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The Author

Dr. Azher Suleiman is an assistant professor of English Literature, University of Mosul, College of Arts, Department of English. He has been teaching English Literature and Modern Drama for more than 25 years. Books published by the author: Macbeth a translation from English into Arabic. Henrik Ibsen: The Father of Modern Drama George Bernard Shaw Bertolt Brecht

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Bertolt Brecht
Azher Suleiman, Ph.D

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This publication is a creative work fully protected by all applicable copyright laws, as well as by misappropriation, trade secret, unfair competition, and other applicable laws. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the author.

All rights to this publication will be vigorously defended. copyright 2011 by Dr. Azher Suleiman

Mena for printing & publishing Baghdad

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Bertolt Brecht
For the villainy of the world is great, and a man has to run his legs off to keep them from being stolen out from underneath him. (Bertolt Brecht, The Threepenny Opera , Act I Scene 3)

Socio-political Background to Bertolt Brechts Dramatic Works: Hegemony and Consent

A full understanding of Bertolt Brechts dramatic background needs to look at the


socio-political context in which he was writing such as the structure of the state, and the class struggle. Hitlers totalitarian dictatorship imposed complete control over Germany during 1933-1945, which had an enormous effect on the arts, education, religion and politics. Some intellectuals and artists recognized that the Nazi regime was repressive, and that it undermined the high standards of art, literature and science, but the work of those that held these views was highly censored, and was eventually banned. They were given a choice to emigrate or stay in Germany. But to stay in Germany meant that they had to yield to censorship and sacrifice their integrity. Brecht went into exile to Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, England, then Russia and finally to the United States. Consequently, Brechts experience of exile and the cultural values of his time motivated him to create a theatre, which politicalized audiences and stimulated their consciousness through his dialectical influences. Brechts key debate was class equality, where the influence of Karl Marx, Louis Althusser and Antonio Gramscis theories were and still are evident in Brechts plays. Marxist philosopher L. Althusser states that law, education, police, government and the media are instruments of class control calling them Ideological State Apparatuses

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(ISA), which represent the main faade of hegemony. He argues that these institutions govern society to accept a controlling ideology and behave the way governments want them to, resulting in a consenting submissive society which readily accepts a capitalist ideology. He relates back to childhood and our experience of education, Why do children learn at school? They go varying distances on their studies, but at any rate they learn to read, to write and to add [] which are directly useful in the different jobs in production. (Althusser: 1971, 127). For Althusser, consciousness is determined by social existence. For instance, basic social skills such as reading and writing are deemed imperative in order to succeed in most capitalist societies. Not to have these skills is considered a form of degradation and thus the individuals sense of consciousness is affected by the values of a capitalist society. According to the capitalist ideology, to succeed in society we must work for a living, however Althusser suggests that by doing so we succumb to the capitalist regime. He proposes that the workforce is not only engaged in an act of working to receive money, but that workers buy into the idea that they are of an inferior status to the established hierarchy, and as a result workers become a tool of their own oppression, a reproduction of submission to the ruling ideology for the workers, and a reproduction of the ability to manipulate the ruling ideology correctly for the agents of exploitation and repression, so that they, too will provide for the dominant of the ruling class. (Althusser: 1971, 127-128) To extend ones learning is a declaration that one is not knowledgeable enough, however without this extended knowledge one cannot better ones present circumstances.

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Antonio Gramsci, an Italian political theorist, explains that the success of the capitalist ideology is dependent on one part of society owning the means of production, allowing them to dictate how much pay the workers earn; then the working class consents to this regime. Gramsci called this theory, hegemony and consent. Gramsci proposed that to overthrow capitalism the working class must work together to free themselves from their repressive situation, this however would require sacrifice in order to gain long term rewards. Therefore, Gramsci argues that the basis of hegemony is not a rigid set of rules, because the hegemony of the upper class lasts as long as it is able to ensure the cohesion of the system of alliances on which its rule is exercised, and to enlarge it to include the other classes, thus satisfying in one way or another their moral and material interests. (qt. in Pellicani: 1981, 32) Consequently, this repressive regime exists because the lower class consents to it. Influenced by Gramsci and Althussers ideas, Brecht argues that the capitalist system exists because forms of entertainment, education and the law attempt to hide the exploitation of the working class that is inherent in capitalism. Brechts theatre, therefore, exposes these forms of exploitation to encourage the spectator to question societys conventions, and he uses an unconventional aesthetic style to do this, The subordinate classes, [] must acquire consciousness of their own existence and of their own strength. (Gramsci: 1970, 73) Brecht was convinced that Capitalism was inherently a belligerent form of economic and social organization based on internal class warfare between the exploiters and the exploited and on external aggression towards competitors for markets or for sources of raw material or cheap labor. He believed fascism was a 6

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symptom of Capitalism in crisis. (Speirs: 2000, 8) Nevertheless, Bertolt Brecht believed that whilst theatre provided entertainment for the spectator it should also engage the spectators reasoning rather than their feelings. Therefore, he used a dialectic theatre that intellectually engaged his audience through methods that echoed Marxs theory, namely that man and society should be re-examined in order to create an equal society. The task of theatre is not to reflect a fixed reality, but to demonstrate how character and action are historically produced, and so how they could have been, and still can be, different. (Eagleton: 2002, 60) Brecht was a committed Marxist (although famously never a member of the communist party) and believed that if Karl Marxs philosophy and social theory could be communicated to an audience, there was a possibility to end class warfare. Therefore, Brechts plays are vehicles for dialectics; they present a situation, which has the opportunity for rational debate within it, and encouraged workers to unite and rebel against a controlling capitalism. Terry Eagleton argues that Bertolt Brecht regards any attempt to define the literary work as spontaneous whole which reconciles the capitalist contradictions between essence and appearance, concrete and abstract, individual and social whole, as a reactionary nostalgia. (Eagleton, 2002, 65) The Hegelian and Marxist prints are very obvious here in emphasizing the role of the dialectical struggle of the opposites to generate a synthesis, which is usually left for the spectators themselves to formulate. The issue of hegemony and consent in the Brechtian plays always provokes the audience to find a synthesis out of this dialectical struggle between the thesis and anti-thesis, which is usually a revolution.

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The Threepenny Opera: The Ballad Opera and the Socio-political Criticism and Change
Bertolt Brechts aggressive political idealism and determination in using art to pose challenging questions about the conflicts between society and morality generated intense controversy throughout his lifetime. Technically, by his late twenties, Brecht had begun to visualize a new theatrical system that would serve his political and artistic sensibility. He saw the stage as an ideological forum for leftist causes and wanted to create theater that depicted human experience with the brutality and intensity of a boxing match. He rejected the conventions of stage realism and Aristotelian drama, which offer empathetic identification with a hero and emotional catharsis. Brecht did not want his audience to feel, but rather to be shocked, intellectually stimulated, and motivated to take action against an unjust society and to awaken them to social responsibility. Many critics regard The Threepenny Opera (1928) as an early example of his epic theatre, and as a point of departure in Brechts dramatic techniques which from then onward underlie all his works. Peter Demetz, for instance, considers this play as a first form of the epic theatre. (Demetz: 1962, 10) The play consists of theatrical innovations designed to sharpen the spectators critical ability and to shake him out of his complacency and expect more from the theater than entertainment. Epic theater uses alienating devices, such as placards, asides to the audience, projected images, discordant music and lighting, and disconnected episodes to frustrate the viewers expectations for simple entertainment. Ideologically, The Threepenny Opera grew out of its young authors experiences in Berlin during the Weimar Republic (19191933), when Germany struggled to establish a parliamentary democracy in the face of economic devastation, notorious decadence, and 8

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bitter military defeat. More than ten million Germans were without any source of income, and crime proliferated as citizens were reduced to begging on the street. Horrified by the poverty and mounting violence, Brecht took The Beggars Opera by eighteenth-century English satirist John Gay and re-imagined it through the lens of his emerging dramatic theories. Kurt Weill* was asked to compose the score, and The Threepenny Opera was born. The play satirizes class differences and moral hypocrisy in society as inevitable products of the political system. Furthermore, The Threepenny Opera proclaims itself an opera for beggars, and it was in fact an attempt both to satirize traditional opera and operetta and to create a new kind of musical theater based on the theories of two young German artists, composer Kurt Weill and poet-playwright Bertolt Brecht.

John Gays The Beggars Opera


The term ballad opera is used to refer to a genre of English stage entertainment originating in the 18th century and continuing to develop in the following century and later. The earliest ballad opera has been called an eighteenth-century protest against the Italian conquest of the London operatic scene. (Lubbock: 1962, 467-468) It consists of racy and often satirical spoken (English) dialogue, interspersed with songs that are deliberately kept very short (mostly a single short stanza and refrain) to minimize disruptions to the flow of the story, which involves lower class, often criminal,

Kurt Julian Weill (March 2, 1900 April 3, 1950), was a German, and in his later years American, composer active from the 1920s until his death. He was a leading composer for the stage. He also wrote a number of works for the concert hall.

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characters, and typically shows a suspension (or inversion) of the high moral values of the Italian opera of the period. (Wainwright: 2004, 15) Brecht adapted The Threepenny Opera from The Beggars Opera* (1728), a brilliant and popular social satire written by British poet and dramatist John Gay (18651732) (reportedly with the encouragement or assistance of Jonathan Swift and Alexander Pope). Brecht and his collaborator Elizabeth Hauptmann thoroughly reworked Gays script and transferred the action to London in the 1920s. The original production used innovative theatre techniques and relied heavily on the musical genius of Kurt Weill, who wrote the score for the unusual opera. Gays The Beggars Opera is a comic farce, poking accurate fun at the prevailing fashion in Italian opera as well as the social and political climate of the age is concerned. It established a new genre, the ballad opera, of which it remains the only really notable example, though its popularity led to the work Sheridan and eventually Gilbert and Sullivan. Gay cuts the standard five acts to three, and tightly controls the dialogue and plot so that there are delightful surprises in each scene. The basis for The Beggars Opera is that the thieves and other low social people that inhabit Newgate prison are the same as to be found in the government. The play was a theatrical success and became the most popular play of that century. It is a harsh satire that daringly strikes against class distinction and members of the royal court. The harlots, burglars, and cutthroats are more important than the national governors. These low-lives

The Beggars Opera is a ballad opera in three acts written in 1728 by John Gay. It is one of the watershed plays in Augustan drama and is the only example of the once thriving genre of satirical ballad opera to remain popular today. Ballad operas were satiric musical plays that used some of the conventions of, but without recitative. The lyrics of the airs in the piece are set to popular broadsheet ballads, opera arias, church hymns and folk tunes of the time.

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have the manners of proper English lords and ladies, and gain power in much the same ways, proving that human nature is a constant throughout the world. It also pokes fun at the judicial system of the period. There was a high crime rate at that time in English history. The death penalty was handed out for the theft of pennies from a person, but acts of murder and arson were mere misdemeanors. In John Gays The Beggars Opera, for instance, the character Peachum was a lampoon of Sir Robert Walpole.* This satirical element meant that many of plays risked censorship and banning. The leading character of The Beggars Opera is the swashbuckler called Macheath. He is a smooth romantic with qualities of both a gentleman and a highwayman. He is a big womanizer. He says I must have women since "I love the sex. (Scene III, 30) He is a paradoxical character that speaks Kings English and dresses well, but prefers to live in the faith and company of cutthroats. He is polite to the people he mugs and steers away from violence. Even though he cheats on the adorable Polly, the spectators still believe his love for her is true. The opening prologue is a dialogue between The Player and The Beggar, who is posing as the plays author. They make humor of the Italian opera. The first scene takes place in Peachums establishment. Peachum sings a hymn about the dishonesty of everyone. Peachum is alarmed at the marriage between his daughter Polly and Macheath. His objection is for purely business reasons, for Peachum is a fence of stolen goods who occasionally informs on his patrons for the reward. He fears both the loss of Polly

Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford, (1676 1745), known before 1742 as Sir Robert Walpole, was a British statesman who is generally regarded as having been the first Prime Minister of Great Britain. (Encyclopedia Wikipedia)

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from his business, who he related to a pretty bartender bringing in money from drunkards, and of Macheaths learning of any business secrets. Act II has Macheath and his men outside Newgate. He states his problem with Peachum, but when his gang want to do Peachum in Macheath explains how he is a necessary evil and that Business cannot go on without him. Macheath continues by giving justifications for cooperation with Peachum, He is a Man who knows the World, and is a necessary Agent to us. We have had a slight Difference, and 'till it is accommodated I shall be obliged to keep out of his way. Any private dispute of mine shall be of no ill consequence to my Friends. You must continue to act under his Direction, for the moment we break loose from him, our Gang is ruin'd. (Scene II, 29) Macheaths goal is to trick Peachum into believing he has left the gang, but Macheath himself is tricked by eight ladies who call the constable and have him arrested. In jail he bribes Lockit, the jailer, for looser chains. Macheath however, is a lover of Lucy Lockit, the daughter of the jailer. He promises her marriage in return for his escape and she agrees. The Third Act begins with Lockit discovering his daughters part in Macheaths escape. He and Peachum find Macheaths hiding place and go to re-capture him. As Macheath is brought back into custody, both Lucy and Polly beg their father for his life, but to no avail. Macheath is led off to Old Bailey for a trial. In prison Macheath drinks wine and sings portions of nine songs. Two of his gang come to pay respects and he instructs them to have Peachum and Locked hanged. When Polly and Lucy come to visit he tells them to travel to the West Indies and have a husband apiece.(Scene 14, 66) At

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this moment a jailer calls that four more wives have come to see him and a fellow gang member calls desperately for a hangman because at this moment Macheath will really need one. At this point the Beggar and the Player enter to argue whether Macheath dies or not. The Beggar states that Macheath must be hanged for poetic justice. The Player states that this would make the play a tragedy and operas have happy endings. The Beggar finally agrees and Macheath is released. The play concludes with Macheath stating that he is legally married to Polly alone and there is a joyful dance.

