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3. They Both Die at the End
About this Lecture
In this module, we think about the structure of the play, in particular Russell's decision to show us at the beginning of the play what happens at the end. As we move through the module, we consider: (i) the concept of Bildungsroman and the extent to which the play represents a journey; (ii) the literary antecedents for a playwright telling their audience what will happen at the end of the play, not least Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet; and (iii) the extent to which a play can elicit pity, sympathy and tension even when the audience has been told what is going to happen.
In this course, Professor John McRae (University of Nottingham) explores Willy Russell's Blood Brothers. The first six modules serve as an introduction to play, exploring the play's historical context, the extent to which it is a 'Brechtian' play, the fact that we are told in the very first scene what will happen at the end, and the themes of superstition, nature and nurture, and destiny and fate. In the following nine modules, we go through the play scene by scene, providing close reading and detailed analysis, with commentary on character, plot, themes, language, symbolism, and more.
Note: We use the Methuen Drama version of the play (ed. Jim Mulligan). Students using a different version of the play may encounter slight differences in the page numbers.
John McRae is Special Professor of Language in Literature Studies and Teaching Associate in the School of English at Nottingham University, and holds Visiting Professorships in China, Malaysia, Spain and the USA. He is co-author of The Routledge History of Literature in English with Ron Carter, and also wrote The Language of Poetry, Literature with a Small 'l' and the first critical edition of Teleny by Oscar Wilde and others.
Cite this Lecture
McRae, J. (2022, January 29). Russell: Blood Brothers - They Both Die at the End [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://massolit.io/courses/russell-blood-brothers/they-both-die-at-the-end
McRae, J. "Russell: Blood Brothers – They Both Die at the End." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 29 Jan 2022, https://massolit.io/courses/russell-blood-brothers/they-both-die-at-the-end