Mother Courage and Her Children by Kimberly Nancarrow on Prezi
The unflinching moral lessons of Mother Courage and Her Children are on relationships with other characters, especially Mother Courage. Culture in Mother Courage and Her Children cancer most of his life; exposed to Luther's German Bible; Many relationships, many children. Is Mother Courage and Her Children an anti-war play? . modern disfigurement: a relationship to commodities, money and the marketplace.
Small-time entrepreneurs such as Mother Courage were able to supply in-demand items and carve a profitable niche for themselves. Individuals in every country, directly involved or not, suffered during World War II and not just because of the wartime economic realities.
In Germany, Hitler and his Nazi party held a tight ideological grip on the populace. In addition to their anti-Semitic policies, the Nazis did not allow freedom of the press or other forms of free expression.
People who did not agree with government ideology and expressed those beliefs were dealt with in a harsh manner; many were imprisoned, tortured, and murdered.Mother Courage and her Children - One Act Play
A great number of Jewish scientists and artists, as well as every-day citizens, fled the country if they were able. Though Brecht was not Jewish, he professed communist beliefs and was critical of the Nazi party. Many of his plays were banned. He escaped, his family fleeing Germany in He spent almost all of the next decade moving around Europe and the United States, avoiding the Nazi occupation. His story is typical of many people in wartime Germany.
Such refugees usually had only one focus: Though Mother Courage was written in the lates, it was not produced until April 19, There is no widespread warfare in the world. Global or continent-wide wars have given way to small pockets of geographically contained conflict such as the Persian Gulf War of the earlys.
World War II is a tactical war fought for geographic gain. Religion plays a role in several regional conflicts in the world. Germany has mandatory military service for men aged eighteen to forty-five.
The United States has a similar policy. The United States has an all-volunteer army and has a hard time recruiting enough personnel. However, eighteen-year-old men are required to register for the draft in the event of a war. The population of Europe, especially in Germany, becomes severely depleted because of the long war and unchecked disease.
For example, in the Wuttemberg, the population drops fromintoin Still, as a result of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in50, people immediately die. The peacetime population booms.
Diseases such as AIDS, cancer, and other health concerns are the primary causes of death. Zurich, a major theater, and was immediately successful—despite the fact that the country was surrounded by Nazis and invasion was always a possibility. Brecht was regarded as a leftist and his plays were banned by the Nazis in German. One critic, for the major Swiss newspaper, compared Mother Courage to a Shakespearean character.
Other productions in postwar Europe were also well-received. The first American productions of Mother Courage were not as highly acclaimed as their European counterparts.
The first performance, in San Francisco inreceived tepid reviews. The character of Mother Courage, and what she represents, has been a major point of critical discussion. Many critics, especially of the first production in Zurich, argued that she is a tragic character.
In several articles, she is compared to the tragic figure of Niobe, a character from Greek mythology who suffers greatly and turns to stone after all her children are killed. An Approach to the Modern Drama, said: Brecht, as well as many critics and scholars, asserted that the play is about the link between war and commerce, as epitomized in Mother Courage and her love-hate relationship with war and the money it brings her. Lyons in his Bertolt Brecht: It is this accommodation which Brecht decries.
She curses it because her daughter has been assaulted. To this question, Brecht gives, as always, an ambiguous answer. Petrusso In this essay, Petrusso discusses the character of Mother Courage as both a hero and an antihero. Yet opinions vary widely on the nature of her true character. Some have labeled her a greedy coward; some call her a callous, practical businesswoman; still others deem her courageous.
In this essay, Mother Courage is examined as both a hero and an antihero. For every heroic action she takes, she balances it with an antiheroic gesture. By definition, a hero is courageous and noble, distinguished by bravery and admired by others.
Tony Kushner: Mother Courage is not just an anti-war play | Stage | The Guardian
An antihero is the exact opposite, someone who wallows in negative actions. By looking at Mother Courage in this bifocal fashion, a greater understanding of her motives—specifically the choices she makes—will be reached. Mother Courage has two goals: During a battle in Riga, the former Anna Fierling drove her canteen wagon through a ferocious bomb attack so she could sell fifty loaves of bread before they went moldy.
She claims she needed to sell the bread to feed her children, but by doing so, she put herself and everyone in the wagon at risk. As a hero, she wants to survive the war and support her children, As an anti-hero, she puts that very intention at risk to earn money.
