Bertolt Brecht by Dr. Azher Suleiman

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By Dr. Azher Suleiman

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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 theatre’s role. In his mature work, however, this interest in contradiction and dialectic becomes more positive, and Brecht’s reading of Voltaire and classical Chinese philosophy makes it into an exercise in clear thinking.

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: I’d 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; it’s not a relationship founded on meals and wood-chopping and other such base necessities. Let your head speak, harden thyself not.

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 you’re 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.

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