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Themes and Symbols in "Blood Brothers"

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Keighley Perkins

on 27 January 2014

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Transcript of Themes and Symbols in "Blood Brothers"

Themes in "Blood Brothers"
Nature versus Nurture
Mickey and Edward are identical twins, which suggests that the difference in the way they grow up must be due to their different upbringings and social class.

Russell seems to be using the twins to suggest that attitudes in society influence people's lives more than their individual efforts.

Due to this, "Blood Brothers" can be seen to attacking Thatcher's idea that everyone who wanted to work hard could be successful.
Growing Up
Growing up is a common theme in literature.

In Act One, life is a carefree game for the children, but the pressures of growing up in different backgrounds and educational systems bring problems later on.

It is the different experience of growing up that causes Edward and Mickey's friendship to break down as they no longer have anything in common anymore.
Education in "Blood Brothers" links to social class.

Throughout the musical, Russell shows that wealth brings different educational opportunities, which leads to a different lifestyle.

Eddie and Mickey are educated differently and, as such, lead different lives. As Mickey does not have a better education, he has fewer options, resulting in crime, drug addiction and depression.

Education also shapes the lives of Mrs Johnstone and Mrs Lyons as Mrs Johnstone falls into poverty without her husband as she has no education to provide her a means of escape.

However, Mrs Lyons has a middle-class education. Despite this, she is still not self-reliant, suggesting that women's traditional roles limit their freedom.
Social Class
The Johnstones and the Lyons come two different social classes.

Russell explores the way how those of a higher class are more privileged that those of a lower class, especially by the law.

Through the four main characters of the play, Russell emphasises important differences in social class and the unfairness this results in by using social stereotypes.

Men and Women
The three main women in the play suffer at the hands of the men in their lives as they are either let down by them or receive no affection from them.

Russell presents the audience with a world where the roles of men and women are sharply separate.

The roles given to men and women are dependent on their social classes. Despite this, the female characters are seen to be more passive, while the male characters are seen as more active.
Fate, Bad Luck and Destiny
Each of the major characters becomes trapped and plagued by different kinds of misfortune and bad luck.

Russell raises questions as whether there is such a thing as fate or destiny and whether life pans out because of supernatural or natural reasons.

Therefore, the entire musical questions whether these such things actually exist.
Despite their social differences, the friendship between Eddie and Mickey is initially very strong. Russell seems to be saying that human nature is blind to social conventions as the bonds make friends easily despite their parents not approving.

However, once unemployment and poverty hits Mickey, Edward seems to come from a different world. Once the two characters go their separate ways, shaped and moulded by education, wealth and social status, tensions develop between them, suggesting that friendship depends on shared experiences.
The themes in any literary work are the underlying ideas that probably prompted the work to be created.

Creating a play that might end up being viewed by a wide audience is an effective way of getting Russell's ideas across in a persuasive and influential way.

The main themes in Blood Brothers are connected with differences in social class and the effect these have on people's lives.

Although superstition plays a huge role in the play, there political message seems to suggest that it is real-world social forces that shape people's lives.
The Individual and Society
Throughout the musical, Russell illustrates the influence that society has on individuals, their education, behaviour and the opportunities they have through the way that the twins grow up and the lives that they lead.

This idea is explored more significantly through Mickey's final words of the play, "I could have been him".

There is the sense that, despite the fact that he has worked hard throughout his life, Mickey has been unable to achieve anything whereas Edward gets everything he wants with little effort.
"Blood Brothers" revolves around the idea of money and materialism.

Mrs Johnstone is continually in debt, which leads to problems for her, but Mrs Lyons' wealthy life fails to bring her happiness either.

Money controls Edward and Mickey's relationship too as, when Edward returns from University to a penniless Mickey, their friendship cannot be the same as Edward cannot understand Mickey's reaction to his unemployment and Mickey cannot accept financial aid from Edward.
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