You will be given a choice of two essay questions about Blood Brothers in the exam; you need to choose one to answer. They will usually be about specific characters or themes in the text. The examiners are looking for you to demonstrate good knowledge of the whole play. You must have a clear idea about:
You should be able to use some key quotations from the text, which you have remembered (you will not be allowed a book in the exam). You should structure your answer logically, with a brief introduction and conclusion.
Why does Willy Russell show the audience the death of Mickey and Edward at the very start of the play?
mother, so cruelbut then she immediately describes how hard her life is so we feel sympathy for her.
The Narrator comes onstage and narrates the prologue at the beginning of the play. The bodies of the twins are onstage at the same time as this. In the prologue, the Narrator talks about the twins dying and describes how it happened: they didn’t know that they were twins until the day that they died and then their mother was upset about their death. He then says that the audience should judge the twins’ mother for the role she played in the death of Mickey and Edward, blaming her for what has happened to them.
While the dead bodies of Mickey and Edward are shown on stage, the Narrator narrates the prologue. In this, he says that the audience should judge the twins’ mother, Mrs Johnstone, for her part in the tragic ending. He describes her as a
mother so cruel. This makes the audience judge her badly straight away and think she is to blame, so the opening gives us a negative impression of her. However, when she comes on stage after the prologue, she describes her difficult life, making the audience feel sorry for her. In this way, the opening of the play seems to be showing that it is wrong to make quick judgements.
Russell shows that violence is important in the play by showing the death of the twins at the beginning. The Narrator says during the prologue that Mrs Johnstone cries
my own dear sons lie slain, describing the deaths of Mickey and Edward. Violence is a big part of the play and it features at several different points, so having it at the start shows that it is an important theme.
Through revealing the death of the twins early on in the play, Russell establishes the significance of violence in the characters’ lives immediately. The prologue describes their mother’s reaction as crying
my own dear sons lie slain, the word ‘slain’ emphasising the violence and futility of their deaths. The finality of Mickey and Edward’s deaths also demonstrates the futility of violence and how this will always ultimately lead to destruction. This is also emphasised through the staging of the play, as the overture is repeated at the beginning and end of the play, representing the inescapability of the repercussions of violence.