Bertolt Brechts The Threepenny Opera


Gays satire was an ironic reversal of the royal government and the criminals of old England, which could easily be converted to fit the Bourgeoisie and Proletariat of the twentieth century. In November of 1927, Elisabeth Hauptmann began to translate the English play to German for Brecht. Brechts main dramatic contribution resides in transforming Gays Macheath into his own Mackie Messier, also known as Mack the Knife. John Fuegi emphasizes Hauptmanns imperative role in presenting this dramatic work to the public by saying, Given the existence of this text, plus the fact that Hauptmann was the only person in the workshop to render such complex English into equally complex German, there can be little doubt that at least 80 percent of the fabric of the work that Felix Bloch Erben would soon globally market was hers. Both in a published article and in a recent interview with me, Klaus Volker, one of the most knowledgeable people in the world on the Brecht circle told me it was his view that Elisabeth Hauptmann was responsible for as much as 80 or even 90 percent of the published text of The Threepenny Opera. Though, later, Brecht would work on the text and contribute songs primarily taken from other authors, 13

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though the lyrics of the song Mack the Knife are almost certainly wholly his, the fact remains that the text bought by Aufricht and later sold to Felix Bloch Erben was almost exclusively written by Elisabeth Hauptmann. (Fuegi: 1995, 195-96) The Threepenny Opera opens in the beggar shop owned by Peachum. Peachum has taken control of all the beggars in London and runs a shop that outfits the beggars and provides them with a location to beg in. A young man comes in and asks for a job. Peachum makes the man pay him first and then shows the man the five states of human misery before giving the man a costume to wear. Meanwhile, Polly and Macheath have just broken into a stable where they are getting married. The rest of Macs gang arrives and they bring in wedding presents. Everything has been stolen, including the stable. Soon the parson arrives and they sit down to eat. Polly provides them with some entertainment by singing a song. After she is done Tiger Brown the Sheriff arrives, but instead of arresting them all he greets Macheath as an old friend. Mac explains that he and Tiger Brown served together in the war and that he has paid Brown kickbacks on every job ever since. After Brown leaves the men present Polly and Macheath a large bed to sleep in and then leave them alone. Polly returns home to find her parents furious with her for marrying Macheath. She tries to defend the marriage, but they decide to take on Macheath and destroy him. Mr. Peachum tells his wife that he will go to Tiger Brown and make him arrest Macheath. Meanwhile, Mrs. Peachum agrees to go and bribe the whores whom Macheath goes to every week. She is hoping that the whores will turn in Macheath. Polly goes with her father and watches as Brown agrees to arrest Macheath. She then goes back to the stable where Mac is staying and tries to warn him. He does not 14

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believe her until she produces the charges that are being levied against him. Instead of being emotional, Mac focuses on his business. He hands the business over to Polly and tells her what to do. Soon thereafter his gang arrives and Mac informs them that Polly will be their boss while he goes away. Matthew tries to challenge Polly's authority, but she threatens to kill him if he opens his mouth again; the other thieves applaud her and accept her leadership. Meanwhile, Mrs. Peachum approaches Low-Dive Jenny, a prostitute, and convinces her to turn in Macheath should he be foolish enough to show up at the brothel. One of Macs men is trying to convince the whores that Macheath would not be as foolish as to show up. However, Mac arrives and sits down. Jenny takes Macs palm and reads it, warning him that a woman will betray him. He thinks she means Polly. Jenny soon sneaks out while Mac is talking with the whores and gets the police and Mrs. Peachum. Constable Smith enters and tries to arrest Mac, who knocks the man down and jumps out the window. Unfortunately for him, Mrs. Peachum is standing there with the other police officers. They take him away. Now in prison, Mac is afraid that Tiger Brown will learn that he has been playing around with Browns daughter Lucy. She soon arrives and is horrified to see him in jail. To complicate matters further, Polly arrives and also claims Mac as her husband. Both women argue; Lucy indicates that she is pregnant and therefore has a better claim to Mac, but Polly is legally married to him and she has papers to prove it. Mac chooses to support Lucy instead of Polly because he is more afraid of Tiger Brown. Mrs. Peachum then arrives and drags Polly away. Lucy, happy to finally be alone with Mac again, hands him his hat and cane and leaves. When Constable Smith returns he tries to get the cane,

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but Mac is faster than he is and manages to escape. Brown enters the cell and is relieved to see it empty. However, Peachum also arrives and threatens to disrupt the coronation if Brown does not find Macheath and arrest him again immediately. That night Peachum outfits his beggars with signs and clothes in an effort to ruin the coronation parade the next morning. The whores arrive, led by Jenny, and ask for their reward for turning in Macheath. Peachum refuses to pay them on the grounds that Mac escaped already. Jenny, in a fit of rage, tells them that Mac is a far better man than any of them. She then accidentally reveals that Mac had gone straight to her place and comforted her, and that he is now with another whore named Suky Tawdry. Peachum is elated by this information and promises to give the whores the reward money. He sends one of his beggars to get the police. Tiger Brown arrives only a few minutes later. Brown has decided that rather than arrest Macheath it would be far easier for him to arrest Peachum and all the beggars, thereby preventing them from ruining the coronation. Peachum merely ignores Browns threats and points out that there are far more beggars than there are police. He asks Brown point-blank how if would look if several hundred men were clubbed down on the day of the procession. Unable to arrest Peachum, Brown realizes that he is caught in a bind. Peachum then demands that Brown arrests Macheath and gives him the address where Macheath is staying. Peachum lastly sends the beggars to the jail rather than that coronation. Polly goes to visit Lucy in an effort to find out where Mac is. It turns out that neither of them knows his whereabouts, causing Polly to laugh and state that Mac has stood them both up. They soon hear a noise in the hallway and realize that Mac has been

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rearrested. Mrs. Peachum shows up with widows clothing and makes Polly change into it. The next morning, the same day the coronation procession is set for, Macheath is brought out of his cell and locked into a public cell. He is going to be hung at six in the morning, and has only an hour to live. He offers Smith one thousand pounds in cash if Smith will let him escape, but Smith refuses to make any promises. Mac asks Jake, Matthew and Polly for money; they say that it will be hard to get anything so early in the morning but leave promising to find something. Having failed to get the money, Smith refuses to help Macheath. Soon thereafter all of the characters return and stand next to the cage. Jake and Matthew apologize for not getting the money in time and tell Mac that all the other crooks are stealing elsewhere. Even the whores have showed up to watch him die. Mac gives a last speech in which he claims all the small crooks are being pushed aside by corporate interests. Peachum then stands up and gives the final speech, arguing that since this is an opera and not real life, they will save Macheath. Brown enters in the form of a mounted messenger and brings a special order from the Queen. She has decided to pardon Macheath and to also elevate him to a hereditary knighthood. Mac rejoices his good luck while Peachum remarks that such a thing would never happen in real life. Brecht took many liberties in The Threepenny Opera. It is by no means just a translation of Gays play. The London setting is replaced by Soho in Victorian England. Peachum becomes a beggar king, outfitting, taxing, and reporting on his beggars for the reward. He prays on peoples sympathies and quotes Biblical verses with ironic dark comedy. Scenes are added, such as a wedding scene between Mac and Polly set in a

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stable with stolen goods for the reception. The police chief Tiger Brown, Brechts Lockit, an old army buddy of Macs, stops in to pay his respects. But most important is the changes that make Mack the Knife. The adaptation by Bertolt Brecht was composed in the Weimar Period of post World War One Germany. The World War had harsh effects on societys view of the arts and was the final that toppled the kingdoms of Europe. Starting with industrialism and ending with the war, new classes were rising to replace the aristocracy and peasantry. These classes were the Bourgeoisie and the Proletariat. New art movements called the avant-garde rose to address the new modern society. One of the big changes was in the concept of a hero in plays and literature. Before the outbreak, people thought of war as noble and honorable, a statement of national pride. Wars had to this point been quick, from six to eight weeks in length. But World War One lasted for six long years, destroyed a generation of European youth, and left a dirty scar across the earth between France and Germany that is still present to remind people today. After the disastrous war, in literature, including drama, a new understanding of the hero and heroism began to spring forth as far as the socio-political issues are concerned. The Threepenny opera was one of those great dramatic conversions into the avant-garde. Even though The Beggars Opera was over a century old, this unusual play had everything the avant-garde looked for. Gays rapid change of scenes was similar to the montage effect that Brecht and others were trying to achieve in drama. Brechts version of the character bears little resemblance to Gays Macheath. Gays Macheath is presented in The Beggars Opera as a dashing romantic, a gentleman pickpocket, a Robin Hood type. Brechts Mackie is unmannerly, cynical, and a toughened

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criminal. He is a gangster who refers to himself as a businessman. He praises efficiency, organization, and even keeps books. He stated that the only difference between a gangster and a businessman is that the gangster is not a coward. (Brecht: 1979, 92) Although he never enters the legitimate business world, he tells Polly that in a few weeks he will switch to banking because it is safer and more profitable. Thieves like himself are being edged out of the market by business and banks: We lower middle-class artisans who toil with our humble jimmies on small shopkeepers cash registers are being swallowed up by big corporations backed by the banks. Whats a jimmy compared with a share certificate? Whats breaking into a bank compared with founding a bank? Whats murdering a man compared with employing a man? (Scene 9, 76) Furthermore, Brecht turns Mack into a scoundrel who kills eleven people, seven children, two women and two old men and rapes a young widow all in one song and he continues to be immortalized in this song. He has become thoroughly bourgeoisie, not like Gays dashing romantic hero. In his notes to The Threepenny Opera, Brecht states that, the bandit Macheath must be played as bourgeois phenomenon. (Brecht: 1979, 92) Therefore, Brecht presents him as a short, stocky man of about forty with a head like a radish, a bit bald but not lacking dignity. (Brecht: 1979, 92) Brechts new style of theater allowed for the play to be more brutally harsh in its satirical attacks on the class than Gays play could achieve. Brecht allowed the audience to observe, judge, and decide how things could and should be different where as Gays audience got too involved with the characters follies. (Esslin: 1977, 133) Brecht offers alternatives in life rather than Gays mocking characters that just make the viewer laugh

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at their folly. Brecht wanted to make his characters amoral, but not immoral. Morality has nothing to do with action. To emphasize this point he switched the goals of his characters to be food and money, not power and like in Gays play. If there is a choice between morality and bread, it would be bread. It is not just coincidence that this sounds like Marxist theory, but Brecht did not have a utopian view like communists in Russia. He did however, have strong anti-capitalist views. In Brechts version, Peachum is no longer just an underworld dealer of stolen goods. Now, he is a tight-fisted capitalist who has built an industry of begging and regulates his myriad panhandler and pickpocket employees in their various professional endeavors throughout the London streets. His business is based upon the principle that hypocrisy is a marketing technique: I discovered that though the rich of this earth find no difficulty in creating misery, they cant bear to see it. Because they are weaklings and fools just like you. They may have enough to eat till the end of their days, they may be able to wax their floors with butter so that even the crumbs from their tables grow fat. But they cant look on unmoved while a man is collapsing from hunger, though of course that only applies so long as he collapses outside their own front door. (III, vii, 59) Peachum thus reveals himself a player in the very system he seeks to exploit. In Act One, Scene Three, Brecht introduces one of the most ironic moments in the play by having Peachum fire a beggar for eating too much. The reader or observer does a doubletake at this moment; after all, how can you become an out of work beggar except in a world where capitalism has taken over every aspect of society to such a degree that existence is no longer possible except within the system. Brecht subtly criticizes the 20

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excesses of capitalism by showing a world where even begging is a profession that has its own rules and ethics. Brecht affirms that the character of Jonathan Peachum is not to be resumed in the stereotyped formula miser, (Brecht: 1979, 91) otherwise this character will lose its implication as the sharpest critiques of bourgeois society, who does not seek to change that society, he simply exploits it. As usual Brecht avoids the crude propagandistic tactic of presenting an idealized opposition to capitalism; rather he concentrates on arousing our indignation and inspires us to action by simply showing us a brutal world. Consequently, the synthesis that will be formulated in the modern spectators mind is definitely different from that dramatic presentation of Peachum in The Beggars Opera. The basic conflict in The Threepenny Opera is based on Peachum and Macheath, the former is in charge of all of Londons beggars, the latter is in charge of Londons thieves. Stealing Peachums daughter is thus a social insult, an attack on Peachums status in the London underworld. The theft of Polly will cause Peachum to openly declare war on Mac the Knife in an effort to regain his reputation. Thus, it is not an emotional conflict where Peachum is upset about losing Polly. Rather, it is a social issue. Macheath makes a similar observation as to the hypocrisy of the commercially successful, but from the point of view of one outside of the capitalist establishment. He and Ginny Jenny share a duet commenting on the inherent problem with social moralizing separate from social equality. Macheath opens with the statement: You gentlemen who think you have a mission To purge us of the seven deadly sins Should first sort out the basic food position Then start your preaching: thats where it begins.

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You lot, who preach restraint and watch your waist as well Should learn for all time how the world is run: However much you twist, whatever lies you tell Food is the first thing. Morals follow on. (II, vi, 55) The song that ends the act is one of the most famous. The line, Food is the first thing. Morals follow on, serves as a basis for much of the action in this play. It is an attack on the audience. Instead of morally judging what Macheath, the beggars, the whores and the thieves are doing, the song tells the audience to sympathize with them. By putting food before morals, Brecht is issuing a call to his audience to consider the actual circumstances of the characters instead of judging them abstractly. Brechts criticism of the bourgeois society of the Weimar Republic, so elegantly set in Victorian Englands Soho, remains one of the great plays today. The Ballad of Mac the Knife became a popular jazz tune in the 1950s and the work has inspired numerous artists. Attempts have been made to update the play, but Brecht himself left it mostly in the original form. It is one of the more difficult Brechtian plays to interpret. It is hard to reconcile Brechts outspoken later Communism with the flippancies inherent in the production, and with the fact that it has had repeated successes in bourgeois theaters. The problems stem from the fact that when Brecht wrote the play he was only beginning to explore Marxism and he did not yet identify with the class struggle. The issue is confused, however, by the fact that Brechts notes were all written after the play and also after his adoption of a committed Marxist stance in 1929. Nevertheless, through its display of the base elements of society, the play brought theater to the people rather than to the elite society.

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The Threepenny Opera is a commentary upon society from the vantage point of the underworld. The people that move across the stage are murderers, thieves, prostitutes, beggars, and corrupt officials. Each character is handled so as to arouse an emphatic response and at no point does the sordidness or immorality overshadow the inherent humanity, frailty, and lovability of each of the characters. Ones sympathy is with these people despite their open defiance of sexual proprieties, religious teachings, and the conventions of justice, marriage, and business. Bertolt Brecht describes people caught, trapped, and debased by life. An unseen thread of implied identity connects them to the world of light. They harshly mirror the weaknesses and limitations as well as the corrupt practices that typify people generally then and now. One of the main questions posed by Bertolt Brecht in The Threepenny Opera is: how are goodness and love possible amid so much misery? Indeed, this and some similar moral and socio-political questions preoccupied Brecht throughout his life. How, for example, can honesty and decency be demanded from people who have nothing to eat? And who, then, will be guilty of the evil they may commit? The prologue is the Ballad of Mac the Knife, which is sung while beggars, prostitutes and thieves are all enjoying a fair in Soho. The ballad describes many of the things that Macheath, known as Mac the Knife, has done. He is compared to a shark with sharp teeth, but unlike a shark he keeps his weapons hidden. Mac the Knife always wears fancy white kid gloves in spite of the dreadful crimes he has committed. See the shark with teeth like razors. All can read his open face. And Macheath has got a knife, but Not in such an obvious place.

