down but as I fold my arms round him, he’s gone.
Was he ever there at all? I’ve dreamed of all the places I would take him…… Mrs. Lyons situation of despair with respect to not having children is extremely well brought out through the emotional song. Mrs. Johnstone’s love for all her children despite not having the means to look after them is reinforced by her following statement:
MRS JOHNSTONE: With one more baby we could have managed. But not with two. The Welfare have already been on to me. They say I’m incapable of controllin’ the kids I’ve already got. They say I should put some of them into care. But I won’t. I love the bones of every one of them. I’ll even love these two when they come along. But……. Mrs Lyons is very well respected in the community and Mrs Johnstone is not, which is a reflection of the social class and wealth divide that existed. Russell shows this through the policeman, when there’s trouble concerning the twin brothers Mickey and Edward.
The policeman treats Mickey’s mother, Mrs Johnstone as an outcast and talks down to her, he becomes authoritative and threatening, and he describes the incident as “a serious crime. ” He says “Either you keep them in order, misses, or it’ll be the courts for you or worse. ” Telling “there’ll be no more bloody warnings. ” Towards Mr and Mrs Lyons, Edwards so called parents, he is respectful, and he removes his helmet. He recognises them to having a higher status as a result of their wealth and acts quite differently. He is nervous and hesitates when speaking playing down Eddie’s involvement, “an er, as I say, it was more of a prank, really.
” The policeman uses one phrase which sums up the social gulf between rich and poor, “make sure he keeps with his own kind, Mr Lyons”. Mrs Johnstone and Mrs Lyons are also different in their beliefs. Mrs Johnstone is extremely superstitious. She always believes in bad luck, when she sees a certain action, she interprets it as a bad sign. An example of this is when she says, “Oh God, Mrs Lyons, never put new shoes on the table”. Coming from a working class background Mrs Johnstone believes in such superstitions (though she denies it by saying, “I’m not superstitious”). At the beginning Mrs Lyons doesn’t take her serious.
She makes a fool of her superstitions and takes advantage of it by telling her some threads when they seal the pact. At the end though, she notices the bad results and starts to doubt herself. It is also very evident that Mrs Lyons sometimes thinks herself to be better than Mrs Johnstone because of her higher social status and the money she owns. But this is rather a natural condition because every person of the upper class has this opinion about the people belonging to the working class. Also both mothers have different personalities, in terms of their different accents.
Mrs Johnstone use slang a lot and has a broad Liverpudlian accent, this is shown through her language, e. g. when she says, “are y’ … are y’ that desperate to have a baby? ” This slang language stresses the lack of her education. However on the other hand Mrs Lyons is well spoken, traditional of the middle and higher classes – suggesting a good education and elocution lessons. Russell shows this difference of accents in the two mothers through a number of techniques. One of the main techniques he uses is the punctuation and spelling of words.
This is used by Russell to help show how characters are speaking e. g. (missing letters out words), this then lets us; the audience know how they are feeling or what they are doing, for example answering a question. Also he uses misspelt words to develop Mrs Johnstone’s Liverpudlian accent. Through “Blood Brothers” Russell encourages the audience to challenge the assumption that money equates to happiness. We are influenced to sympathise with Mrs. Johnstone and grow to understand that despite her background and lack of money she is the better parent.
This challenges any assumption that suggests wealth would lead to a better, happier upbringing. Throughout “Blood Brothers”, the audience’s sympathy lies with Mrs. Johnstone (portrayed as a simpleton but very caring and sensitive) – we know that she gives her own son away, but we see that it is with good intentions, and despite her lack of money and her numerous children, we feel she could give Eddie a happier, more loving childhood. Of course both women are in a tug of war over Eddie. Mrs. Lyons tries to make Eddie her own, bringing him up the way she desires; however Eddie still finds his way back to his roots.
Mrs. Lyons suffers a dreadful insecurity as a result of this, revealing herself as an obsessive and quite aggressive character. All through the play we view the idea of surrogacy as a dangerous concept. We see from the very beginning that Mrs. Johnstone is reluctant to give away her own child, and in turn we witness Mrs. Lyons’ manipulative nature as she coerces Mrs. Johnstone into parting with her son. It is important to note that at the beginning both mothers get on very well with each other complimenting their different backgrounds, and showing this through expressing mutual support. Mrs.
Johnstone sympathises with Mrs. Lyons because she cannot have children and Mrs. Lyons prepared to listen to her troubles. However this relationship sours when they battle for Eddie, with Mrs. Lyons’ darker side (esp. possessive and obsessive nature) coming to the forefront whereas Mrs. Johnstone throughout maintains a kind and reasonable approach. Russell is trying to show that when pushed to the extremes Mrs. Johnstone, with her tougher upbringing, is better at maintaining her personal standards whereas Mrs. Lyons is very fragile and resorts to the extremes of her negative characteristics.
Thus Russell shows brilliantly the notion that “adversity builds character”, and wealth does not make you or improve you as a person. In summary Willy Russell has managed successfully, through character relationships, to explore some very important issues e. g. impact on character of the social class system, fate and destiny, surrogacy, superstition and humour and tragedy. In particular he has been effective in comparing two very different characters in the form of the turbulent relationship between Mrs. Johnstone and Mrs. Lyons and indeed relating their formed characters to the social class.
The overall effects that Russell gains by presenting these two mothers in this way is a lot of tension, fear and suspense by doing a number of things through the music, stage directions and the narrator. The things that Russell does to create these effects of fear and suspense are that he uses the music, which is very dramatic to make the people feel tensed and also Russell uses the music or the song to show the argument between the two mothers. This song is an emotional one and so Russell makes the audience also feel like this.
Likewise, he uses the stage directions and the narrator to show this emotional theme. I think that Russell did a tremendous job by using a lot of effects to present the two mothers in this way. All of the play was set around these two mothers, so that is why I think Russell used them to develop the storyline e. g. the social class split between them, rich and poor, educated, not educated etc. Also I loved the way that he ended the story, “And do we blame superstition for what came to pass? Or could it be what we, the English, have come to know as class? “