Blood Relations

Blood Relations Quotes and Analysis

"Lizzie Borden took an axe, gave her mother forty whacks! When the job was nicely done, she gave her father forty one.’’

The Actress, relaying the song she heard

In the beginning of the first act, Lizzie has a conversation with the Actress, who tells her that she heard some children outside the theater she was performing at singing a song about Lizzie. The song refers to Lizzie's alleged murder of her parents, a sing-song-y ode to the grisly tale.

"Did you? Lizzie! Did you?’’

The Actress

Both the Actress and Lizzie's sister Emma ask her this throughout the play, but the first instance of the question is when the Actress asks at the beginning of the play. She wants to know if Lizzie actually killed her parents, or if she was rightfully acquitted.

"A man who can’t handle his own daughter! How is he going to handle a business? That’s what people are going to say!’’

Harry Wingate

Harry Wingate, Mrs. Borden's brother and Lizzie's step-uncle, says this as a way of convincing Mr. Borden that he has to be tougher on his headstrong daughter. He implies that the fact that Lizzie is so liberated is proof of Mr. Borden's failings as a father. In this way, he is manipulating Mr. Borden into being more controlling of his daughter.

"It's bad enough Papa's worth thousands of dollars, and here we are, stuck in this tiny bit of a house on Second Street, when we should be up on the hill and that's her doing. Or her's and Harry's."


Lizzie says this to Emma, early in the reenactment, alluding to the fact that their father gives them no financial control of their futures, because he is so influenced by their self-serving stepmother. Lizzie wants to get Emma to rebel with her, in spite of Emma's desire to minimize conflict.

"If everything else fails, she throws a tantrum and her father buys her off, trip to Europe, rent to the mill house, it's all the same."

Mrs. Borden

Mrs. Borden, in speaking to Emma, bemoans the fact that Lizzie is so good at getting what she wants out of Mr. Borden. This illuminates Mrs. Borden's jealousy of Emma, her feeling that Emma has too much influence over her father.

"You're saying I'm I supposed to agree, is that what you want?"


Mr. Borden tries to be more assertive and domineering towards his willful daughter, suggesting that she ought to be married and have children. She responds defensively, with this line. Here we see just how fragile Lizzie's ego is, and how she fears that others see her as unnatural, in spite of having such an outwardly confident demeanor.

"You kill them."

Miss Lizzie/Bridget

Before the definitive murder scene, the Actress, who is playing Lizzie, consults with the real Lizzie, who is playing Bridget, about how she is doing. The real Lizzie tells her this, simply—indicating that, in the reenactment, Lizzie kills her parents. This also serves as some kind of confession, yet Lizzie does not make it clear whether she is serious or not.

"I went out back...through the yard...I picked up several pears from the ground beneath the trees...I went into the shed...I stood looking out the window and ate the pears..."


This is a small and strange bit of testimony that Lizzie gives to the Defense in a flash of her time in court. She gives an account of the time that she was outside when her father was killed, an alibi for the murder.

"Yes. When a person dies, retained on her eye is the image of the last thing she saw. Isn't that interesting?"


Lizzie says this to Mrs. Borden in the reenactment, just before she follows her up the stairs and kills her. She suggests that when someone dies, their eyes are imprinted with the last thing they saw. It is a disturbing meditation on the moment of death that puts Mrs. Borden even more on edge with the apparently unhinged Lizzie.

"I would not want you to find out anything that would make you hate me. Because I love you."


Lizzie says this to her father when he returns home unexpectedly after she has killed Mrs. Borden. She obliquely alludes to the fact that she murdered her stepmother and expresses the fact that she does not want her father to find out about her deed.