Brecht Epic Theater and The Caucasion Chalk Circle Seminar Paper

Pages: 4 (1294 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 2  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Literature: German  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] There is a sincerity in the depiction which there would not be if members of the state were putting on the play for the edification of the peasants. The audience is thus more receptive to the play’s teachings as a result. And although the play is simple, it clearly strives to uphold the principle that justice must be done.

Religion is parodied throughout the play, again in a manner consistent with communist ideals. Although the governor professes to be very religious, he cares little about the ordinary people he is sworn to protect as a leader. He makes a great pretense of going to church with his son, despite the fact that none of the religious values he espouses are upheld in his kingdom. The Fat Prince likewise pretends to be very religious but does nothing to help the people of the town. Even when he overthrows the governor, it is because of a desire for personal power, not to help others. This seems to confirm the common Marxist idea that religion is an opiate of the masses and merely used to keep people in line and turn their minds from revolution.

In contrast to the falsely pious men, Grusha’s Christ-like self-sacrifice is complete. Not only is she a representative of the peasantry, she gives up everything for a child that is not even hers. While Natella appears to have no maternal instincts whatsoever, Grusha even marries a man she does not love to support the child in her care and is willing to risk her life to protect him. Again, the characters of the play would seem very trite if they were not framed in the context of a larger fable. Grusha is purely good and her religion is not based upon monetary wealth and show but on true feeling, just like her feelings for Michael are expressed with the sacrifice she makes for him with her body and her life, versus the ways in which his biological parents used wealth to express their love.

Despite the simplicity of the tale, however, the court scene, which functions as a kind of play-within-a-play-within-the-play, gives the fable some satirical impact. The sarcastic Azdak, the justice of the law devises the Solomon-like test which proves Grusha to be the better mother, even though she did not give birth to him. Azdak is portrayed as deliberately manipulating the justice system because it has been used against the poor in the past; instead, he will ensure that true justice is done, regardless of what the laws might say. This suggests a flexible, more humane vision of justice must be celebrated. It also underlines the social injustices that this act of meta-theater is satirizing. The court system is just as much theater as the act of putting on a play itself, and just as the players are revealing a specific, predetermined moral, Azdak like all justices, orchestrates things to reach a predetermined verdict.

Through the play-within-the-play, the characters portraying the different characters are shown articulating what they feel about class, gender, government, and above all justice. Even though the different characters in the play-within-the-play and the play itself are archetypal and do not have complex psychologies in the way might be seen as desirable in other modern plays, in the presentational model of Brecht’s epic theater, they represent what Brecht saw as the reality of social justices was what was important to the playwright, more than an analysis of character. Just as the characters putting on the play learn from what they stage, he hopes the audience will learn from the play about the realities of social injustice and the constructed nature of justice and class around them.

Works Cited

Brecht, Bertolt. The Caucasian Chalk Circle. Minneapolis, MN: The University of Minnesota

Press, 1999. [END OF PREVIEW]

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Brecht Epic Theater and The Caucasion Chalk Circle.  (2018, February 19).  Retrieved February 18, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/brecht-epic-theater-caucasion-chalk/4721326

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"Brecht Epic Theater and The Caucasion Chalk Circle."  19 February 2018.  Web.  18 February 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/brecht-epic-theater-caucasion-chalk/4721326>.

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"Brecht Epic Theater and The Caucasion Chalk Circle."  Essaytown.com.  February 19, 2018.  Accessed February 18, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/brecht-epic-theater-caucasion-chalk/4721326.