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Borden and Charles Kerr as Mr. It won the Governor General's Award in The trials of the accused are performed as theatrical spectacles on television and in the press. Events and characters are probed for causes and reasons.
Blood Relations Characters
Murder theories multiply as public opinion shifts, and individual acts are placed in broader social and political contexts. The trial of the infamous Lizzie Borden, accused of the murder of her father and stepmother in , is a case in point. The most plausible, however, point to Lizzie, including a thorough account by Edmund Pearson which reproduces the court transcript, entitled The Trial Book of Lizzie Borden , and comprehensive investigation by Edwin H.
Lizzie Borden was born in Fall River, Massachusetts in , the youngest daughter of a wealthy but parsimonious businessman.
Introduction & Overview of Blood Relations
She believed that Abbie would inherit most of the estate, and that her opportunity for financial independence would be lost. American women in the s and 90s inhabited a limited space, and were becoming increasingly restless over the restrictions and expectations. As Mr. By women in most States could own or control property, but inequalities of civil status remained.
They were still confined in tight corsets and impeded by long trailing skirts, flounces and bustles. Although improvements in domestic conveniences liberated middle-class women from household drudgery, allowing more time for a wider participation in society, the traditional prejudice against self-support remained entrenched.
The aspiration of many young women was the freedom to develop their own personalities through education, work, or club activities, which became training schools for humanitarian, political, and social leaders, including suffragettes and feminists. Is it possible for any novel, within the next fifty years, truly to depict her as a finality, when she is still emerging from new conditions, The face of today is stamped with restlessness, wandering purpose, and self-consciousness.
In Blood Relations , Miss Lizzie attempts to find for herself a freer existence, but which she can only imagine through dreams or through role-playing. On the morning of August 4, , Lizzie reported to Bridget Sullivan, the Irish maid, her discovery of the bloody body of her father sprawled on the sofa in the sitting room, and instructed her to fetch the family physician, Dr.
When the doctor and the police arrived, they also found the body of Abby Borden upstairs, her head similarly crushed by multiple axe blows. Bridget Sullivan testified that she had been in her own attic room, resting from cleaning windows on a very hot day. She had neither heard nor seen anything unusual.
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Lizzie claimed that she had been in the barn, although the undisturbed dust on the barn floor seemed to indicate otherwise. Emma was out of town visiting friends. Four axes were discovered in the basement, one without a handle, and the head covered in ashes. At the inquest, it was also revealed that Lizzie had bought prussic acid from a local pharmacy the day before, and that Abby and Andrew Borden had been ill that morning.
Lizzie was arrested for murder and the trial date set for June 5, The trial lasted fourteen days, and caused a national sensation: it was the first public trial in the United States to be covered extensively by the media.
Popular opinion was split on the innocence or guilt of Lizzie Borden, with strong support coming from feminists and animal rights advocates.
The legal rhetoric of the lawyer for the Defense as recorded in the trial transcripts is passionate, persuasive, and very playworthy:. To find her guilty you must believe she is a fiend.
Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia
Does she look it? As she sat here these long weary days and moved in and out before you, have you seen anything that shows the lack of human feeling and womanly bearing?
Do I plead for her sister? Do I plead for Lizzie Andrew Borden herself? Yes, I ask you to consider her, to put her into the scale as a woman among us all, to say as you have her in charge to the Commonwealth whom you represent: It is not just to hold her a minute longer, and pleading for her I plead for you and myself and all of us that the verdict you shall register in this most important case shall not only commend your approval now, unqualified and beyond reasonable doubt, but shall stand sanctioned and commended by the people everywhere in the world who are listening by the telegraphic wire to know what is the outcome as to her.
She is not without sympathy in this world. This impassioned tone is also evident in the statement for the Defense in Blood Relations , reflecting a male bias against the possibility of women committing such atrocities:. Gentlemen of the Jury!! I ask you to look at the defendant, Miss Lizzie Borden. I ask you to recall the nature of the crime of which she is accused.
Is this the aid we give her? Accusation of the most heinous and infamous of crimes? Do you believe Miss Lizzie Borden capable of these acts? I can tell you I do not!! I can tell you these acts of violence are acts of madness!! Although her testimony at the inquest was contradictory and confused, at her trial she was calm, impassive, and inscrutable.
I leave it to my counsel to speak for me.
And in Blood Relations, Miss Lizzie also evades direct testimony. Her part is enacted by her friend, an actress from Boston, and she assumes the role of the maid Bridget, an observer and director of the replay of the events that culminated in the murder of the Bordens.
This framework establishes the possibility of multiple perspectives. The past is played out as theatre, as is the trial.
Blood Relations ACT 2
In effect, however, she continued a life of social circumscription, even more limited than before the murders, since she was ostracized by the community. She died in and was buried in the Borden family plot.
She left her estate to animal care organizations. It has traveled to Japan, Australia, and England, and no mystery here to many theatres in the United States. Its conflation of acting with self-disclosure, of confession with subterfuge, of compulsion with repression, is endlessly intriguing.
They provoke and challenge.
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Finally, they direct their questions at the audience. Who is responsible for these crimes against humanity? Perhaps no one is innocent. Sharon Pollock. Blood Relations and Other Plays. Anne Nothof. Edmonton: NeWest Press, Sharon Pollock Collected Works, Vols 1, 2, and 3. Cynthia Zimmerman. Toronto: Playwrights Canada Press. Last updated Since October , Athabasca University has hosted the web site, with an editorial board of theatre scholars from across Canada.
To submit an entry, please consult the guidelines for submissions. The Encyclopedia collects and disseminates information on plays, playwrights and theatre practitioners.
It does not respond to requests for information, auditions, bookings, or tickets.
The Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia web site was originally conceived and developed in by Gaetan Charlebois—theatre critic, playwright, and actor. Since October , Athabasca University has hosted the web site, with an editorial board of theatre scholars from across Canada.