Blood Brothers: social context

Blood Brothers: social context

Playwright and Origin of the Play

  • “Blood Brothers” was written by Willy Russell in 1981, setting the play in Liverpool from the 1960s to the 1980s, a period marked by economic challenges and social unrest. The play explores themes of social class and aspects such as housing, education, and employment.
  • Willy Russell was born in a working-class family and hence draws upon his own experiences to critique the British class system. His portrayal of the divide between the wealthy and the impoverished is stark and compelling.

Portrayal of Social Classes

  • The Johnstone family is depicted as working class. Mrs. Johnstone, despite her relentless work, struggles financially to support her large family, highlighting the issue of poverty and the struggles of the working class at the time.
  • In contrast, the Lyons family lives comfortably due to their middle-class status and access to wealth. This accentuates the inequities of the social system at the time.
  • The segregation between the two families, though living in the same city, mirrors the fence that separated the poor and affluent communities throughout Britain in the 1980s.

Education and Employment

  • Education is also a central element from a social perspective. Mickey and Eddie receive contrasting levels of education due to their differing economic backgrounds, which impacts their future prospects and opportunities.
  • Employment opportunities are also highlighted in the play. Mickey struggles to find a steady job, which pushes him to a life of crime. This reflects the economic strain and dwindling job opportunities in Liverpool during the playwright’s time.

Social Beliefs and Changing Roles

  • The play also encapsulates the impact of superstitions and fate in society. The belief in the curse tied to separating twins might be seen as a critique on societal superstitions and irrational beliefs.
  • “Blood Brothers” also illustrates the changing roles and expectations of women in society, through characters like Mrs. Johnstone (the working-class mother) and Mrs. Lyons (the middle-class housewife).

Play’s Broader Significance

  • Russell’s play is not merely a portrayal of two separated twins but a mirror to the classist system that governed the society during that era. Keep these key social context points in mind to understand and analyse the actions, motivations, and struggles of the characters in “Blood Brothers”.