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English Literature

Character

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Narrator and other characters

The narrator

  • Russell creates a ‘character’ of the narrator, who acts a little like the Greek ‘Chorus’ from ancient tragedy whose role is to explain some of the key action on stage. The narrator also involves the audience by asking them directly to judge what they see. He helps to make sure that the audience stay a little ‘detached’ from the events of the play. He also helps them remember that this is a ‘story’.

  • He reveals that the brothers die at the very start of the play and from then on constantly reminds the audience of the twins’ fate. He presents the themes of fate, destiny and superstition throughout the play, but at the end he asks the audience to consider if it was social forces rather than 'fate' that caused the tragedy.

Policeman, Milkman, Judge, Teachers

  • These minor characters are created for various dramatic purposes. They either lack sympathy or are unfair and two-faced when dealing with others. They represent social institutions, which Russell seems to suggest are prejudiced.

  • The policeman is friendly at the wealthy Lyons’ house, but in contrast is harsh when dealing with the Johnstones.

  • The milkman won’t listen to Mrs Johnstone’s valid excuses initially, but once she has some money at her new home he is pleasant and flirts with her.

  • The judge gives Sammy a lighter sentence than would have normally have been handed out, but this is only because he is attracted to Mrs Johnstone’s appearance.

  • Edward’s schoolteacher is petty and takes the side of Edward’s bullying classmates. Mickey is certainly awkward and disrespectful to his teacher, but he and Linda are suspended for minor things. The teacher does not bother to answer Mickey’s questions, even though they seem quite justified.

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