Mrs Johnstone’s superstition is revealed early on in Blood Brothers and is one of the things that gives Mrs Lyons power over her. This is linked to fate and destiny, because Mickey and Edward’s death is shown to be inevitable from the opening scene, making the superstition Mrs Lyons tells Mrs Johnstone about the twins come true. The narrator is a key character for this theme, as he reminds the audience of the twins’ fate at several different points of the play. However, while superstition and fate are very important themes in Blood Brothers, Russell questions whether they really exist or whether social class is more important in determining Mickey and Edward’s futures.
Mrs Johnstone is horrified when Mrs Lyons places new shoes on the table, revealing that she is superstitious.
You never put new shoes on the table.
Superstition is immediately linked to the working class, because Mrs Johnstone is superstitious whereas Mrs Lyons isn’t. This gives Mrs Lyons power over her employee when she wants to make sure that Mrs Johnstone doesn’t tell anyone about the twins being split up.
Mrs Lyons uses her knowledge that Mrs Johnstone is superstitious to ensure that she does not tell anyone about giving away one of the twins.
They … they say that if either twin learns that he once was a pair, they shall both immediately die.
This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The audience is already aware that the twins will die because of the opening of the play, so everything that happens is linked to this. Although Mrs Lyons has invented the superstition, her behaviour actually leads to the tragedy of Mickey’s death because she is the one to point out to him that Edward and Linda have betrayed him.
The narrator’s song Shoes upon the Table serves as a reminder throughout the play of the boys’ fate and the mothers’ guilt.
Y’ know the devil’s got your number / Y’ know he’s gonna find y’
This song is repeated at several points, so the narrator continually reminds the audience that Mickey and Edward cannot escape their fate. Even at happy moments of the play, the Narrator references the curse that Mrs Johnstone and Mrs Lyons have brought upon the twins.
At the end of the play, the Narrator questions the audience about whether superstition and fate can really be blamed for the tragic death of the twins.
Do we blame superstition for what came to pass? Or could it be what we, the English, have come to know as class?
Although the Narrator has raised the idea of the curse on Mickey and Edward throughout the play, this line reminds the audience that what is really important is the social inequality that led to Mickey’s imprisonment, and his emotional and mental decline following that. Maybe the inevitability of the twins’ deaths is really a result of society being unfair, rather than a made-up superstition.
How does Russell explore the theme of superstition and fate in Blood Brothers?