Lizzie Borden is the protagonist of the play. Here, she is living alone with her sister and carrying on an affair with The Actress, who comes down from Boston to visit her. She is very squirrelly and ambiguous about her part in her parents' murders, even though everyone believes that she did it. In the reenactment of the past that she does with the Actress, she plays Bridget, the Irish maid who worked for the Bordens.
Lizzie, as portrayed by the Actress, is insecure, depressive, and driven mad by her mistreatment at the hands of her father and stepmother. She worries that she will be robbed of all of her inheritance and desperately wants independence even though that is virtually impossible for a woman at this time. She does not wish to marry and has always worried that she is not ladylike enough.
Dr. Patrick is a married Irish doctor with whom Lizzie strikes up a friendship. While everyone in town believes it to be an affair, and Dr. Patrick is ready to run away with her, Lizzie is only being his friend as a kind of game, a way of exhibiting her independent spirit. Dr. Patrick is smitten with Lizzie's independent and witty attitude, and likes talking to her.
Emma is Lizzie's older sister, who is rather meek and does not like to get in the middle of conflict. While she shares many of Lizzie's gripes with their father and stepmother, she does not want to rebel with the same ferocity that Lizzie does. After the deaths of their parents, Emma lives with Lizzie and often asks Lizzie if she did in fact kill their parents.
Bridget is played by the real Lizzie Borden in the play. In the play, she is presented as the maid of the Bordens, someone who is more sympathetic to Lizzie's plight than anyone in Lizzie's family. As portrayed by Lizzie, she is kind-hearted and pure-intentioned, not wanting to sell Lizzie out, but also worried about the consequences of the murder.
Mrs. Borden is Lizzie and Emma's stepmother. Lizzie and Mrs. Borden have a very unhealthy relationship, and Lizzie absolutely hates her. Lizzie thinks that Mrs. Borden is jealous of the attention that Lizzie's father gives her, while Mrs. Borden judges Lizzie for being so unconventional and not seeking out a sensible marriage.
Mr. Borden is Lizzie's father, a man who is constantly torn between his wife's and Lizzie's wishes. He is very rich, and has a large estate, but is referred to as miserly and cheap throughout the play. He is scared of Lizzie, and while he feels great affection for her, wishes she would be more of a conformist and try and fit in with society. He is an abusive man, who is driven to hitting Lizzie and harming her beloved pigeons in order to prove his patriarchal dominance. In the contrast between his loving attitudes towards Lizzie and his violent abuse, Mr. Borden is a complicated antagonist.
The Actress is an actress from Boston who comes to visit Lizzie in Fall River, and with whom she is alleged to be having an affair. She is a little afraid of Lizzie, and Lizzie suggests that one of the reasons that the Actress even has a career is because of their relationship.
Harry Wingate is Mrs. Borden's brother, an avaricious and lustful man who wants control over both Lizzie's body (he regularly sexually harasses her) and her estate, devising ways for himself and Mrs. Borden to gain custody of Mr. Borden's assets.
Blood Relations Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Blood Relations is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Blood Relations seems to imply that Lizzie had reason for the murders of her family. These reasons were based upon her father's killing of the birds, as well as his fear of his daughter.... Lizzie's jealousy of her sister, and what is described as...