Throughout the musical Blood Brothers, the theme of class and money plays a dominant role, controlling characters’ actions and determining their lives. This pattern begins when Mrs. Johnstone makes the fateful decision to give away one of her twin boys to her employer Mrs. Lyons. She does so not because she doesn’t want two babies, but because she simply can’t afford two extra mouths to feed. Thus the action that sets the entire narrative in motion in fact stems from the forces of class and money. The all-powerful nature of these ideas is then evident throughout the rest of the narrative as well, as Mickey and Edward’s lives diverge drastically due to their differing financial circumstances. Although linked by genetics and similar in temperament, the unknowing twin brothers have vastly contrasting lives. While Mickey spirals further and further into drugs, depression, and crime because of his poverty, Edward finds doors opened for him at every turn due to his wealth.
Although playwright Willy Russell takes care to emphasize that class and money are nearly unstoppable forces, he also makes sure to show all of the ways that they can be overcome. For example, the poor Mrs. Johnstone is a loving, caring, and grounded individual, while in contrast, the wealthy Mrs. Lyons is neurotic, unstable, and (eventually) evil. Mrs. Lyons may be upper-class and cultured, but it’s Mrs. Johnstone who becomes the moral center of the play. Similarly the kinship among Edward, Mickey, and Linda shows how people can overcome the barriers of class. Although Mickey and Linda are poor and ignorant compared to the refined Edward, the three share a tight bond. In the end, however, their relationships are eventually torn apart by money and class—the same forces that they seemed to overcome. Ultimately Russell shows the cost of the economic realities of his society, and the terrible toll they take on individuals’ lives.
Class and Money ThemeTracker
Class and Money Quotes in Blood Brothers
MRS. JOHNSTONE: Oh God, Mrs. Lyons, never put new shoes on a table…You never know what’ll happen.
MRS. LYONS: Oh…you mean you’re superstitious?
MRS. JOHNSTONE: No, but you never put new shoes on a table.
Only mine until
The time comes round
To pay the bill.
Then, I’m afraid,
What can’t be paid
Must be returned.
You never, ever learn,
That nothing’s yours,
On easy terms.
You’re always gonna know what was done
Even when you shut your eyes you still see
That you sold a son
And you can’t tell anyone.
But y’know the devil’s got your number,
Y’know he’s gonna find y’,
Y’know he’s right behind y’,
Yes, y’know the devil’s got your number
And he’s knocking at your door.
You see, you see why I don’t want you mixing with boys like that! You learn filth from them and behave like this like a, like a horrible little boy, like them. But you are not like them. You are my son, mine, and you won’t..you won’t ever…Oh my son…my beautiful, beautiful son.
MRS. LYONS:…If we stay here I feel that something terrible will happen, something bad.
MR. LYONS: Look, Jen. What is this thing you keep talking about getting away from? Mm?
MRS. LYONS: It’s just…it’s these people…these people that Edward has started mixing with. Can’t you see how he’s drawn to them? They’re…they’re drawing him away from me.
Happy, are y’. Content at last?
Wiped out what happened, forgotten the past?
But you’ve got to have an endin’, if a start’s been made.
No one gets off without the price bein’ paid.
EDWARD: I wish I was a bit like
Wish that I could score a hit like
And be just a little bit like
MICKEY: I wish that I could be like
Just a little less like me
Like the sort of guy I see, like
MRS. LYONS: Afraid he might eventually have forgotten you? Oh no. There’s no chance of that. He’ll always remember you. After we’d moved he talked less and less of you and your family. I started…just for a while I came to believe that he was actually mine.
MRS. JOHNSTONE: He is yours.
MRS. LYONS: No. I took him. But I never made him mine. Does he know? Have you told…
MRS. JOHNSTONE: Of course not!
MRS. LYONS: Even when—when he was a tiny baby I’d see him looking straight at me and I’d think, he knows…he knows. You have ruined me. But you won’t ruin Edward!
Take a letter, Miss Jones,
Due to the world situation
The shrinking pound, the global slump
And the price of oil
I’m afraid we must fire you,
We no longer require you,
It’s just another
Sign of the times,
A most miserable sign of the times.
EDWARD: I thought, I thought we always stuck together. I thought we were…blood brothers.
MICKEY: That was kids’ stuff, Eddie. Didn’t anyone tell y’? But I suppose you still are a kid, aren’t y’?
EDWARD: I’m exactly the same age as you, Mickey.
MICKEY: Yeh. But you’re still a kid. An’ I wish I could be as well Eddie, I wish I could still believe in all that blood brother stuff. But I can’t, because while no one was looking I grew up. An’ you didn’t, because you didn’t need to; an’ I don’t blame y’ for it Eddie. In your shoes I’d be the same, I’d still be able to be a kid. But I’m not in your shoes, I’m in these, lookin’ at you. An’ you make me sick, right? That was all just kids’ stuff, Eddie, an’ I don’t want to be reminded of it. Right? So just, just take yourself away. Go an’ see your friends an’ celebrate with them.
I didn’t sort anythin’ out Linda. Not a job, not a house, nothin’. It used to be just sweets an’ ciggies he gave me, because I had none of me own. Now it’s a job and a house. I’m not stupid, Linda. You sorted it out. You an’ Councilor Eddie Lyons.
MRS. JOHNSTONE: Mickey. Don’t shoot Eddie. He’s your brother. You had a twin brother. I couldn’t afford to keep both of you. His mother couldn’t have kids. I agreed to give one of you away!
MICKEY: You. You! Why didn’t you give me away? I could have been…I could have been him!
And do we blame superstition for what came to pass?
Or could it be what we, the English, have come to know as class?