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See the shark, how red his fins are As he slashes at his prey. Mac the Knife wears white kid gloves which Give the minimum away. By the Thamess turbid waters Men abruptly tumble down. Is it plague or is it cholera? Or a sign Macheaths in town? On a beautiful blue Sunday See a corpse stretched in the Strand. See a man dodge round the corner Mackies friends will understand. And Schmul Meier, reported missing Like so many wealthy men: Mac the Knife acquired his cash box. God alone knows how or when. Jenny Towler turned up lately With a knife stuck through her breast While Macheath walks the Embankment Nonchalantly unimpressed. Where is Alfred Gleet the cabman? Who can get that story clear? All the world may know the answer Just Macheath has no idea. And the ghastly fire in SohoSeven children at a go-

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In the crowd stands Mac the Knife, but he Isnt asked and doesnt know. And the child-bride in her nightie Whose assailants still at large Violated in her slumbersMackie, how much did you charge? (Prologue, 3-4) The song indicates that Macheath is to blame for killing many men, stealing cash boxes, murdering a prostitute, setting a fire in Soho that killed seven children, and raping a young bride. At the end of the song the whores laugh and a man steps out of their group. As he walks away, Low-Dive Jenny cries out that that was Mac the Knife. The introduction of Mac the Knife immediately sets him up in paradoxical terms. He is represented as a shark with bloody fins and hidden teeth, but at the same time he is described in terms of white kid gloves in order to cover his bloody hands. These white gloves, signs of pure hands, serve as a symbol of bourgeois society. Brecht is essentially saying that Macheath covers his crimes by pretending to be bourgeois Alternatively, this can also be interpreted as implying that bourgeois society commits the crimes and then pretends that nothing ever happened. By transforming the stable into an excessively luxurious room, Brecht again is using bourgeois decoration to hide the murders and thefts. The use of furniture is paralleled by the gang in suits, a comic image since they do not have the right manners. Thus we again see bloody deeds and bloody people parading around as if they were common, normal members of the successful society. One may note that Macheath does not deny his crimes; instead, he acts as if nothing is wrong.

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The fundamental theme that emerges is that business trancends love in this amoral, capitalist world. Love is made fun of by portraying it ironically. Normally a parent would be swayed by arguments of love, but Pollys parents instead advocate divorce for her. When she continues claiming that she is really in love with Macheath, Mrs. Peachum blames the books that Polly used to read. Polly: Look. Is he particularly handsome? No. but he makes a living. He can support me. He is not only a first-class burglar but a far-sighed and experienced stick-up man as well. Ive been into it, I can tell you the exact amount of his savings to date. A few successful ventures and we shall be able to retire to a little house in the country just like that Mr. Shakespeare father admires so much. Peachum: Its quite simple. Youre married. What does a girl do when shes married? Use your head. Well, she gets divorced, see. Is that so hard to figure out? Polly: I dont know what youre talking about. Mrs. Peachum: Divorce. Polly: But I love him. How can I think of divorce? Mrs. Peachum: Really, have you no shame? Polly: Mother, if youve ever been in love Mrs. Peachum: In love! Those damn books youve been reading have turned your head. (I, iii, 30) This attitude converts love into a form of business deal; there is no point in marrying unless you gain something financially. Polly realizes this and tries to point out to her parents that Macheath is financially well off, however, since he is a competitor to her father, Peachum chooses instead to take this opportunity to ruin Macheath.

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The reduction of love to mere business is furthered by Polly in her dream. She remarks that she dreamt about the moon, a symbol of her and Macs love. Oh, last night I had a dream. I was looking out the window and I heard laughter in the street, and when I looked out I saw our moon and the moon was all thin like a worn-down penny. (II, iv, 39) The moon is equated to a worn-down penny. This gives love two meanings and references, the first being that it equates love with capitalism. Second, love is compared to something old and not worth very much. This belief that love is worthless is held by all of the characters except for Polly who seems to the only character struggling to achieve worthwhile emotions. In Act Three, Scene Eight, the falseness of love and marriage is dealt with throughout the scene. Lucy, the Sheriffs daughter, admits that she lied about being pregnant and shows Polly the cushion. Oh, thats magnificent! Is it a cushion? Oh, you really are a hypocritical strumpet! (III, viii, 68) At the end, Mrs. Peachum has the gall to enter and make Polly dress as a widow before Macheath is even dead. Ha, Polly, so this is where I find you. You must change your things, your husband is being hanged. Ive brought your widows weeds. [Polly changes into the widows dress.] Youll be a lovely widow. But youll have to cheer up a little. (III, viii, 69) This brutal disruption of the sentimental interaction between Lucy and Polly serves again to make the audience feel less pity for Polly. The image of her as a sad, broken wife does not hold very long either; when Mac asks her for money in the last scene she is brilliantly evasive, implying that she has taken over his business and kept the money.

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Another example of that business supercedes love, marriage and other sentimentalities is presented in the cell meeting between Brown and Mac. Brown visits Mac in the cell to settle up their business first. Mac even explicitly states, The accounts, sir, if you please, the accounts. No sentimentality. (III, viii, 73) When Brown agrees, Mac yells at him for only caring about money. Macs final speech is quite important. In the speech he accuses big business of doing exactly what he does, namely being a thief. The only difference is that the big companies do it with more money and legally. Whats a jemmy compared with a share certificate? Whats breaking into a bank compared with founding a bank? (III, viii, 76) Actually, this is what he was planning to do: Mac wanted Polly to take the money and set up a bank with it, thereby getting rid of his men and entering a more reliable business. Lucy brings up the issue of class for the first time in the play. She tells Polly You should have stuck to your own class of people, dear Miss. (III, viii, 67) Lucy is implying that Polly married outside of her own class. The question then is which direction did she marry, up or down? The answer is not obvious because her parents are actually in a similar profession to that of Macheath. However, Polly clearly interprets it as meaning that she married down. She elevates herself into the business class by stating, I should have kept everything on a strict business footing. (III, viii, 67) This line has another meaning, though. It serves to accuse the bourgeois class, i.e. the business class, of being unemotional and marrying only for money. The issue of class re-emerges when the Queen raises Mac to the hereditary peerage. By giving him a knighthood she elevates him into the highest class, the leisurely class of aristocracy with guaranteed income. This further undermines the issues of class

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present in the play; Mac manages to leapfrog the bourgeois society and lands comfortably in the aristocratic class. It also serves as yet another sardonic commentary on Brechts own society which he saw rewarding people he considered to be criminals. Brown: I bring a special order from our beloved Queen to have Captain Macheath set at liberty forthwith [All cheers] as its the coronation, and raised to the hereditary peerage. [Cheers] The castle of Marmarel, likewise a pension of ten thousand ponds, to be his in usufruct until his death. To any bridal couples present. Her Majesty bids me to convey her gracious good wishes. (III, ix, 79) The songs in Brechts plays deserve some discussion because they are as famous as the play itself. Brechts use of songs does not represent any attempt aiming at intensifying or heightening the conflict of the play, rather it specifically intends to detach the spectator from suspense. Hence, when we argue that Brechts songs are designed in such a manner we do not mean, at any arte, that these songs are forcibly injected as isolated parts into the structure of the play. An examined reading of Bertolt Brechts songs makes one deduce that they are thematically linked to the action. Therefore, such technique helps the audience to question attitudes and behaviour which have been taken as expected and natural. The Brechtian songs always comment on the main action of the play; furthermore, it gives the spectators time to think of what has been said by other characters or by the singer himself since the tempo of the song is slower than that of the normal dialogue. Brechts final goal is that he wants the audience to leave his play with a logical desire to change society. By forcing the audience to not empathize with the characters, Brecht is trying to make people think about the play rather than feel emotions. This objectification of character is requisite for the work of art: Aristotelian forms

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which induce empathy, sympathy, and a perception of heroism, all create the illusion of reality (in actuality, an ideological construct), but only when the audience is at a distance, when they feel no personal kinship with the characters, can the destructive mechanisms of capitalist ideology be exposed and resisted. The songs are nonetheless bawdy, cabaret style works that invert the common perception of opera. The songs serve as social statements by combining high culture with low; they also are an attack on traditional Wagnerian opera. This is evident in the first scene where Mr. and Mrs. Peachum sing a song under spotlight which has nothing to do with their real characters. Peachum sings a morning hymn, basically a call for thieves and beggars to start their sinful employment. Peachum runs an outfitting shop for beggars; he provides them with props and slogans and is paid a part of their daily take. He laments the fact that humans are able to deaden their feelings, forcing him to constantly create new ways of arousing human sympathy. You ramshackle Christian, awake! Get on with your sinful employment Show what a good crook you could make. The Lord will cut short your enjoyment. Betray your own brother, you rogue And sell your old woman, you rat. You think the Lord Gods just a joke? Hell give you His Judgement on that. (Act, I, 5) Brecht here tries to remind the spectators from the very beginning of the play that what they are watching is just a game not a slice of life; it is a mere presentation of actors on a

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stage in a theatre. This is, in fact, one of many Brechtian preliminary attempts of initiating an epic drama and theatre, which will reach its peak and maturity in the 1940s. In Act Two, Scene Five, The Ballad of immoral earnings makes fun of bourgeois society by attacking its nostalgia. One of the main attributes of the middle class is a preference for an idealized past. This is reflected in a great deal of literature, with concepts such as the golden ages, the golden years, or the Romantic period playing a key role. There was a time, now very far a way When we set up together, I and she. Id got the brain, and she supplied the breast. I saw her right, and she looked after me A way of life then, if not quite the best. And when a client came Id slide out of our bed And treat him nice, and go and have a drink instead And when he paid up Id address him: Sir Come any night you feel you fancy her. That times long past, but what would I not give To see that whorehouse where we used to live? But in the end we flushed it down the sewer. That could not last, but what would I not give To see that whorehouse where we used to live? (II, vi, 44-45) Brecht attacks this naive view of the past by having Mac sing about his life with Jenny. Mac makes the couple seem idyllic even though if they live in a whorehouse. Jenny also wishes for the past again even while telling us how Mac used to knock her down the

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stairs. Thus Brecht uses the two of them to combine elements of bourgeois nostalgia with lower class crudity. Brechts theater is intentionally extremely political. (Esslin: 1977, 132) The Threepenny Opera places blame on the capitalist society for the criminal underworld that Gay presented merely in The Beggars Opera as a mirror-image satire of eighteenthcentury aristocracy. Brecht made some stylistic changes, transforming the protagonist, Macheath, into a morally ambiguous hero, emphasizing the parallels between Polly and Lucy Peachum, and creating the character of Sheriff Jackie Brown, a former army buddy of Macheaths who protects his friends criminal activity in exchange for a percentage of his spoils. Brecht writes in his Notes to The Threepenny Opera that, The Threepenny Opera is concerned with bourgeois conceptions not only by content, by representing them, but also through the manner in which it does so. It is a kind of report on life as any member of the audience would like to see it. Since at the same time, however, he sees a good deal that he has no wish to see; since therefore he sees his wishes not merely fulfilled but also criticized (sees himself not as the subject but as the object), he is theoretically in a position to appoint a new function for the theatre. (Brecht: 1979, 90) This means that Brecht is giving the bourgeois audience their fantasy of the criminal world, but, at specific moments, he gives them a dose of harsh reality. Brecht exposes his understanding of death penalty in the play. The dancers will be the ones to face the rich spectators with their hypocritical behaviour, demanding decorum today and abusing them tomorrow. And perhaps through that rudimentary feeling of moral tolerance towards the poor, the ray of hope which shines in this operas chaotic 32

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closing moments could be explained. For when it seems that the leader of the gangsters is going to be executed, an unexpected pardon arrives, which moves the chorus to sing: Injustice should be spared from persecution: Soon it will freeze to death, for it is cold. Think of the blizzards and the black confusion Which in this vale of tears we must behold. (Act III, 79) Notice finally how, already in this earliest of works, Brecht is proposing a notable correction of the merciless machinery of justice, and, more directly still, of the death penalty, for this positive penal law seems inhuman to him. Thus, Brecht is not only expressing a profound feeling of compassion and mercy towards that poor criminal, the victim of social injustice, but also a great respect and compassion for every human creature, however perverse he or she may seem. Other critical views mix admiration and doubts of this Brechtian adaptation of the play. Lotte Lenya, one of the stars of the original production (and wife of composer Kurt Weill), recollected about the play in the1940s, Respected Berlin theatre oracles slipped out to spread the word that Brecht and Weill proposed to insult the public with a ludicrous mishmash of opera, operetta, cabaret, straight theatre, outlandish American jazz, not one thing or the other. (Lenya: 1960, xiii) She asserts that he was eclectic and unabashed about borrowing from other cultural sources as part of his own creative genius. Lenya describes what was Brechts tendency, As his admirers have it: to adapt, reinterpret, re-create, magnificently add modern significance; or in his detractors eye: to pirate, plagiarize, shamelessly appropriate to borrow at will from the vanished greats like Marlowe and Shakespeare and

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Villon, and even from his actual or near contemporaries like Kipling and Gorky and Klabund. (Lenya: 1960, V) As such, when the idea came to him to resurrect The Beggars Opera but in a satirical manner that would ultimately highlight Brechts socialist ideals, the borrowing of Gays story and characters was not only convenient, it was quite appropriate. After all, Gays original production had been laced with political satire itself. To conclude, all these dramatic modifications have been made to suit and serve two main purposes: the Brechtian ideological attitude of how human relations are affected or determined by economic, social and political forces and that is one of the main themes of The Threepenny Opera, and to borrow from opera a dramatic form and adapt it so that it reached to a new audience; and in so doing they created a new type of musical theatre.

The Good Woman of Setzuan: Goodness vs Money, Greed and Power


The Good Woman of Setzuan*, written during Brechts exile and set in Communist China, is a parable of a young woman torn among goodness, money, greed and power, between obligation and reality, love and practicality, and between her own needs and those of her friends and neighbors. The story of the play is dramatized by Brecht from an old Chinese parable. The play consists of an epilogue and ten fragmentary Acts. The various situations of the play deal with the idea of changing a world where goodness cannot exist by itself amidst money, greed and power. Therefore, the basic problem that faces Shen Te is how to be good and rich and yet to live.

Der Gute Mensch Von Setzuan was first produced in Zurich, 4 February 1943.

