Superstition and fate

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 superstitious

How does Russell show this?

Mrs Johnstone is horrified when Mrs Lyons places new shoes on the table, revealing that she is superstitious.

Evidence

You never put new shoes on the table.

Analysis

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 makes up a superstition about the twins

How does Russell show this?

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.

Evidence

They … they say that if either twin learns that he once was a pair, they shall both immediately die.

Analysis

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 reinforces the idea of fate throughout the play

How does Russell show this?

The narrator’s song Shoes upon the Table serves as a reminder throughout the play of the boys’ fate and the mothers’ guilt.

Evidence

Y’ know the devil’s got your number / Y’ know he’s gonna find y’

Analysis

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.

Russell questions the true importance of superstition and fate

How does Russell show this?

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.

Evidence

Do we blame superstition for what came to pass? Or could it be what we, the English, have come to know as class?

Analysis

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.

Question

How does Russell explore the theme of superstition and fate in Blood Brothers?

  • Showing that the superstition Mrs Lyons tells Mrs Johnstone at the start of the play will come true.
  • The Narrator’s song Shoes upon the Table, reminding the mothers of their guilt and the consequences of splitting up the twins.
  • Linking destiny to social class to make the audience question what has more power over the characters’ lives.
  • The deaths of Mickey and Edward are shown to be inevitable from the opening scene of the play. No matter what they do, nothing can change their destiny.
  • The Narrator is used to remind both the audience and the boys’ mothers of the curse that they have brought upon Mickey and Edward.
  • Superstition is linked to social class, first through Mrs Johnstone being superstitious; whereas Mrs Lyons isn’t and secondly through the Narrator’s final comments about what is really to blame for the death of the twins.