Mickey Johnstone

Mickey is the twin brother who is brought up by his biological mother with his seven older siblings. We first meet him when he is seven years old and he is friendly and excitable. He looks up to his brother Sammy, and is jealous of the freedom that he has. Mickey is close to his mother throughout the play and they have a good relationship. Mickey is outgoing when he meets Edward and immediately accepts him as a close friend, despite their differences. When he meets Edward, his lack of education and his use of swear words and slang are emphasised by the contrast with his blood brother, who is well educated and does not know any swear words. He is shown to be loyal and loving towards his friends Edward and Linda.

When he is a teenager, Mickey is awkward and shy, particularly with Linda - who he has feelings for, which he is unable to express. He still lacks a good education and behaves badly at school, getting suspended for being rude to a teacher. Although Sammy is a very bad role model for him, Linda stops Mickey from being influenced by his older brother by keeping him from getting involved with violent acts like threatening the bus conductor. When he meets Edward again, after years apart since Edward and his family moved away to the country, they immediately rekindle their close friendship.

As an adult, Mickey’s energy and positivity are destroyed by his experience of hopeless unemployment and being unable to support his new wife, Linda, and their child. This leads to him becoming angry and jealous of Edward. After being sent to prison for his involvement in Sammy’s armed robbery, Mickey becomes depressed, affecting his marriage with Linda and his self-esteem.

Friendly

How is Mickey like this?

He is happy to meet Edward and make friends with him, and accepts him as his best friend quickly.

Evidence

See this means that we’re blood brothers, an’ that we always have to stand by each other.

Analysis

Mickey demonstrates his loyalty to his friend and sees their relationship as permanent. Friendship is clearly very important to Mickey as he views his new friend as an extension of his family.

Uneducated

How is Mickey like this?

Mickey is less educated that Edward. He swears and uses slang and does not know what a dictionary is.

Evidence

EDWARD
[Awed] Pissed off. You say smashing things, don’t you? Do you know any more words like that?
MICKEY
Yeh. Yeh, I know loads of words like that. Y’know like the ‘F’ word.

Analysis

Whereas Edward knows about things like dictionaries, Mickey knows swear words and speaks with a strong Liverpudlian accent. He is more streetwise than his new friend. He also shows his innocence here though, as he admits to Edward that he doesn’t really know what the ‘f’ word means.

Frustrated

How is Mickey like this?

When he loses his job, Mickey feels more hopeless and is angry with Edward when he doesn’t understand the situation he is in.

Evidence

EDWARD
I thought, I thought we always stuck together. I thought we were... were blood brothers.
MICKEY
That was kids’ stuff, Eddie. Didn’t anyone tell y? [He looks at EDWARD.] But I suppose you still are a kid, aren’t ye?

Analysis

Mickey has to grow up quickly as a teenager. He leaves school in order to get a job and then has to support his new wife Linda after she falls pregnant. He is only 18 when he loses his job, leaving him in a desperate situation. This means he becomes resentful at a young age, which Edward is unable to understand. Mickey reacts very angrily to his friend’s lack of empathy.

Bitter

How is Mickey like this?

At the end of the play, Mickey is bitter about the differences in the life that he has led in comparison to Edward’s.

Evidence

Well, how come you got everything... an’ I got nothin’?

Analysis

As a result of their different social classes, Mickey’s life has followed a completely different path to Edward’s. By the end of the play, even Mickey’s wife isn’t really his anymore because she has betrayed him with Edward. Mickey references how unfair his life has been in his final line of the play: I could have been him!

Analysing the evidence

Edward
Mickey, what’s wrong?
Mickey
You. You’re a dick head!
[EDWARD is slightly unsure but laughs anyway.]
Mickey
There are no parties arranged. There is no booze or music. Christmas? I’m sick to the teeth of Christmas an’ it isn’t even here yet. See, there’s very little to celebrate, Eddie. Since you left I’ve been walking around all day, every day, lookin’ for a job.
Edward
What about the job you had?
Mickey
It disappeared. [Pause.] Y’know somethin’, I bleedin’ hated that job, standin’ there all day never doin’ nothin’ but put cardboard boxes together. I used to get … used to get terrified that I’d have to do it for the rest of me life. But, but after three months of nothin’, the same answer everywhere, nothin’, nothin’ down for y’, I’d crawl back to that job for half the pay and double the hours. Just... just makin’ up boxes it was.
Question

How does Russell demonstrate Mickey’s frustration at his unemployment?

  • Russell emphasises the hopelessness of Mickey’s situation and the fact that he has been looking for a job all day, every day with no luck. His search seems endless and it is depressing for him to have to do the same thing constantly without any luck.
  • Mickey repeats the word nothin’ to reinforce how empty his life feels without having a purpose and a means of supporting his family.
  • Mickey’s desperation is presented through his description of his old job. Although it was repetitive labour, he would crawl back, suggesting that he is willing to do anything to get out of his current situation.