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Three gods descend from heaven in search of good human beings on earth in order to justify the continuation of the world. As they enter Setzuan town, they ask Wong, the water seller, to find someone who can give them shelter for the night. The selfish people of Setzuan refuse to offer a place for these three gods. Only the penniless prostitute Shen Te accepts to offer them a room. The next morning the three gods show their gratitude by giving her a thousand silver dollars, which sets her up with a petitbourgeois status.(Thomson and Sacks: 2002, 121) Shen Te, then, buys a tobacco shop but she is immediately surrounded by parasites, would-be relations, and beggars who threaten to bankrupt her. To protect herself, she disguises as a brutal males cousin, Shui Ta. Shui Ta manages to drive the sponger away. But the situation is more complicated when Shen Te saves Yang Sun, the unemployed airman, from suicide and she falls in love with him. After their marriage, Shen Te learns that Yang Sun is only after her money. She is now pregnant, therefore she pretends, as the male cousin Shui Ta that Shen Te is away on a journey. In order to provide her future child with a good standard of living, she starts a tobacco factory and then she becomes the king of tobacco. Shui Ta employs Yang sun who becomes a foreman and begins to exploit the workers by making them work harder. Shen Tes long absence arouses suspicion. Shui Ta is arrested and accused of imprisoning Shen Te. At the trial where the three gods act as judges, Shui Ta reveals that he is Shen Te in disguise. The three gods are delighted and relieved that the only good person is still alive. But the confesses that she could only have survive by alternatively being the bad cousin Shi Ta, Shen Te:Im telling you Im the bad man who committed all those crimes! 35

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First God: [using or failing to use his ear trumpet] The good woman who did all those good deeds? Shen Te: Yes, but the bad man too! First God: [as if something had dawned] Unfortunate coincidences! Heartless neighbours! Third God: [shouting in his ear] But how is she to continue? First God: Continue? Well, shes a strong, healthy girl Second God: You didnt hear what she said! First God: I heard every word! She is confused, thats all! (Sc.10, 105) As Shen Te asked for their advice, the gods told her not to disguise herself too often and to keep being the good woman of Setzuan. After the gods said those words to Shen Te, they flew away. The play is ended and no resolution in the traditional sense is given. Bertolt Brechts The Good Woman of Setzuan has been written as a response to the unjust treatment of the lower classes and as a result, the play attempts to bring the whole issue about social change. The play explains that to be good results in unconditional giving of labor, however this generosity does not give you any position in society. This is demonstrated through the character Shen Te, who tries to please her neighbours and friends, but never receives anything in return. Shen Tes kindness and generosity results in her nearly ruining her business and, in order to survive, she must reinvent herself as her ruthless male capitalist cousin, Shui Ta*. This powerful capitalist ugly face is the only means that can survive amidst greed and voracity. As a result of her transforming into a man, Shen Te is able to regain her status and rebuild a successful business. Brecht believes that evil is not an outside force, but one of human origin, the

The name Shen Te, in Chinese, connotes gentle rain. The name Shui Ta suggests the rushing waters of a flood tide. The generous Shen Te rains her small gifts on those around her.

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same as goodness, and, therefore, it is up to humans to stem it. (Abbotson: 2003, 118) This evil lurks in every corner of the play where money, greed and power are interwoven to face goodness in any possible shape. Brecht not only highlights the lower classes constant struggle to improve their lives, but also questions the females inferiority, Shen Te is split into the good exploited female and bad exploiting male. Accordingly, the main dramatic conflict emerges from this socio-political situation. Furthermore, to be kind or not to be kind and to help people or not to help them, are two major powers that push Shen Te to have a decisive attitude to protect her money. She would rather be kind than be wicked. However, as more and more people exploited her generosity, she felt somewhat undervalued and not respected. Her benevolent deeds did not win her others respects but invited more people trying to make use of her. One of the major dramatic conflicts of the play, for instance, takes the shape of class struggle as far as money, greed and power are concerned. As Louis Althusser suggests, Shen Te succumbs to the middle class, a capitalist regime. In order to succeed in society, she buys a shop that will ultimately exploit either the workers who work for her or the people who buy from her. Brechts audience is predominantly petit-bourgeois, who has the potential to become capitalists. The petit-bourgeois believed they are neither being exploited nor exploiting and therefore they consent to the system rather than taking a stand against it. The character Shen Te illustrates the simple step from working class status to capitalist status when her male cousin transforms the shop into a factory. Brechts compelling argument highlights that a good, honest person who pays taxes and looks out for others, is likely to fail in a capitalist society. Like the audience, Shen Te consents to exploitation. Brechts messages are overtly clear; he highlights that to break

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out of this unfair cycle his audience must stop consenting to the system and, as Marx suggests he or she must sacrifice their social situations and revolt against the regime. Thus, the only solution, to Brecht, is revolution. The prologue establishes the basic dramatic question around which the entire play is organized. Shen Te tells the three gods that she wants to be good, but theres the rent to pay. And thats not all: I sell myself for a living. Even so I cant make ends meet, theres too much competition. Id like to honour my father and mother and speak nothing but the truth and not covet my neighbours house. I should love to stay with one man. But how? (Prologue, 26) In the Prologue, for instance, one of the solutions to Shen Tes inquiry how to be good is presented by the Third God who suggests that, Isnt it true she might do better if she had more money? (Prologue, 26) This suggestion will undergo a number of investigations and it will set the action itself in motion. In short, the whole action of the play represents an answer to this inquiry. The gods might well represent the capitalists who offer small ways to help the poor, but ultimately leave them to struggle after their interference. For example, despite Shen Tes desperate plea for help at the end of the play, the gods still proceed to exit on their cloud, First God: And now...[He makes a sign and music is heard. Rosy light.] Let us return. This little world has much engaged us. Its joy and its sorrow have refreshed and pained us. Up there, however, beyond the stars, We shall gladly think of you, Shen Te, the good woman 38

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Who bears witness to our spirit down below, Who, in cold darkness, carries a little lamp! Good-bye! Do it well! (Sc. 10,107)

Due to their more fortunate circumstances, they are happy to leave Shen Te to suffer, and sort out her own problems. This may be a metaphor for the middle class who, as long as they were living in their comfortable homes, and visiting the luxurious opera houses, were disinterested in the suffering of the lower classes. But at the same time the gods could represent the spectators, who are distanced from the situation. Therefore, Brecht may be highlighting that the spectator should not float away onto their clouds and forget the important issues raised in the play. Instead, they should engage in critical thought and take action. The spectators should think of an end of the capitalistic powers and of a way to change their world. But in Brechts view, as Martin Esslin believes, [the world] simply cannot be changed slowly and gradually: only violence can bring about really fundamental change. (Esslin: 1977, 233) It is the role of the spectators to reach this synthesis through many theatrical and textual means used by the playwright, and they are usually fall under the technique of Alienation Effect. According to Claude Hill, the action of the play as a whole moves on three dimensions or levels in revealing its theme. First, the dramatic dimension which emerges from Shen Te / Shui Tas encounters and involvements with other characters. Second, the philosophical dimension which is obviously presented in the Prologue and in the several short scenes, which reflect and comment on the action. The third dimension is not seen in the text but is created by the reaction of the spectator, which Brecht frequently stimulates by means of direct appeals and questions, by making the spectator an unseen judge in the last trail act, and by challenging him, in the Epilogue, to find a solution which Brecht 39

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deliberately withholds. Consequently, The protagonists judge each other on level one; they, in turn, are judges on level two; and we, on level three, judge level one and, at the same time, level two judging level one. (Hill: 1975, 126-127) Obviously, the last word is left for the audience. Dialectically speaking, Shen Te mentally and physically suffers from her existential dichotomy that it is impossible both to have money and to be good and to continue living. She wants to be good, but she cannot, with her goodness, to confront the egoism and the greed of our abnormal world. Hence, Shen Te the good woman finds that she needs a kind of power or protection. Therefore, she needs her ruthless cousin more and more often in order to reconcile her impulsive generosity with the interests of selfpreservation. Shen Tes conflict then starts. She wants to practice her altruistic impulse without the mask of her brutal male cousin but she finds this ambition impossible in a world of poverty, hatred, egoism, and hardship. Her goodness is unable to drive the parasites away or to resist Yang Suns love although she discovers, as Shui Ta, that he is marrying her for her money. She tells the audience,* I want to go with the man I love I dont want to count the cost I dont want to consider if its wise I dont want to know if he loves me I want to go with the man I love. (Sc. 5a, 71) The only one who can confront all these problems is the ruthless male cousin, Shui Ta. It means that in such a world goodness cannot survive by itself. The conflict of

Directing the speech to the spectators by the actors is one of the Brechtian theatrical means to achieve Alienation Effect, that is, to make the spectators conscious of what is going on stage, and ready to use his critical ability.

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the play, according to K. A. Dickson, shows that, individual goodness is not only inadequate to deal with the evil in the world, but, in extreme cases, suicidal. (Dickson: 1978, 141) The wealth is the main reason of this socio-political conflict among the characters. This wealth incessantly brings more and more parasites to Shui Ta hoping of getting a share in her fortune. Brecht sees the need for an analytical spectator who, whilst being entertained, becomes a thinking human being and as a result of seeing a piece of theatre would want to bring about a change. He clearly presents the unfair ideology, in which the working class has to exist. He illustrates that a capitalist society will always corrupt and that abiding by repressive laws will ultimately lead to corruption also. As a result, the only synthesis the spectator may conclude out of this dialectical conflict is that: to exist in a society without corruption, we must live in a society without wealth. As an alternative, we must live in an utopian communist society, where everyone shares everything equally. Brecht would ask that the world be changed so Shen Te can be offered a better option. By this he questions the rightness of Christian principle, being a determined believer in Marxism, which considers Christianity the opium of the people, (Singer: 2000, 28) and unsuitable as a workable social system. In other words, other ethics, morals and beliefs do not work as a solution for such socio-political dilemma. Finally, the conflicts between Shen Tes altruism and self-interests, which are indicated in her tendency to help people, her love story, and her desire to protect her unborn child from need, are not resolved. She tells the three gods, Oh, dont illustrious ones! Dont go away! dont leave me! How can I face the good old couple whove lost their store and the water-seller with his stiff hand? And how can I defend myself from the barber who I do not love and from Sun whom I do love?

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And I am with child. Soon therell be a little son wholl want to eat I cant stay here! (Act 10, 107)

To all these worrisome conflicts and problems of Shen Te, the First god answers in coolness, just be good and everything will turn out well. (Act 10, 107) Brecht seeks the Marxist synthesis of man rather than the Marxist synthesis of the gods. In other words, the will of history, which is made by man, not the will of gods, will resolve all these contradictions. He believes that simple goodness is the natural state of man. He feels that it is only the mechanics of the capitalist society which restrict and pervert this goodness. Brecht suggests, therefore, that man should strive for a society of the future in which simple goodness will be possible. Galileo verdict, unhappy is the land that needs a hero, can also be applied to Shen Te: Unhappy is the land that needs goodness as a virtue; that is in excess. (Hill: 1975, 124-125) Therefore, Shui Ta represents the paradoxical fact of our society: that to be good, man must also be bad. Because of her love for Yang Sun, who is worthless and insensible in return, Shen Te destroys the old couple who lend her money and then need it repaid when the man falls ill. This allows us to question even her goodness, and wonder how much the gods might be to blame by sullying her with money in the first place.(Abbotson: 2003, 122) They forced her to become part of a capitalist system in which she must constantly struggle to keep her head above water, frequently resorting to the wicked practices of her alter ego, and at times having to sacrifice others to stay afloat herself. Brecht wishes us to recognize that when the good are so easily destroyed in this manner, we have come to accommodate evil within the social system, and the humanitarian response should be to seek better justice in the world and make crucial changes. But since Brecht believed in Marxism, maybe it

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takes a new structure of society to change the economic environment and the plights of people.

The Premise of War and Its Ramifications in Mother Courage and her Children
What are the purposes and consequences of war? Is it for religion, for power or purely for business? Where is the hole once the cheese has been eaten? There are those who use it to make their destiny. Brecht, himself a victim of war, wrote the play in direct response to the escalating conflict in Europe in 1938-39, and it emerged as one of the most significant artistic works inspired by that period in twentieth century history. It is a damning portrait of materialism, where commerce is equated with violence and opportunism makes a mockery of ideology. In the war-torn world of the play, only the scavengers survive; by picking on the literal and metaphorical bones of those who fight (and die) in the name of causes labeled as religious or political. War and peace tussle with each other throughout the pages of human history.* If war is generally defined as armed conflict between two conflicting groups, states, or tribes, then one would have to say that war has always been a part of human experience and is perhaps even a defining characteristic of human beings. Many people have pointed out that peace presents special difficulties. It is harder to define than war and it is more difficult to cultivate and maintain. Aside from being the absence of war, peace is often

War fascinates humankind and has occurred throughout history. No culture has ever been immune to it, and the stories and experiences of many cultures around the world combine to create a global view of war and peace. Despite differences in time and geography, many of the sentiments expressed in world literature about war or peace closely echo similar thoughts in the contemporary world. Not only do these stories, some passed down for centuries, allow readers a glimpse into the past, but they also contribute to how the modern world sees war and peace today.

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understood to include the stable presence of law, order, and justice. Law, for example, is the product of centuries of tolerant human experience gained throughout the history of a given society. Justice is the fruit of reflection on the way humans relate to one another in society. A learned sense of justice cannot be acquired overnight. Social order follows from understanding, specifically from awareness that reliable, established patterns of behavior are useful to both individuals and societies. Brechts attitude towards war is derived from Marxism. The Communist Manifesto** is, at its heart, a critique of the corrosive moral changes brought about by the rapid industrialization of Europe. Marx and Engels were highly critical of the new wealthy class, the bourgeoisie. This class made its wealth from the misery of workers, the proletariat, who, for the bulk of their lives, worked up to eighteen hours a day in factories and mines. The authors revolutionary ideas came from their observation that the workers were uniting and educating themselves to better their conditions. Marx and Engels predicted a time when the bourgeoisie would become so corrupt that the workers would rise up against them in a great revolution that would destroy the bourgeoisie and result in a workers paradise. This placed workers in an explosive position, suggesting that lasting peace could only be achieved by starting a war that would completely uproot and overturn European society.

