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Twins Character Analysis of Blood Brothers

Mickey

Mickey is the baby who is not chosen by Mrs Lyons, so he is brought up in the Johnstone family alongside seven older siblings. As a child, he is bored, excitable and sensitive, as shown by how upset he becomes after a play gunfight. He yearns for excitement and initially sees Sammy as a role model, someone who “plays with matches” and “wees straight through the letterbox.” However, through his friendship with Edward and Linda, he lives a more sensible life than his brother, as shown when Linda stops him from getting involved in Sammy’s violent dispute with the bus conductor.

He is suspicious of Edward at first, particularly when the boy hands him a sweet without him having to ask “bout twenty million times.” However, he takes pleasure in impressing Edward with his swear words and is eager to maintain Edward’s respect. He does this by pretending to know what a dictionary is, saying, “It’s a, it’s a thingy innit?”

Despite their class differences, the boys’ friendship quickly flourishes and continues throughout their teenage years alongside Linda. After many years of being too awkward to ask Linda to be his girlfriend, Edward helps him to do so. As a result, Mickey goes through a happy phase where he has a job, is expecting a child, and has a wedding on the horizon.

However, when Mickey is made redundant and feels the full weight of class oppression, he becomes bitter towards Edward for his carefree life at university. Edward’s lack of understanding about the real problems that Mickey faces intensifies this bitterness. Desperate to improve the situation for him and his family, he agrees to take part in a robbery with his brother, Sammy. This leads to his prison sentence, depression, addiction to pills and the breakdown of his marriage.

Mickey is a victim of the class system, someone who wants to work to support Linda and his child, but finds himself in an awful situation that spirals out of control. As he realises himself at the end, it could so easily have been him chosen by Mrs Lyons instead of Edward, screaming:

“Why didn’t you give me away! I could have been him!”

Mickey

Here, Willy Russell is showing the sense of random luck that affords some people opportunities in life that are denied to many others, simply because of the class they are born into.

Edward

Edward is chosen by Mrs Lyons, and therefore grows up as the only child in their comfortable and affluent household. He lives a sheltered life, unfamiliar with swear words, and in his world, sharing sweets doesn’t escalate into an aggressive power struggle. He is well-educated and uses a dictionary at the age of seven, while Mickey has never even heard of one.

However, much like Mickey, he also has a sense of childish naivety. For example, when Mickey mentions that Sammy has a “plate in his head,” Edward takes it literally, he asks, “A dinner plate? . . . A side plate?” This moment captures Edward’s genuine naivety and unfamiliarity with the figure of speech. Such innocent moments connect him and Mickey, allowing their friendship to blossom despite their class differences. Their mutual innocence helps them focus on the joy of their bond, rather than the societal divisions that might otherwise separate them.

Edward is impressionable, and easily influenced by Mickey and Linda, which Mrs Lyons realises with horror when he swears at her. Moving him away to the country and to his boarding school, he flourishes academically. However, he is shown to be bored and frustrated.

When his mother teaches him to dance, Edward complains that he can’t use these skills with any girls at his all-boys school. The dormant influence of Mickey and Linda resurfaces when a bullying teacher tries to make him remove the locket containing Mickey’s picture. He switches from an obedient, polite student into a more confident and street-smart young man who defends himself with a swear-filled outburst.

Despite his deep connection to Mickey and Linda, he is shown to be naïve about class differences, and it’s this that leads to the tension between him and Mickey. We see his naivety as a child when he suggests to Mrs Johnstone that she simply “buy a new house near us” in the countryside. He has no understanding of why this wouldn’t be possible for her.

Then, when Mickey is miserable about his redundancy, Edward shows his ignorance by asking, “why is a job so important?” He paints a romantic image of being unemployed where he would “tilt my hat to the world and say ‘screw you’.” As Mickey retorts, “I don’t wear a hat that I could tilt to the world.”

Edward rises to become an influential city councillor because of the lifetime of opportunities given to him. Although he uses his power to get Linda and Mickey a better housing and job situation, he also betrays his “blood brother” through his relationship with Linda. This leads to the tragic ending.

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