Blood Relations

Blood Relations Literary Elements


Drama, Mystery, Thriller



Setting and Context

Fall River, on a Sunday afternoon in the fall of 1902.

Narrator and Point of View

No narrator.

Tone and Mood

Dramatic, ominous, at times humorous, haunting, suspenseful.

Protagonist and Antagonist

The protagonist is Lizzie and the antagonist is her uncle Harry Wingate, stepmother Mrs. Borden, and father Mr. Borden

Major Conflict

The major conflict is between Lizzie, who wants to live a life considered not proper for a young lady, and her elders, who want her to behave in a certain way and want to hem in her independence.


The climax occurs when Lizzie murders her father.


When Mrs. Borden tells Lizzie she should not expect to live off her father’s wealth once he dies, it foreshadows her intentions to take away the childrens' inheritances.


Lizzie regularly understates things, as part of her wickedly playful and mercurial attitude towards everything.


Allusions to popular music from the turn of the century, and to details of the actual Lizzie Borden trial.


The image of the Actress as Lizzie holding up the hatchet to kill her father is a particularly striking one. The doubling of the Actress and Lizzie, and the ways they blend into one another's identities, is another fascinating element of the play.


Lizzie wants so badly to be treated well by her family, but she also resists in such a way that she only invites more resentment and mistreatment. Likewise, the family believes that they are being generous with her, but they cannot recognize the pain they are putting her through. This power struggle within the family is a paradoxical one.


One of the most important parallelisms in the play is drawn between Emma and Lizzie. The two are the complete opposite of one another, one being obedient and behaving as a proper child should and the other being rebellious and choosing to live her life as she wants. Additionally, the Actress and Lizzie are parallels for one another, as the Actress even embodies the character of Lizzie within the reenactment. Finally, Bridget is a parallel for Lizzie, a working-class confidant and friend whom Lizzie embodies in the reenactment.


Use of Dramatic Devices

The entire reenactment is a dramatic device, in which visions of the past creep back into the stage, and Lizzie plays the maid, while the Actress plays Lizzie. Other dramatic devices include dramatic sound cues, soliloquies and monologues, and the final moment, in which the Actress breaks the fourth wall to look at the audience.