**

Manifesto of the Communist Party (German: Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei), often referred to as The Communist Manifesto, was first published on February 21, 1848, and is one of the world's most influential political manuscripts. Commissioned by the Communist League and written by communist theorists Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, it laid out the League's purposes and program. It presents an analytical approach to the class struggle (historical and present) and the problems of capitalism, rather than a prediction of communism's potential future forms. (Wikipedia)

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Though Marx and Engels did not directly advocate violence, their ideas, known as Marxism, spread throughout the world and inspired others to attack unjust and corrupt regimes by any means possible. The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society has not done away with class antagonisms. It has but established new classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old ones. Our epoch, the epoch of the bourgeoisie, possesses, however, this distinctive feature: it has simplified the class antagonisms: Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes, directly facing each other: Bourgeoisie and Proletariat. (Marx: 1969, 7)

This created the ideal of communismin which each person worked as he or she could and received what he or she neededwhich has only dissipated since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Soviet Union in 1989. Even though The Communist Manifesto inspired change and revolt against oppression, it also inspired oppression itself, producing some of the worst totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century. Marxism has permanently altered modern views of war and peace. Between the years of 1618 and 1648, the 30 Years War migrated across Central Europe from the original rebellion in Bohemia to its conclusion in Westphalia. Seeing as how this was war so lengthy, it is no surprise that it has left such a lasting mark in history. It must have also left a lasting impression on Bertolt Brecht since he decided to set his play Mother Courage and Her Children during this conflict, nearly 400 years after the event. Perhaps his inspiration for this play came about as he witnessed World War II unfolding across Europe. The political wheels in his head began to turn as he pieced this play together. He did not forget to illustrate the social, political and economical 45

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ramifications that come about in a war, including the changing roles of women and children as well as the practice of religion. Mother Courage and her Children (Mutter Courage Und Ihrekinder was first produced in Zurich Schauspielhaus, 19 April 1941) is an anti-war socio-political play, which is set during the Thirty Years War in the 17th century*. It shows a mother who tries to profit from the war in order to help her family, but loses all of her children in the attempt. Furthermore, the term socio-political mainly refers to the dialectical interrelationship between politics and the social environment of the play. Thus, the social circumstances are governed, regulated and directed by the political will and power of the authority. War is one of those political decisions taken by such authorities, which later will turn the whole social life upside down and make its own system and laws. The play opens with a recruiting officer and an army sergeant standing together, talking in the freezing snow. The recruiting officer complains bitterly about the difficulties of recruiting an army. Threatening suicide, he tells the sergeant that his difficulty finding honest, willing men to recruit has led to the loss of his faith in humanity. The sergeant explains, at length, that war is the only way of creating order. This dialogue shows wars effect on the little people. To the sound of a Jews harp, a covered cart rolls onto the stage. It is pulled by Mother Courages two sons, Eilif and Swiss Cheese. Mother Courage is sitting aloft with Kattrin, her daughter, as she sings her opening song.

The Thirty Years War (1618-1648) was part of the political upheaval that followed the Reformation which had divided Christian Europe into Protestant and Catholic states and killed off half of Germanys population. In the play, the Swedes stand for the Protestantism, and the Imperial forces represent Catholicism. See: Paul Harvey, ed. The Oxford Companion to English Literature (London: Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1967), p. 815.

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Mother Courage, unable to produce a valid set of papers, explains why she is called Courage (her real name is Anna Fierling): she once drove her cart through the bombardment of Riga in order to sell fifty molding loaves of bread. Mother Courage immediately attempts to make a sale. The recruiting officer, however, is more interested in her son than the belt buckle she tries to sell him. Mother Courage reacts violently, pulling a knife and insisting that the soldiers keep away from her children. An argument ensues between Mother Courage and the sergeant about the rights and wrongs of Eilifs signing up for service in the war. The sergeant points out that he has had a good life in the army, having joined at seventeen, but Mother Courage dryly comments that he is yet to reach seventy. Mother Courage then draws black crosses (signifying death) on slips of paper, and she invites the sergeant to select one. He is shaken when he draws a black cross. When Eilif seems keen to enlist, Mother Courage marks up several more black crosses and has each of her children draw one. She obviously has rigged the slips of paper, but in doing so she proves a prophet. All of her children are to die in the war, and Eilif is about to be taken from her under her nose. Now distracting her by haggling over a belt buckle, the sergeant occupies Mother Courage while the recruiting officer leads Eilif off into the fields. He tells Eilif, Ten gilders in advance and youre soldier of the King and a stout fellow and the women will be mad about you. And you can give me a smack in the kisser for insulting you.

(Sc. 1, 19) Dumb Kattrin jumps from the cart, making hoarse noises to warn her mother of what is going on behind the cart, but Mother Courage is occupied with her trade and pays no heed. By the time she has pocketed her profits, her son is gone.

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The slogan of scene two announces that two years have passed and that Mother Courage is about to meet her son Eilif again. The stage is split in two, with on one side the Generals tent and, on the other, his kitchen. In the kitchen we meet Generals cook, to whom Mother Courage is attempting to sell a capon that she swindled from the peasants in the nearby village. Eilif successfully killed some peasants and stolen the oxen they attempted to hide from the Generals army. The General, absolutely delighted with Eilifs heroic deed, pours him expensive wine. Mother Courage, astonished to hear her sons voice again, comments that the General-being obsessed with the heroism of his troops-must be a very poor General. That is, if good battle strategies were in place, there would be no need for heroism. Mother Courage slaps her son around the face. She does so not, she explains, because he took the oxen, but because he put himself in danger. The scene finishes in the middle of this reprimand, with the General and the Chaplain ominously laughing in the doorway. Later on, Eilif repeats the same heroic action by killing innocent peasants taking their cows a meat for his soldiers during a short interlude of peace, but he is now regarded as a war criminal and executed. Courages second son, the all-too-honest Swiss Cheese, is lost because of her mercantile inclination. She places the value of her business operationher cart full of goodsabove his life. As paymaster of a Finnish regiment Swiss Cheese hides his cash box during a successful attack by Catholic troops. When he is taken prisoner Courage can win his freedom by paying off his ransom. However, her haggling over the price of the bribe costs him his life. When Swiss Cheeses corpse is brought in, his motherto save her own lifehas to deny she even knows him. The Catholic sergeant says, Chuck him in the pit. Hes got nobody knows him. ( Sc. 3, 42)

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Kattrin is killed as well when she is attempting to warn the sleeping town of Halle from a sudden Catholic attack. She has succeeded in awaking the townsfolk, though she has given her own life in doing so. The slogan of Scene eleven comments on her heroic deed as The stone begins to speak (Sc. 11, 80) referring to her dumbness and her beating on drum from a rooftop. Mother Courage sings a lullaby over Kattrins dead body. It is time for her to get back on the road. The peasants advise her to follow the regiment immediately. Fetching a tarpaulin from her cart, she covers Kattrins body. She pays the peasants to bury her. Mother Courage harnesses herself to the cart, hoping that she can pull it alone, Hope I can pull cart all right by meself. Be all right, nowt much inside it. Go to get back in business again. (Sc., 12, 87) The noise of a regiment passes by, and Courage follows along with it, pulling the cart. From offstage, the song that introduced Courage in Scene One is repeated to end the play. Tennessee Williams has commented, I doubt that any other play has paid such homage to mankinds greatest virtue, its heroic determination to somehow, almost anyhow, keep on pulling the wagon further on. (qt. in Bentley: 1981,120) What Brecht underlines is wars omnipresence in capitalist civilization. For capitalists, war is just a business like any other business, a source of getting money and other economical profits. It is worth noting that at the early stage of the play, the first military deed the play introduces us to, is not really a military conquest but an illegal robbery carried out so that a hungry army could eat. The victims of this destructive machine of blood and death are always the innocent citizens. One of war themes of the play is that little people cannot profit from a war which runs only for the profit of the greater authorities.

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Since Mother Courage and her Children is an anti-war socio-political play, it stimulates the audiences consciousness and states that, men are indeed mostly motivated by concern for their own material and physical well-being (Spiers: 1990, 94). The play explains that war presents an opportunity for profit, ranging from politicians and world leaders through to civilians. Brechts protagonist Mother Courage is a civilian, who exploits the war by selling food and clothing to soldiers, giving her petit-bourgeois status. Comfortable in her status she ignores the damaging effects of her business and as a result her business costs Mother Courage her children. Consequently, Brechts play explains that Mother Courage consents to the system that murdered her children, the harm done to her children is associated with her business dealings. These business dealings, however, are the means by which she attempts to fulfill a mothers obligation to provide for her family. (Spiers: 1990, 99). The audience is not being asked to identify with Courage, although some of them would have been shop owners etc, but to stand back and think about the actions and how they could have been avoided. By placing the action in a historical situation the audience can be made to think: Is this how things are? This is terrible, the suffering must stop. Ergo Brechts dialectics encourages his audience not to consent to such damaging systems. In the Brechtian theatre, themes and dramatic techniques are dialectically welded together to produce the final premise of the play. When we come to Bertolt Brechts epic drama, we actually come to a modern exploitation of the episodic plot technique. The traditional cause and effect plot with its pattern of exposition, conflict, climax and resolution is generally ignored. As an alternative, Brecht should have something rather than cause and effect to connect the separate parts of his play. He finds in theme the

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suitable means to achieve this unity. Twelve separate scenes are presented in Mother Courage and her Children; each does not cause the next, yet all are thematically related to one another. At this point of thematic unity, the ideas and the techniques are manipulated and interwoven with each other. The whole play is regarded as an offproduct of corruption of war and how human values are profoundly tainted by the circumstances of such deadly business. Each scene presents a variation on this theme but it does not cause the next. In short, the twelve scenes of Mother Courage and her Children share the same war theme although they are presented through fragmentary incidents and different characters. The total corruption of society is an inevitable output of war circumstances. War always strives to establish its own ethics, substituting the peace ethics and demolishing mans moral values. He shows peace being less prosperous, a state in which finances are less assured. To shed light on how Brecht creates his own premises, in the notes to The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (1928-1929), he makes a schematic table using key words whereby the basic changes of emphasis as between the dramatic and the epic theatre are sketched. DRAMATIC THEATRE plot implicates the spectator in a stage situation wears down his capacity for action provides him with sensations Experience EPIC THEATRE Narrative turns the spectator into an observer, but arouses his capacity for action forces him to make decisions picture of the world

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the spectator is involved in something Suggestion instinctive feelings are preserved the spectator is in the thick of it, shares the experience the human being is taken for granted he is unalterable eyes on the finish one scene makes another Growth linear development evolutionary determinism man as a fixed point Thought determines being Feeling

he is made to face something Argument brought to the point of recognition the spectator stands outside, Studies the human being is the object of the inquiry he is alterable and able to alter eyes on the course each scene for itself Montage in curves Jumps man as a process social being determines thought reason

(Dukore: 1974, 847) The comparisons in the table are not antithetical, but rather indicate what he viewed as a necessary shift from the dramatic to the epic mode. Brecht proposed a more active theatre-and-audience relationship. Rather than a theatre that was set up as a place for the spectators to passively immerse themselves in an emotionally involved story that was geared toward the climax and catharsis that plot promises and delivers, Brecht desired and established a theatre that challenged the spectators to think for themselves and respond to the social issues that were brought to light by the performance. 52

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The table also clearly lists the characteristics of epic theatres form. Epic theatre uses narrative (not plot), episodic (not climactic) scenes, montage (not dramatic development), curves (not linear development), and scenes that jump (not cause and effect). These characteristics are needed as methodological tools to achieve the desired premises. Since plot tends to draw the spectator into the story, Brecht introduces the use of narratives, in which the spectator only becomes an observer. Moreover, it is presented episodically with scenes that can jump to any places or time without the spectators anticipation. This will make the spectator expelled from the story anytime s/he is drawn into it. Even more surprising, as a montage, the scenes can be presented in a series of non-linear scenes in which the spectator could not but think about what is going on on stage. Eilif, for instance, in Mother Courage and her Children, joins the army without his mothers consent and become a cutthroat soldier. The General rewards him for one of his courageous deeds that he killed many Catholic peasants taking their cows for his hungry soldiers. The General praises him by saying, youve the makings of a young Caesar. You ought to see the king. (Scene 2, 18) Eilif repeats the same deed but during a short peace interlude between the Protestants and the Catholics. He is now regarded as a war criminal and should be executed. Eilif is trying to justify his crime by saying that Its what I did last time, aint it?. (Scene 8, 69) But the Cook answers him, Aye, but its peace now. (Scene 8, 69) Eilifs actions are antiheroic, directly contributing to the death and destruction of war. His behavior counters his siblings bravery, balancing the heroic with antiheroic actions. What Brecht points out is not the criminality of war but

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the ways (as Scene One sets out) that war creates its own system of order. Eilifs heroic deed in wartime is a crime during peace. As far as Eilifs incident is concerned, the spectator in the Brechtian theatre is stimulated to draw his own conclusion (the synthesis) as in the following statement: killing innocent peasants is a crime whether it is committed during war-time or during peace-time. Eilifs inability to distinguish between the moral values of war and peace leads him to his tragic destiny. Consequently, the synthesis is formulated in the spectators mind rather than it is mentioned in the text. Brecht differs from Shaw that the former does not establish any written synthesis in the text. Brecht establishes the first incident as a thesis; Eilifs second action during peace time as the antithesis; whereas the synthesis is left for the readers or the spectators to think of. (Brecht: 1974, 229) Therefore, most of Brechts plays are open-ended. The main dialectical conflict is presented in Mother Courages character. She is caught in the contradiction between being a merchant and being a mother, between business and motherhood. It is about the inevitable loss that the mother suffers as she tries to negotiate these contradictory demands. She aims at exploiting war circumstances and to get money but without paying the price. She wants to maintain her family during the war and by means of it. She wants to serve the army and also to keep out of its clutches. Dealing with war there is no compromise either death or life. But what happened indeed that Mother Courage sacrificed her children in order to make a living. Brecht uses the exceptional circumstances or war as a means of forcing the contradictions in her character to the surface; to dramatically confront and reveal the contradictions through the brutal event so the war. Mother Courage continually curses war yet embraces

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its circumstances for profit and survival. Peace means uncertainty and loss to her, and there is no profit in uncertainty. Of her two goals, preserving her family through the war and turning a profit, she achieves neither by the plays end. All her children are dead, the canteen wagon is nearly empty, and she has little money. She is now resigned to hauling the wagon by herself. She praises war when her business is being flourished, describing war as Nice way to get living. (Act 7, 59) but she curses war when she counts her losses, War be damned. (Act 7, 59) Brecht represents Mother Courage as a social phenomenon which always flourishes during wartime. She is a good representative of a bourgeois who wants to keep her family together and her cart moving. She advises her three children not to go deep in this war, but she is completely contradicting herself since her trade completely depends on the continuity of war. Hence, she cannot keep herself out of the war which will destroy her family. In Act one Mother Courage warns her sons, taking a sheet of parchment and tearing it into two, then she says, Eilif, Swiss Cheese, Kattrin! May all of us be torn apart like this if we let ourselves get too mixed up in the war. (Act I, 9) Mother Courage is both hero and antihero; each of her positive actions has a negative complement. Brecht shows this duality as a negative consequence of war. It is an unnatural vicious state in which common values are challenged at every turn; people are forced to act on both their good and bad impulses, in the hopes that a balance of the two forces will insure success. Mother Courages behavior is driven by a need to survive during wartime, yet by the time the action in the play begins, it is clear her priorities on this matter have become twisted. She has equated the relentless pursuit of profit (her antiheroic side) with success and survival; she comes to believe that if she is profitable, it

