Blood Relations

Blood Relations Summary and Analysis of Part 2


As Bridget brings Emma her breakfast, Lizzie tells Emma that Wingate is visiting. She bemoans the fact that their father gives them barely any money, in spite of being rich. "If Papa didn't save his money, Papa wouldn't have any money," Emma insists, but Lizzie suggests that they have to advocate for themselves.

Suddenly, Mrs. Borden appears on the staircase and Lizzie says, "I think she's a fat cow and I hate her," just as Mrs. Borden enters. Mrs. Borden asks if Wingate has come down, and asks if he spoke with Lizzie, worried that Lizzie was rude. "She's incapable of disciplining herself like a lady and we all know it," Mrs. Borden says. She then suggests that Lizzie is spoiled.

It is here that Lizzie breaks character as Bridget to speak to the Actress. She tells her that she was 34 years old at the time, daydreaming that her name was Lisbeth and that she owned the house on the hill. She also says that she dreamt of no longer having red hair. The Actress suggests that 34 is too old to daydream, and they get back to the reenactment.

Mr. Borden comes and sits at the table with Mrs. Borden, and a stage direction suggests that he is very good at tuning out Mrs. Borden. Mrs. Borden talks about the fact that Lizzie got to go to Europe a few years earlier with her friends, with all expenses paid by her father. Emma tells Mr. Borden that Lizzie is feeding the birds and he complains that the neighbors have been breaking into the shed. Emma asks her father why Wingate is there, but he deflects and asks if she has told Lizzie that Johnny MacLeod wants to call on her. Emma tells him she has not told her yet. Emma gets more frustrated and storms off, telling them that they can talk to Lizzie themselves.

Mrs. Borden tells Mr. Borden that he needs to talk to Lizzie about Johnny MacLeod, since everyone is spreading rumors about Lizzie and the married Irish doctor in town. We see a scene of Lizzie and Dr. Patrick talking, talking about how they want to shock the Borden family. They talk about running away to Boston together, but it is unclear whether Lizzie is joking. They then reference the beggars next door who break into the Bordens' shed.

Wingate enters and meets Patrick. Wingate asks Dr. Patrick what he is doing there, and Lizzie says that they are old, dear friends. Wingate beckons Lizzie back into the house, but she ignores him, taking Dr. Patrick's arm.

Bridget and Lizzie have a conversation about the fact that everyone thinks she should be getting married, but Lizzie does not want to. We also see Mrs. Borden scolding Mr. Borden about not being firmer with Lizzie. When Mrs. Borden leaves the room, Harry and Mr. Borden share some pipe tobacco. Mr. Borden says, "...I used to my seventies...I'd be bouncin' a grandson on my knee..."

Lizzie comes out of her Bridget character to deliver a monologue as herself, talking about a day when she looked down at her knees and saw no scabs, and saw that she was the nice girl that Emma wanted her to be. She talks about how she didn't get the forethought that other girls get about how to be a good woman, perhaps because of the loss of her mother.

Suddenly, the Defense pipes up, asking the jury if they think that Lizzie, the daughter of one of the most prominent men in the city, is capable of delivering 32 blows to her stepmother, then talking to the maid calmly, and then axing her father with 13 blows. The Defense speaks on Lizzie's behalf, saying, "Gentlemen, Lizzie Borden is not mad. Gentlemen, Lizzie Borden is not guilty."

Back in the reenactment, Lizzie speaks to her father, who wants to have a talk with her about her behavior.


The play presents Lizzie's plight as being made all the more difficult because of her treatment as a woman by her father and uncle, but it also looks how her stepmother, Mrs. Borden, is complicity in her mistreatment. Lizzie and Bridget perceive Mrs. Borden to be greedy and in cahoots with Wingate, her brother, in the effort to take all of Emma and Lizzie's money away from her. Mrs. Borden is portrayed as an accomplice to misogyny and a selfish stepmother who cares little for the children she married into having.

Another defining feature of Lizzie, besides her resistance to condescending displays of patriarchal power, is her tendency to dream of a better life. In a moment of breaking character from the reenactment, the actual Lizzie talks about the fact that she always liked to daydream about owning the house on the hill and throwing big parties. The Actress brings her back down to earth when she tells Lizzie, "The truth is...34 is too old to daydream." Here, she echoes Mrs. Borden, who disapproves of Lizzie's sense of entitlement and her spoiled manners.

Lizzie's only form of rebellion against her family seems to be in fighting with them and shocking them. This is exemplified by her combative attitude towards her parents and in her inappropriate relationship with the Irish doctor, Patrick. He enjoys the attention, as Lizzie tells him, "Don't you realize Papa and Emma have fits every time we engage in 'illicit conversation.' They're having fits right now." Lizzie loves to upset and disturb people who she perceives as having wronged her.

The play stages memories, but the audience cannot be sure whose memories they are. We see figments from the past, as actors representing Lizzie's family and acquaintances come into the playing space. Pollock keeps it ambiguous whether these are objective renderings of the past, or whether these scenes are skewed by Lizzie's perceptions of them. In these memories, we see all of the clashes that Lizzie had with her parents, all of her doubts and difficulties, and all of the ways that she feels like she does not belong.

Indeed, in this section, we get a window into Lizzie's inner life: her feelings of inadequacy, that she does not measure up to people's expectations of her, or their expectations of how a woman ought to be. She talks about how she always had scabs on her knees as a girl, and that that was considered unladylike. She also talks about her feelings of inadequacy, saying to the Actress, "Do you suppose there's a formula, a magic formula for being 'a woman?'" While she is extremely forthright and confident on the outside, here we see another side of Lizzie, an insecure side that worries that she is defective or inadequate.