- The Narrator’s own social class is ambiguous. He speaks with a Liverpudlian accent and is plain-speaking, so is unlike the Lyons.
- He also does not use slang and contractions, so he is unlike the Johnstones, too.
- This could mean that he is able to fit in, equally able to understand and communicate with both sides of the social divide.
- Alternatively, it could mean that he is an outsider, unable to fully understand both sides.
- Again, this may suggest that he is partly the embodiment of Russell, who was born working class but was, by the time he wrote Blood Brothers, a well-educated, successful, famous writer; part of the “elite”, middle class establishment. The Narrator, like Russell, has privileged access which enables him to hear both sides, but is not fully a part of either, because he is part of both.
“Did you never hear of the mother? So cruel there’s a stone in place of her heart?”
“Then come, judge for yourselves how she came to play this part”
“They say the Devil’s got your number… He’s right behind you”
“Shoes on the table and the spider’s been killed. Someone broke the looking glass”
- Why does the Narrator appear on stage during scenes in which he was not actually present?
Role in Play
- The Narrator’s role is to introduce and explain the story. He is first to speak on stage and does so directly to the audience: “Did you hear the story of the Johnstone twins?”
- His tone is conversational, as though he is passing on gossip–he even tells us the ending straight away, which is exactly what happens when people pass on big news–but he speaks in rhyme. Shakespeare often did something similar, using _Prologues (Pro= in front, logue= to speak) _at the beginning of many plays, during which the ending was revealed.
- The role is also similar to that of an Ancient Greek Chorus, who were usually played by a group of actors who were dressed identically and spoke in unison, because they represented a group of people who shared an opinion. The Narrator in Blood Brothers represents the public, who are often judgemental and critical when they hear the headline news, before they know all the facts.
- Telling us the end result at the outset recreates how most people first hear about tragedies from news stories, which only become known to the public when the worst has happened.
- The Narrator judges Mrs Johnstone harshly, which invites the audience to do the same. Again, this recreates how many people react when they hear news stories without understanding the circumstances which led to them.
- Opinions are often stated as facts. Russell is challenging the audience to understand their own behaviour in similar, real-life cases. At the end of the prologue, however, the Narrator’s tone changes.
- Having played the part of the judgemental audience, he introduces Mrs Johnstone and tells us to “judge for yourselves”. He helps her off with her coat, and the action begins.
- The Narrator is _omniscient (from Ancient Greek: omni= all, scire= to know), _which means he sees everything. He is not really a part of the action, but can walk into the scenes of others without being seen. As well as narrating, he often appears in scenes and stands silently in the shadows, reminding us of his, and our own role, bearing witness to the events as they play out before us.
- It is as though the whole story is being told by the Narrator; as though the audience have been transported back in time, to key scenes which he has chosen to show us to illustrate how the tragedy came to happen.
- In this sense, the Narrator can be seen as representing Russell himself. Every writer has to make choices about what to include when they tell a story. The Narrator acts as the conscience; of the characters in the play and of the audience. During light-hearted moments, he reminds us (often symbols of superstition) of the tragedy to come which is inevitable, because it has already happened.
- Some people have suggested that he might represent the Devil, because he is always there, “right behind” the characters, an unseen part of their lives.