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will allow her family to survive the war. She has allowed this side of her to rule each situation, despite what her heroic nature might dictate. Yet in the end her pragmatism and devotion to commerce leaves her emotionally and financially bankrupt. It is this last point that hammers home Brechts primary theme in the play: war is pointless, it robs people of their humanity, and, ultimately, everyone involved loses. While gains may be made in geographic terms, humanity is left poorer for the experience. Mother Courage and her three children represent another dialectical technique of characterization and structure in the play in achieving the unity of opposites towards producing the final promise of the play. Eilif, Swiss Cheese and Kattrin stand for various excessive virtues during wartime and they are consequently killed by them. Swiss Cheese, the honest paymaster, refuses to hand over the regimental cash box to the enemies and is killed, although his mother could save him by paying the compensation on the right moment, but she hesitates and haggles too long on the amount of the ransom. Eilif is executed because of his heroic deed. Kattrin, Mother Courages mute daughter, is killed by the Catholics while she is beating a drum so as to awaken the sleeping citizens of Halle. This emphasis on the virtuous elements of Mother Courages sons helps Brecht to establish and to stress the negative side of Mother Courage. Dialectically speaking, Courages cowardice and viciousness cannot critically be grasped without her sons virtues in the sense that Courage sacrifices and subordinates her family and her motherhood to her commercial inclination. Both sides, Courage and her Children are necessary to formulate the final effect of the contradiction (e.g. the synthesis). In short, the technique of unity of opposites used by Brecht reminds us of the conventional struggle between desire and duty but with some twists. In portraying his

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characters and their action, Brecht emphasizes the socio-political circumstances as basic motivations for the attitudes of human beings more than any conventional playwright did. Therefore, a clash between two characters simply means a clash between two social or political phenomena which are produced by certain existing circumstances of society. Like Bernard Shaw, Brecht uses the dialectics and the unity of opposites in portraying his characters and their action but with one difference. Shaw always mentions the three main dialectical elements of his conflict in the text: thesis, antithesis and synthesis; whereas Brecht does not. Brecht always leaves the synthesis for the spectators to formulate in their minds. Brecht felt that identifying such contradictions was an essential part of the theatres role. In his mature work, however, this interest in contradiction and dialectic becomes more positive, and Brechts reading of Voltaire and classical Chinese philosophy makes it into an exercise in clear thinking. Nonetheless, the point is that these many contradictions are not the result of poor characterization rather, they are realistic portraits of the way that real people behave in a contradictory world. War produces another corruption as a socio-political phenomenon: the Chaplain. He stands for men of religion who do not practice what they preach. In wartime, the chaplain is expected to be of great benefit to raise the soldiers spirit; on the contrary, the Brechtian Chaplain is coward, disguising, chopping wood , pulling the wagon and escaping from place to place in order to save his skin. Mother Courage allows two refugees, the Cook and the Chaplain, potential husbands or business partners to pitch their lot in with hers. She refuses both men and chooses instead her independence, her cart and her remaining family. The Chaplain is a speaker not a doer and any physical work he does is seen to be alien to him. He is

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declaring his interest and yet at the same time having to do manual labour, which he considers to be both repugnant and beneath him. He seeks to live off the business and at the same time to keep aloof from it. (Mennemeier: 1962, 144) Mother Courage is very deliberately teasing him with the fact that she is interested in the Cook. Her pipe smoking should be both flirtatious and provocative. To the Chaplain, the sight of Mother Courage smoking the cooks pipe signals that he will not win her over into having a relationship. The Chaplain first appears glorifying this great religious war by telling the Cook that, It is a war of faith. None of your common wars but a special one, fought for the faith and therefore pleasing to God. (Sc. 3, 25) Then he argues that the war will always find an outlet, mark my words, why should it ever stop? (Sc. 6, 54) But when the canons of this special war roar, the Chaplain is scared and he says to Mother Courage, Ah well, Ill be going too. Indeed, if the enemy is so close as that it might be dangerous. Blessed are the peacemakers is the motto in wartime. If only I had a cloak to cover me. (Sc.3, 28) The speed with which the Chaplain changes his robes when he learns the Catholics are attacking demonstrates that his religious principles are instantly superseded by his cowardice in the face of danger. The Chaplain is a cynical and wooden character; he represents a contradictory situation which is usually created in such people by the circumstances of war. He is at his best in time of war, when high morals take second place to necessity; in peacetime, however, he is sanctimonious and hypocritical. As usual in Brecht, it is not religion which is being criticized; it is its double standards and denial of material reality. Furthermore, the willingness of people to hide their faith when faced with persecutions is evident when the Chaplain with the Swedish army dresses himself

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different as he and mother courage are captured by a Catholic army. From that scene, one can realize that religion does not just spread from generation to generation; sometimes it can spread through force, which ultimately changes a societys culture. Despite the fact that the war had started as a religious war, because of its length many people had become apathetic about their religion at the end. This can be seen in the play as mother courage comes across an area that was under bombardment; some soldiers and the Chaplain try to help hurt peasants: No way of sorting em out in a bombardment. (Sc. 5, 49). The difference of religions no longer mattered, people needed help. After Kattrin has left, Courage lights up the Cooks pipe, and the Chaplain converses with her as he chops firewood. He dislikes the Cook, while Courage quite likes him, a foreshadowing of their future sexual partnership. He complains that his clerical talents are being underused, I happen to be a pastor of souls, not a wood-cutter (Sc. 6, 55) and - with ambiguous motives - suggests a marriage, or at least a closer (perhaps sexual) relationship. The Chaplain: Dont change the subject. Seriously, Courage, I sometimes ask my self what it would be like if our relationship were to become somewhat closer. I mean, given that the whirlwind of war has so strangely whirled us together. Mother Courage: Id say it was close enough. I cook meals for you and you run around and chop firewood for instance. The Chaplain (coming closer: You know what I mean by closer; its not a relationship founded on meals and wood-chopping and other such base necessities. Let your head speak, harden thyself not. (Sc.6, 57)

She hints that she does not want to take anyone into her business, and when he tries to appeal to her soul, she tells him, Be sensible, padre. I like you. I dont want to row you. 59

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All Im after is get myself and children through all this with my cart. I dont see it as mine, and I aint in the mood for private affairs. (Sc. 6, 57) In Scene Six, the Chaplain rhetorically asks his famous question, Where is the hole once the cheese has been eaten? (Sc. 6, 53) The Chaplain sees that war is the standard occurrence (the cheese) and peace as merely an interim incidence (the holes in the cheese). Thus peace is nothing without a backdrop of war upon it; a hole is only a hole - it contains nothing. The substance of life is war. This type of dialectical relationship used by the capitalists and military men reminds us of the speech of the Sergeant in Scene One. He says, takes a war to restore order. (Scene 1, 3) or no order, no war. (Scene 1, 4) Concerning Mother Courage and her children, obviously, (the cheese) is her children and (the hole) is how she understands her reality. She loves them but this love is abstract, which is restrained to their obedience to her and to their work with her. As long as they keep these restrictions, she will keep them safe. She could not understand that her children have their own entities. She sees only the hole, but her children are real people with real ambitions. Each child represents a virtue but in excessiveness during wartime. Swiss Cheese is a man of integrity, but she sees him as a fool. Kattrin is kind and human, but Mother Courage could not see the substance of this kindness and humanity in Kattrins depth. She slams her daughter in every interaction they have. For instance, she rebukes her for risking her life to save a baby from a burning house. Mother Courage does not accept Eilifs death and she regarded it as useless. Their use to her (her reality) was a hole framed in substance (their children), when (the cheese) is lost, the hole is exposed to never have existed. When the cheese - the children - is gone, she is nothing, and the play is over. Mother Courage has lost what supports her, and the

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story vanishes into thin air. We no longer care about Mother Courage, because what supported her personality so fully was her children. What happens to the hole when the cheese is gone? Mother Courage could not find the answer which is simply: it disappears. One of the most dangerous ramifications of war is prostitution. Millions of women have been involved in prostitution for survival on the streets. As a sad illustration of further social decay, there are about a millions women who have turned to prostitution due to the war-caused break down of social structures and traditional security mechanisms in the world. Thus, many women see the streets and prostitution as a way to freedom from conflict. Some women are also see in prostitution a way to earn more money. Yvette in Mother Courage and her Children is no exception. The character of Yvette is a perfect example of how bad people profit form war and capitalism. Yvette is a whore. She follows the soldiers wherever they go. She relies on the war to make money. She manipulates a colonel into (nearly) buying the wagon for her, and uses her manipulative skills to marry his older brother. When her husband dies she bets his inheritance. It is sad that she became a whore in the first place, but that she profited so well out if it is unfair. When directing the character of Yvette, she would at first be played as bitter, as she is yet to have much success in her trade. Later in the play, when she is getting the colonel to buy something for her, it must be made clear that she has grown more cunning and learnt how to bend people to her will. Later again, when she has received her dead husbands inheritance, she must be played as slightly smug, with a new sense of power over the soldiers she used to depend on. Yvette appears first in Scene Three when Mother Courage advises her, Dont you know you aint sposed to drink before midday with your complaint? (Sc. 3, 22)

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Yvette has a venereal disease and she refuses to discuss this matter since her business depends on. Bertolt Brecht diminishes the traditional roles of characters because they have to survive according to their situation, a confused war torn society. Mother Courage and Yvette are two characters that are individualistic and have to survive. The aim is to demonstrate how characters behave and react to social values according to the needs of the situations they are placed in, whether they conform to social rules as expected traditionally or whether they react in a more individualistic ways. In the play, moral and social issues both merge into one another. The people in the play behave as required by the dictates of war. They cannot afford to be moralistic, so they tend to be amoral in order to survive. Like Shaws point of view of prostitution in Mrs. Warrens Profession, there is no condemnation to Yvettes occupation because this is her only form of survival. In other words, Yvette is not going against any social or moral norms because there are not any, but if there was a society then Yvette would be isolated from society. To Brecht, war is a political will and decision with destructive and disparaging social consequences. War is always in the mud, its a matter of hauling the war out of the mud again. (Sc. 6, 53) The best people who can do so are the kings, emperors or the popes; they are such friends in need. Brecht saw war as an exaggerated form of capitalism where people are driven by greed to consume. For example the Recruiting Officer sizes up Eilif and Swiss Cheese as if he were buying farm animals. Yvette changes her physicality, literally rebuilding herself when she is for sale. When Mother Courage is at the peak of her business career she is robed in articles which express her wealth.

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Consequently, Mother Courage cannot resolve the conflicting roles of mother and trader and the tragedy of this play is that she thinks she can. She has to make her living from the war and the war will exact its price. Her wagon is like a military service station providing for the war, while the war provides for her and her family. Instead of launching her childrens lives, Mother Courage is trying to suppress their instinct towards independence and action because the war is not a safe place to grow up. The result is a comprehensive obliteration of lives, ethics and values.

The Behaviour

Socio-political

Context

Determines

the

Characters

Like Ibsen and Shaw, Bertolt Brecht relies on the technique of metamorphosis to transfer the character into the opposite side, the side which is determined by sociopolitical factors. In The Threepenny Opera, Polly is the only character who undergoes any significant change in the course of the play. When the play opens, she is a young, nave girl who has fallen in love. She is initially horrified by the criminality of her new husband, but gradually she accepts the circumstances of Macheaths business and even agrees to lead the gang in his absence. By the time Macheath has escaped from jail, Polly has been coarsened enough to try to trick Lucy into revealing where Macheath is hiding. The social circumstances play a tremendous role in portraying all Pollys later behaviour, action and reaction. Pollys relationship with Macheath causes the change within her character. She initially experiences his world of depravity and criminality with horror. But Polly eventually accepts the brutality all around her and helps to make Macheaths thieves accept her as their new boss after Macheath tells them he has to leave. At the jailhouse with Lucy, Polly exhibits a toughness that contrasts her perceived sweetness. This toughness belies the jealousy that lies beneath, and it displays a virtuous girl that has 63

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become cruel. Therefore, Polly undergoes internal and external conflict: Polly the innocent and Polly the professional. The external conflict that the social circumstances the personal choice put her face to face with Macheath. These conflicts are put in a dialectical formula of thesis anti-thesis and synthesis. Brecht skillfully and artistically combines the two techniques of metamorphosis and the unity of opposites to generate a new dynamic situation. His dramatic premise of the socio-political power on the individual mannerism is very clear from the very beginning. In a capitalist society in which competition rewards callousness and brutality, the characters are forced to trample on each other to survive. In The Threepenny Opera, characters make decisions not based on psychology but on the need or desire for material things such as money. Every action that furthers the plot in the play is based on a character pursuing self-interest. Peachum decides to bring down Macheath because losing his daughter will hurt his business, not because he fears for her life in the hands of a criminal. He does not consider Pollys feelings for Macheath or care that she loves him; his business concerns motivate him to destroy their marriage. Jenny turns in Macheath because she needs the money, not because she hates him for abusing her. Instead of showing loyalty to his friend, Brown agrees to capture Macheath because he is afraid of Peachums beggars disrupting the queens coronation. Everyone appears in one way or another to be engaged in the effort to cut someone elses throat for his own gain. Polly is the only character who acts out of love and not self-interest. She truly loves Macheath, so she is willing to do anything to help him. Her sweet nature turns to toughness when she must take over Macheaths business, but her love for Macheath never diminishes even when he betrays her and tells Lucy that Polly is not his wife. On the other hand, the social

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needs that are met by the characters activities are not generally regarded as healthy needs. Differences exist among them as to the character of their work; thievery and murder exist at one level, prostitution at another, merchandising of the beggars at still another. Macheath (also known as Mack the Knife) and his gang rule the lower class world of nineteenth century London. They steal, murder and rape, partially for profit and partly because they can. Macheath is a rather predatory creature filled with cynical contempt for all human beings no matter in what relation they stand to him. Operating on the basis of expediency, he is caught up with forces he does not understand and which almost succeed in destroying him. Suddenly Macheath quits thievery, and open a bank (less risk in banking and better profit). It is the same metamorphoses we have found in Hedda Gabler, Doolittle and Eliza. He is dissatisfied, though, with the small-time criminal life and aspires to middle-class legitimacy. Macheath does not change during the course of the play. At the end he remains a ruthless criminal who cannot see beyond his own selfinterest. He never expresses remorse for his crimes, nor does he consider whether he should have done something differently. He always narrowly focuses on his immediate desires and needs. Macheaths middle-class aspirations embody another set of values: the belief in upward mobility and economic progress. Traditionally, these values are associated with a progression toward power and responsibility. The socio-political background of the play and the milieu in which the character lives in strappingly determine Macheaths behaviour. Macheath wants to leave his life of crime, put his money into a bank, and acquire the trappings of middle-class life like quality furniture, tableware, and manners.

