How Setting Affects the Main Character

The play I have studied is Blood Brothers by Willy Russell. The character I am going to discuss is Mickey Johnstone.

Mickey is affected by his setting due to the bad influences, which are all around him. His dad walked out on him before he was born. Sammy, his older brother, is always in trouble. For example, he pees through the neighbours’ letterboxes and is always playing with guns and cursing. This shapes the way Mickey behaves from a very young age.

Mickey is also affected by poverty. His area is very poor and they have very little money. We know this because his mum was forced to give up his twin brother, who he thinks is dead. We see how tough life is for Mrs Johnstone when the bailiffs come to take away her things because she can’t afford to pay for them. The children are often hungry and social services have threatened to take them away. The poverty is an example of how Mickey is affected by the setting.

We see how much social class affects Mickey’s life when he and Edward are caught throwing stones. The police officer takes Mickey home and tells his mum that the next time this happens, he will be in court. He also calls Mickey, ‘a little bastard,’ and hits him over the head. We see a huge difference in the attitude of the policeman towards Edward and his father. He laughs about the prank and tells Edward’s father that he shouldn’t be hanging around with the likes of Mickey. This example shows how important social class was in the setting of the play and how much it affected Mickey.

As the play progresses, we see how Mickey is affected by his setting when at eighteen, he has to go work in the factory, while Edward goes off to university. It is important to note that Edward’s dad owned the factory. Mickey hates the factory, but needs the job when he finds out that Linda is pregnant and they have to get married. He ends up losing his job in the factory and is out of work. We see how the unemployment in the area affects Mickey and he is seen wandering around the city looking for work.

We see how much the setting affects Mickey when he agrees to help Sammy with a robbery. He only does this because he needs the money to take Linda out for dinner. Because of this, he ends up in prison for seven years and becomes depressed and addicted to anti-depressants. Mickey would not have done this if he had a normal job like Edward. This shows the effects of his setting on his life.

A perfect example of the effect of the setting on Mickey’s life is seen in the final scene, when Mrs Johnstone reveals that they are brothers and Mickey says, ‘I could have been him.’ This shows that the only difference between Mickey and Edward is the worlds they grew up in and how the settings affected how their lives turned out. This sad ending highlights the effect that our setting has on how our lives turn out.


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