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Despite wanting to leave crime, Macheath has no intention, though, of changing his values. He steals the domestic niceties he desires, continues to visit the whorehouse even though he is married, and plans to betray his friends to make it easier to stay on the right path. By showing Macheaths desire for economic legitimacy as completely unconnected to any change, Brecht reveals that although Macheath may plan to leave his life of crime for a safer profession, his values will remain unchanged. Macheaths actions display two examples of the alienation effect. Later in the scene, when Macheath is talking with Lucy, he tells her that he would like to owe her his life, and she asks him to say this line again to her. Mac: Lucy, I should like to owe you my life. Lucy: Its wonderful the way you say that. Say it again. Mac: Lucy, I should like to owe you my life. (Act II, Sc. 6, 53) This exchange could be played naturalistically, as sweet banter between two old lovers. The other example comes earlier in the scene, when, after staring down Brown, Macheath steps out of the scene and speaks to the audience directly to comment on what he just did. These moments break the audiences emotional connection to the performers and leave them free to evaluate the characters and events of the play critically. Macheaths metamorphosis from a criminal into a business man is justified by his speech before he goes to the scaffold and it critiques the competitiveness of capitalism. Ladies and gentlemen: You see before you a declining representative of a declining social group. We lower-class artisans who toil with our humble jimmies on small shopkeepers cash registers are being swallowed up by big corporations

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backed by the banks. Whats murdering a man compared with employing a man? (Act III, Sc. 9, 76) Macheath compares the tools of his trade to those of banks and major corporations. Theft by physical force is nothing compared to theft by economic means. Macheath steals from only a few, while a bank steals from all by consolidating money and power into the hands of the rich. Macheath may be a murderer, but that role is nowhere near as bad as being an employer. This comparison portrays Macheath as the ironic hero because he commits crimes against fewer people than does Peachum or the rest of society. The implication is that employment brutalizes and exploits people far more than even murder. The sociopolitical premise is now complete: the corrupted socio-political circumstances of the character decide his mannerism. In such a society governed by the rule of exploitation it is the same whether you are a common thief or an official thief.

The Issue of Social Justice: The Caucasian Chalk Circle


The issue of justice has been an archaic controversial argument. Justice without being restricted by public laws is often called wild justice. The universal legal system evolved from the need to tame wild justice that was tearing apart early civilization. Justice, in its legal shape, may be dated back to sixth century B.C. Athens with the genius of Solon (638 BC-558 BC). (Bordenn: 1999, 12) Politicians, poets, philosophers, soldiers, merchants, practical economists as well as social critics came to power in revolutionary times with a mission to put an end to the cycles of disciplinary violence that had overwhelmed Greece for centuries. During Solons time, many Greek city-states had seen the emergence of tyrants, opportunistic noblemen who had grabbed power on behalf

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of sectional interests. Athens wanted peace and order, and turned to the man who had communicated his vision of social order and the need for justice through his poetry. Solon laid the foundation for a democratic system of justice through the first of a series of constitutions that gave birth to democracy. He instituted changes and established a legal code that brokered a non-violent social revolution and transformed the passion for vengeance into a justice system. (Bordenn: 1999, 12) This system was based on rule of and equality before the law, a redeployment of power through law, and resolution of conflict through a public court system with juries of peers in an adversarial process before the presiding judge. Religion was separated from the administration of justice for the first time in human history. In other words, Solon converted private revenge into public justice. He harnessed wild justice and made it a central part of democracy. Aeschylus* (525 BC-456 BC) was also a poet, a philosopher, a soldier, and like Solon, a fighter for justice, but his genius lay in drama. As Solon was creator of democracy, Aeschylus was creator of tragic drama and he used his art form as a weapon for democracy, law, and the peaceful resolution of conflict. During his time political upheaval threatened to sweep away democratic justice. Amidst that first crisis in 458 B.C., Aeschylus produced the Oresteia*, the greatest tragic drama in human history. It is

Aeschylus Greek[Aiskhulos] (525456 BC) a dramatist and poet He wrote some ninety plays of which seven survive. These are the trilogy Agamemnon, Choephorae (The Libation Bearers) and Eumenides known as Oresteia, together with Prometheus Bound, Seven Against Thebes, The Persians and The Suppliant Women. He was said to have been killed when an eagle dropped a tortoise on his head. (Coleman: 2007, 27)
*

The Oresteia, a trilogy, was performed in 458 BC, less than two years before Aeschylus death. Once again, he dealt with the tragedy of a royal house, a hereditary curse which began in a dim, legendary world in which Tantalus was cast into the pit of Tartarus for revealing to mankind the secrets of the gods. This situation paralleled events in Aeschylus' own life. He was reportedly charged with "impiety" for revealing the Eleusinian mysteries--the secret rites of the city of his birth--to outsiders. It is likely, however, that these charges were politically motivated, and he was not convicted.

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a window into the evolution of Athenian justice, the principles underlying its law, and the threats to justice inherent in human passions. The play is a transcendental plea for democratic justice. Zeus was both the youngest and the oldest of the brothers who were sons of Cronus and Rhea. He became the undisputed king of the gods. Although he appears comical in many stories, he was a symbol of order and justice to the ancient Greeks. In art, he appears as a dignified, bearded man, often holding a thunderbolt. (Colakis: 2007, 20) Maat is depicted as a woman standing or sitting on her heels. On her head she wears the ostrich feather which is an ideogram of her name - truth or justice. She was the Goddess of law, truth and justice. The texts describe her as the cherished daughter and confidante of Ra, and also the wife of Thoth, the judge of the Gods who was also called the Master of Maat. (New Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology: 1987, 52) All other ancient civilizations had gods of justice: Utu was a Sumerian sun-god and god of justice. He was son of Nanna and Ningal and brother of Inanna. He acted as judge of men by day and of the dead by night. Y Ti was a Buddhist god of justice in Chinese mythology. Akonadi was a West African goddess of justice and a guardian of women. Armaiti was a Persian goddess of justice. Dabog was a Russian goddess of sun and justice. Anbay was an Arabian god of justice. Dharma was a Hindu god of justice and truth. Enki was a Mesopotamian (Sumerian) creator-god of justice, water, magic and wisdom. (Coleman: 2007, 21) This huge number of gods and goddesses of justice of the ancient history clearly indicates the importance of this side of life in the human existence.

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The Athenian legal system served as a frame of reference for the first codification of Roman law. Greek drama, and the sociological, scientific and, psychological principles underlying ancient law played a role in the evolution of a great and complex Roman jurisprudence. Then as Rome declined and fell, civilization sank into the darkness of the worst of times (Bordenn: 1999, 13) and justice seemed to be extinguished by societies ruled by greed, cruel power, and raw vengeance. The furies retook Justice. Primitive magical thinking and belief in the supernatural buried the scientific attitude. Then Demonology and witchcraft metamorphosed into a cruel scapegoating preoccupation that became twin to the Plague and turned human understanding into chaos. In drama the theme of justice has a long legacy. In Sophocles Oedipus Rex, Oedipus seeks to do justice by following strictly the law he has himself decreed, in a world in which, as we discover, human justice is simply not the measure of the order of things. In Antigone, Creon punishes Antigone for her crime and tries to put the state back together after a horrifyingly destructive civil war. He ends up destroying both Antigone and his own family, as well as his kingship, leaving the state once again in chaos. (Larner: 1998, 3) Is this justice? The matter is more complicated to be answered by yes or no. We are left with prominently similar sets of dilemmas about justice in Shakespeares tragedies. If Othello had known what injustice was being practiced on him, he would have ended it. A great injustice is done to Othello the Moor. Othello is manipulated by the villain Iago to satiate Iagos need for control and his desire for revenge. Othello the General has promoted another, Cassio, to hold the position that Iago feels he deserves. For the injustice that Iago feels has been committed against him, he

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brings about the destruction of Othello and his wife, Desdemona, using Cassio as his tool for doing so. (Stoll: 1967, 57) But, unknowing, he loved not wisely but too well, and destroyed what he valued most. Where was the justice in Iagos practice on him? He futilely tried his best to expose to others the amount of injustice he had received. Consequently, he stands mute at the end of the play, Demand me nothing. What you know you know./ From this time forth I never will speak word. (V, ii, 300-301). Othello finally discovers what he has done; he kills himself-not from shame or remorse, but as an act of justice. In Macbeth, Macbeth himself knows, as we do, what is just. But he is tempted by evil, commits himself to it, and follows through, in the end losing everything he sought to promote. The justice which is at stake for Malcolm and his allies, seeking to avenge the murdered king and restore the state, is then theirs to seize. The imagery of the play suggests that nature itself reflects human justice, becoming warped, strange, diseased and dangerous when evil is afoot, and orderly and benign when the health of the kingdom is restored. Interestingly, this imagery suggests that nature takes its instruction from human inclination and behaviorthat justice forms, and deforms, in nature as it does in our own hearts and minds. In Hamlet, Hamlet unjustly rejects Ophelia, rebukes his mother, recklessly kills the person behind the arras who turns out to be Polonius, and to save his own life, agrees to go to England. We are left with the feeling that justice, which deserted Denmark when Old Hamlet was killed, is returning to its seat, and the new order will now play itself out. Daniel Larner wonders whether there is justice in Hamlet or not. Was justice done? What was the justice that was done? (Larner: 1998, 4) In tragedy the limits of

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understanding must be stretched to the breaking point to know what the limits are. So our ideas of justice are stretched, in drama, beyond their ability to take the weight placed on them by everyday affairs. The main episode of The Caucasian Chalk Circle (Der kaukasische Kreidekries was first produced, in English, in Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota, 1947) is derived from an old Chinese legend which speaks of a quarrel between two women, each of whom claimed that a baby belonged to her.* A circle of chalk was drawn on the ground; the baby was put in the centre of it. The two women were asked to take an arm of the baby, and they are told to pull the child out of the circle. The true mother preferred to lose the test rather than to hurt the baby. Therefore, the judgment was that the actual mother was the woman who refused to pull the baby. This episode is dramatized as Act Five. The complexities of the issue in this representation is great, it involves highly political and social maneuverings and questions of justice. The Caucasian Chalk Circle is divided into a prologue and five acts. The setting of the prologue is Georgia, Summer, 1945, the end of the Second World War. Amidst the ruins of a badly shelled Caucasian village two opposing sides meet to discuss the future of a valley. One group, the Rosa Luxemburg kolchos, is arable farmers who remained in the valley during the war and successfully defended the village from the Nazis. The other

In his Circle Brecht made use of elements of theme, structure and plot from a 13th or 14th century Chinese play Huilaw, or The Chalk Circle, by Li Xingfu, a play Brecht saw in German translation. See (Clark: 1960 227-58) for an English translation. He also may have been influenced by the story of Solomon in I Kings 3:16-28.) The Biblical story relates that two women came to Solomon, both of them claiming the same child, he ordered the child cut in half. The true mother chose to instead give the entire baby to the other woman, thereby revealing to Solomon that she was in fact the mother.

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group, the Galinsk kolchos, is goat-herders and were moved on during the fighting to graze their animals elsewhere. Now they have returned and the two sides must decide who is to get the land. An agronomist reveals irrigation plans which will mean a substantial increase in crop production. Reluctantly the Galinsk kolchos agree, even though historically the land has belonged to them. The dialectic, therefore, questions the polarities of justice and injustice. A famous Singer is called upon to tell a story to seal the contract. The whole action of the next five acts are related a famous Georgian singer in order to illustrate ethically the answer to this episode. This entire prologue is extremely Communist in its message. Any capitalist society would argue that whoever originally owned the land should get it. Brecht instead argues that whoever can best use the land should get it. It is because of the Communist overtones in the prologue that Brecht originally did not allow the prologue to be printed while he was living in the United States. The five acts, in turn, consist of two parallel stories. The first three acts, which form about half the play, deal with Grushas flight from the town, her dangerous journey to the northern mountains and her marriage with the dying man. The last two acts deal with Azdak the rascal judge and the episode of the chalk circle. Act One starts in Georgia, the long ago. The country, led by the Grand Duke, is fighting a disastrous foreign war with Persia. In the small town of Nukha all seems calm. A Governor, Georgi Abashvili, and his wife, Natella, leave their palace to go to church on Easter Sunday. Their only son and heir, Michael, is shown to the crowds for the first time. But a military revolution led by the princes, who are unhappy at the way the war is being conducted, is underway. They want to drive out the Grand Duke and his governors

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and the Fat Prince oversees the capture and beheading of Governor Georgi. Riots break out in the town and the palace is thrown into chaos. As servants try and pack for the Governors Wife to escape, Simon, a palace guard, and Grusha, a servant, get engaged. The Governors Wife, hurrying as the fighting gets worse, flees, leaving her child Michael behind. The Fat Prince orders his troops, the Ironshirts, to search for the child, offering 1000 piastres as a reward. After a night of soul-searching, Grusha steals away with Michael. The second and the third acts deal with Grushas sufferings during her escape with the baby to the northern mountains. She buys milk with her last few coins in order to save the hungry child; she escapes from the Ironshirts who follow her to bring the child back; she crosses a rickety bridge risking her life to save the child from the soldiers; she accepts to marry a dying man in order to provide shelter to the baby. Finally, when Simon, her fianc, returns from the war, he finds that Grusha has already a husband and a child. She tries to explain the situation when suddenly the Irionshirts seize the boy and Grusha bursts into tears crying, Leave him here, please! Hes mine! (Act III, 170), allowing Simon to suspect her of unfaithfulness rather than to give away the child to the Ironshirts. Thus, Simon is satisfied that the child really belongs to her and no one else. This incident ends the first story of the play. The beginning of the second part moves back to the first incident in Act One, the rebellion against the Grand Duke in Grusinia, (a fictional historic country in the Caucasus) telling us how Azdak became a judge who uses a large law book as a pillow to sit on. The Singer starts Act Four by singing the following lines: Hear the story of the judge

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How he turned judge, how he passed judgment, what kind of judge he was. On that Easter Sunday of the great revolt, when the Grand Duke was overthrown And his Governor Abashwili, father of our child, lost his head The village Scrivener Azdak found a fugitive in the woods and hid him in his hut. (Act IV, 171) Azdak, in fact, did not hand the fugitive over to the police. When Azdak later recognized the fugitive as the Grand Duke, he felt that he participated in a criminal act by hiding a fugitive in his cottage. Therefore, he gave himself up to the court of Ironshirts confessing what he had done. The officers were amused by his jests and made him a judge. Azdak ruled as a judge for two years. He accepted bribes, but those bribes did not affect his judgments. He has one principle, that the rights of the poor are disregarded and that this situation must be reversed. (Gray: 1969, 110) This paradoxical behaviour is itself a version of Solomonic Law, based on the Biblical story of Solomon and the baby. When two women came to Solomon, both of them claiming the same child, he ordered the child cut in half. The true mother chose to instead give the entire baby to the other woman, thereby revealing to Solomon that she was in fact the mother. After two years a counter revolt brings the old authority and the Grand Duke is back. Azdak is declared an enemy of the new regime and is stripped of his judges robes. He is about to be hanged when a messenger arrives announcing the Grand Duke would like Azdak to remain as judge. The Duke has not forgotten how Azdak saved his life. Azdak presides over a trial in which he must judge. Grusha is accused of having stolen the baby of the Governors wife during the chaos of the rebellion in the palace. Hearing

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both arguments, Azdak is unable to decide. Azdak invokes the ancient wisdom of the Chalk Circle: Michael is placed in the centre of a circle and whoever is strong enough to pull him out must be the right mother. Grusha wont pull, she cannot hurt him. Azdak orders the women to repeat the trial. Grusha again cannot pull. Azdak judges that she must be the right mother. Natella faints. Simon and Grusha thank Azdak, who signs the divorce papers not the divorce of the old couple but Grushas divorce from the man she married in the mountains. Everyone dances. Azdak disappears. The final moral justice is that both child and valley should go to whoever serves them best. Azdak must decide a dispute between two women, each of whom claims to be the mother of a child and hence the rightful guardian. In the setting it is just given that the relevant standard of justice that determines in principle the correct decision is that the woman who is more disposed to love and care for the child for his own sake deserves to be awarded custody. (The morality that the play endorses appears to be that things belong to people who are good for them.) Nobody can see into the womens characters, certainly not Azdak, who has just been introduced to them by hearing their conflicting testimony. Azdak institutes a procedure that brings it about that the womens character is revealed by their responses to a decision problem set by the court. The child is placed in the center of a chalk circle and the women are told that whoever pulls the child outside the circle will be awarded custody. The woman, who is more disposed to love and care for the child for his own sake, yields immediately rather than participate in a determined tug of war that might well break the childs body. Azdak summarily awards this woman custody.

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Azdak is the most distinguished character in the play in the sense that he is dialectically connected to the main theme of the play. Ronald Gray describes him by arguing that, There is nothing that can properly be called a self in Azdak, nothing consistent of foreseeable in his actions: he acts on impulses. He sets no store by his actions, any more than Grusha does by hers, and it is this that helps to make him the most fascinating character in the play, insulting and generous, preposterous and humble, ignorant and wise, blasphemous and pious. (Gray: 1969, 110) It is worth noting that Azdaks character provides the best illustration of the tendency of Brechts most characteristics work assume the guise of comedy. Indeed, some elements of Brechts technique of characterization belong to the stock-in-trade of conventional comedy. Azdaks contradictory and strange behaviour is designed in a way to reflect the essential discrepancies of which reality is compound; therefore his character tends to have a comic rather than a tragic effect. Brecht himself tells one of the producers, Giorgio Strehler, that if he wants to fulfill a truly epic effect in a play it would have to be directed along the lines of a comedy, on the grounds that the comic characters are impartially and critically alienated. (Dickson: 1978, 251) Claude Hill shares Keith Dicksons view that this dimension of humour is a direct result of Hegels dialectics (Willett: 1964, 85) since there is no humour in Marx. On the other hand, Brechts dramatic intention of such mixture of humour and dialectics in The Caucasian Chalk Circle is to sharpen the ironical and satirical contrast between Grushas seriousness and Azdaks comic situation. Thus the caricature and comic portrayal of Azdak enables the

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audience to condemn critically the whole corruptions of the ruling class, their injustice and the whole bourgeois society of the play. John Symonds comments on this point by arguing that, Brecht was the counterpart in the theatre of George Grosz, the savage caricaturist of bourgeois and capitalist society. (Symonds: 1978, 65) Azdak is obsessed with justice. He professes to believe that a new age of spontaneous justice is at hand. He insists, on discovering that he has sheltered the Grand Duke himself, a murderer and tyrant, on being taken into Nukha in chains to be judged. His appetite for justice sorts ill with his self- indulgence, cowardice, and self-protective cunning. He insists on being punished as much in the hope of avoiding excessive punishment as of furthering justice. When Azdak learns that he has miscalculated in assuming the proletariat to be in control, he repudiates his revolutionary song, cringes and whines. Yet even in the presence of Prince Kasbeki himself and the gallows with which he has already been threatened, he cannot resist the lure of justice when he is invited to play the part of the Grand Duke in a mock trial. He launches into a savage and brilliant attack on the conduct of the war by the princes, which, but for the nice balance of power between Kasbeki and the soldiery, would certainly have cost him his life. Kasbeki shrieks Hang him, but dare not contravene the soldiers, who have taken a fancy to Azdak, and, perhaps, perceived some justice in his account of the war: War lost, but not for princes. Princes have won their war. Got themselves paid 3,863,000 piastres for horses not delivered. 8,240,000 piastres for food supplies not produced. Are therefore victors. War lost only for Grusinia, which is not present in this Court. (IV, 182)

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The Judge was always a rascal. Now the rascal shall be Judge. Azdak manages to remain a Judge for two years. His judgments are presented as high comedy, but the basic justice of them is clear, and the presence of the gallows on stage serves to remind us that Azdaks career may end as quickly as it began. Thus, the questions which introduce Azdak story are: what sort of justice can give Grusha the child she deserves? The judgment of the Chalk Circle, which only Azdak could have given, is that the child shall go to the maternal that it thrives; and the disinherited lands shall be a public park. Clearly Azdak was right. But was he just? How widely do such principles apply? Understanding this work as a parable for the theatre, Brecht is asking us whether we can, or should, run a society based on them. Dramatically, we have a melodrama with a happy ending: will Grusha and the child survive all the nasty people who threaten their lives and their new-found status as a family?(Larner: 1998, 14) The following argument tries to find solutions for such inquires as far as justice is concerned. There cannot be a set definition of justice in our free society because everyone has his own insights and acts on his own thoughts. Justice is very hard to explain because it is very abstract and has many controversial aspects. The Old Testament and Platos Republic offer us great insights into the meaning of justice, but neither one can give a clear and flawless definition of what true justice is. John Rawls argues in Theory of Justice: Justice is the first virtue of social institutions, as truth is of systems of thought. A theory however elegant and economical must be rejected or revised if it is untrue; likewise laws and institutions no matter how efficient and well-arranged must be reformed or abolished if they are unjust. Each person possesses an inviolability founded on justice that even the welfare of 79

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society as a whole cannot override. For this reason justice denies that the loss of freedom for some is made right by a greater good shared by others. It does not allow that the sacrifices imposed on a few are outweighed by the larger sum of advantages enjoyed by many. Therefore, in a just society the liberties of equal citizenship are taken as settled; the rights secured by justice are not subject to political bargaining or to the calculus of social interests... [A]n injustice is tolerable only when it is necessary to avoid an even greater injustice. Being first virtues of human activities, truth and justice are uncompromising. (Rawls: 1971, 3) There is no equivocation here, and no entanglement with larger or higher powers. Nonetheless, this works much like the justice Oedipus wants to find in Thebespure and clear. Where there is a problem, go after it and drive it out. We are either sick or well, a circumstance is either just or unjust, and through diligence and investigation we can accurately determine the truth. No one should have to suffer for anyone else. We will solve the injustice of the plague, Oedipus declares, and establish the reign of justice again in Thebes, where the kings promises of order and protection will once again order and protect. But in the play this does not work. Neither the gods nor human order allow Oedipus his perfect plan. Oedipus goal was to rescue the people and save the state. For Oedipus, as for Rawls, social justice is the focus, not individual justice. But individual justice is what he so ironically reaps. The state is saved from plague, but he takes his punishment upon himself, and casts himself out to wander, eyeless in Attica. The double irony is that this, in turn, leaves the state rudderless and in chaos. Rawls develops the

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thesis that justice can be understood as fairness, when all the members of the society are appropriately in agreement with a set of principles of justice. Generally speaking, social justice laws are those society values that determine which is right or wrong but that work within the framework of public law. Social justice occurs when all members of a society share equally in the social order, secure an equitable consideration of resources and opportunities, and enjoy their full benefit of civil liberties. Social injustice could include any social problem-domestic violence, political oppression, and other violation of human rights. One of the main characteristics of the social justice is that it is indefinite. Consequently, the definition of justice is often thought of being controversial and confrontational. This theory is sometimes true, but can cause a huge dilemma. How can we live by the rules when they are not definite? Everyone is just seeing a part of the big picture. It may seem that there may not be a definite justice, but it is just something that exists. An example of this theory is the idea of a circle. One can never actually draw a complete circle perfect. This is scientifically impossible. So how does one know that there is a circle? One has an idea of what it is, and they draw their own version of the absolute definition of that circle. Accordingly, Azdaks trick fails to satisfy the norm that a just societys basic structure of institutional arrangements be public. Azdaks rule cannot fit within a stable system of rules that is public in this sense. For one thing, the rule can be exploited by the clever. If I foresee that losing the tug of war gains me custody of the child and I want custody, I will make haste to be the first to lose the tug of war and gain custody. Azdaks trick works in a particular setting; in other settings, with other agents, different measures would be needed.

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Bertolt Brecht wants to emphasize his Marxist point of view that law protects and secures the interests of the ruling classes and within this class justice the poor can only gain justice under a series of chances, whims and exceptional circumstances that not linked to the law as it should be in a feudal regime. Brecht in the play seeks to underline the difference between justice and the law within Grusinia. The feudal society, or Marxist society, is shown to have harder implications for the poor than the even distribution of wealth which is the main emphasis of the Marxist state. The Marxist law is not equated with justice for all rather justice for the upper classes, or class justice, where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Azdak although seen as the arbiter of justice between Natasha Abashwilli and Grusha is shown throughout the play as greedy and corrupt when dealing with the upper classes. He swindles them into giving him money for a bribe then turns about and gives a contradicting verdict against the upper classes. This duplicity when passing judgment is seen by the audience but the lower classes see that for once the law is on their side. This is the final hint that Grusha will get the child, as she is good for the child and will continue to do good for the child, contrasting to Natasha Abashwillas intent to get the child only to keep her late husbands estate. Furthermore, the play tries to distinguish between the two traditional concepts: the law of property and the heriditary right as part of the social justice.* The whole action of The Good Woman of Setzuan abandons them in favour of a new type of justice whose values are to be worked out in the play and celebrated in the epilogue: But you, you who have listened to the Story of the Chalk Circle, Take note what men of old concluded:

See Wigner, Charles. Justice. New York: MaClure, Phillips and Co., 1905.

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That what there is shall go to those who are good for it, Children to the motherly, that they prosper, Carts to good drivers, that they be driven well, The valley to the waterers, that it yield fruit. (V, 195) The law, at the beginning of the play, is merely a prop for injustice, exploitation and corruption. Great care is taken of the Governors heir, more care indeed than is likely to produce a thriving child, but this care springs not from parental love, but from the knowledge that the child guarantees the continuation of injustice for a further generation. In these decisions, Azdak intentionally disregards the actual law in order to administer a rough justice that helps the poor. It is heavily ironic that the crowd of beggars and petitioners should forget their complaints in their obsequiousness: God bless the child, Your Grace. (I, 124)

When danger threatens, the province itself is light-handedly lost through blindness: Oh, blindness of the great! They wander like gods Great over bent backs, sure Of hired fists, trusting In their power which has already lasted so long. (I, 129) The old law is at last overthrown. The town Judge is strung up by the carpetweavers. For a time there is chaos. The princes and soldiers in uneasy alliance keep up a semblance of authority. Another type of injustice will replace the old one through these endless eruptions and revolutions. This is the way of the world, in every case the powerful smashes the powerless, and in turn both will be smashed by larger powers in a ruthless and nasty progression. This is painted both as the nature of the human species, and the definitive legacy for our time.

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In short, all Brechts plays have strong socio-political messages, which condemn capitalism regarding it as the main source of all socio-political corruptions in any society including the issue of justice. Brecht viewed human beings as helpless animals who were battling against the vicissitudes of life, at the mercy of ineluctable fate; determined by society and relentless, insidious circumstances. This is why he endeavoured to arouse people from their inactivity and listlessness. He visualized a world where people would stand up for their rights. He was not interested in illusions; he relished mental and intellectual motivation that might lead to the kind of revolution that Marx himself had contemplated. His sole concern lay in making a different world, where everyone would be given a fair crack of the whip.

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References

Abbotson, Susan. Thematic Guide to Modern Drama. Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2003. Althusser, Louis. For Marx. Part II. London: The Penguin Press, 1969. Bentley, Eric. The Brecht Commentaries. New York: Grove, 1981. Bordenn, A. Walter. A History of Justice. AAPL Newsletter. Vol. 24, No. 2, April, 1999, pp. 12-14. Brecht, Bertolt. The Threepenny Opera. Trans. Ralph Manheim and John Willett. London: Eyre Methuen, 1979. Brecht, Bertolt. The Good Woman of Setzuan. Parables for the Theatre. Translated by Eric Bentley. London: Penguin Books, 1982. Brecht, Bertolt. The Caucasian Chalk Circle. Parables for the Theatre. Translated by Eric Bentley. London: Penguin Books, 1982. Brecht, Bertolt. Brecht on Theatre. Translated by John Willett. London: Eyre Methuen, 1974. Demetz, Peter. Ed. Brecht: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englwood Cliffs: PrenticeHall, 1962. Dukore, Bernard. Ed. Dramatic Theory and Criticism: Greeks to Grotowski. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, inc., 1974. Eagleton, Terry. Marxism and Literary Criticism. London: Mathuen, 2002. Gay, John. The Beggars Opera. Oregon: University of Oregon, 1995.

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Gramsci, Antonio. An introduction to his thought, London: Pluto Press, 1970. Gray, Roland. Brecht. Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyed, 1969. Hill, Claude. Bertolt Brecht. Boston: G.K. Hall and Co., 1975. Larner, Daniel. Justice And Drama: Historical Ties And Thick Relationships. Legal Studies Forum. Vol. 22, No. 1,2,3. 1998. pp. 1-17. Lubbock, Mark. The Complete Book of Light Opera. New York: Appleton-CenturyCrofts, 1962. Pellicani, L. Gramsci An Alternative Communism? New York: Hoover Press Publication, 1981. Singer, Peter. Marx: A Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. Speirs, R. John. Bertolt Brecht. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1990. Speirs, Roland. Ed. Brechts Poetry of Political Exile. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Symonds. John.The Unclosed Eye. London Magazine. Vol. 8, No. 2 (May 1978) : 5972. Brecht, Bertolt. Mother Courage and her Children. Translated by John Willett. London: Methuen Drama, 1988.

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