The Adventuress, a novel written inis centered around a character much like Mother Courage. It is one of the sources Brecht used for Mother Courage. King Leara play by William Shakespeare written aroundconcerns a family in which the tension between greed and caring plays a role in their destruction.
Wedgewood inis a history of the war, focusing on its effects in Germany. With few alternatives, it is definitely more appealing than prostitution. Instead of begging for a living or abandoning her children, Mother Courage is responsible for her family.
Her canteen allows her to take care of her children while fulfilling a basic need for the soldiers. Yet Mother Courage takes advantage of her heroic situation, looking to the war as a potential for profit and her children as a means to that end.
She charges outrageous prices for her goods and refuses charity to those in need. She is called greedy several times and regularly puts profit before people. While Mother Courage does take care of her children, keeping them fed and clothed, and tries to protect them from direct participation in the war, she loses each of them in her quest for profit. She spends much of the first scene trying to keep Eilif from being recruited to a Swedish army regiment.
The officer takes Eilif aside and convinces him to sign up while the sergeant haggles with Mother Courage over the price of a belt buckle. If she had not been so concerned with profit, Eilif would not have been recruited and subsequently executed for a crime.
When he is captured by Catholic soldiers, she haggles over the amount of a ransom that is offered to save him from the firing squad. Her greed prolongs the transaction, and Swiss Cheese is killed before a price is settled.
The mute daughter is left with a peasant family overnight while Mother Courage is in a town purchasing goods. When Kattrin learns of a surprise attack on the town, she climbs to a rooftop and drums out a warning. Her selfless act saves her mother and the town, but she is killed by soldiers. Yet this is not a black and white issue: Mother Courage does make some sacrifices for her children and others as well. Her outfit has followed the Protestant armies, namely the Swedish, for most of the war.
During an attack by the Catholics and a subsequent detention, Mother Courage does her best to hide the Protestant Chaplain who had been visiting her. Similarly, when the Swedish army Cook catches up to them and has nowhere to stay, Mother Courage lets him travel with them—though on the same work-for-shelter terms as the Chaplain. Mother Courage and the Cook share a mutual affection for one another.
When the Cook gets an offer to run an inn in Utrecht, he invites Mother Courage to assist him. She declines this opportunity to get away from the war.
This act shows the title character taking responsibility for her child, though some have argued that Mother Courage is not interested in working for the Cook and simply needs Kattrin to carry on her independent business. In scene five, the canteen wagon is located at Magdeburg, where a recent battle has taken place. In a nearby farmhouse, several peasants are suffering from injuries and their home is partially destroyed. The Chaplain begs Mother Courage for some linen to bandage their wounds.
Of her three children, two perform heroic acts, which says something positive about how she raised them. This action probably saves their lives. The mute Kattrin pursues her heroism to much greater lengths, taking great personal risks to help others.
Kattrin tries to warn Swiss Cheese about the spies that are following him before his arrest to no avail. When Kattrin overhears the Cook telling Mother Courage that Kattrin is not part of the offer, Kattrin makes ready to leave so that her mother can have a better life. Mother Courage refuses to abandon her daughter, however, and they move on together. The mute girl care also shows great concern for the wellbeing of those outside her family, forcing her mother to surrender the linen for bandages and risking her life to save children from a fire.
At the end of the play, Kattrin does give her life to save a town from a surprise attack. The upbringing of these two children is implicitly heroic for Mother Courage.
After Eilif is recruited, he becomes a cutthroat soldier. He is lauded by his commander for his skill as a killer and for pillaging a peasant village, including the clever theft of a herd of oxen. Later, he is arrested for the same crime during peacetime. It is implied that he is executed for this. Mother Courage and Her Children is play full of such balances and contradictions.
Mother Courage continually curses war yet embraces its circumstances for profit and survival. Peace means uncertainty to her, and there is no profit in uncertainty. 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. Mother Courage is both hero and antihero, each of her positive actions has a negative counterpart.
Brecht shows this duality as a negative consequence of war. It is an unnatural perverse 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.
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 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.
While gains may be made in geographic terms, humanity is left poorer for the experience. Petrusso, for Drama for Students, Gale, Thus, it is claimed, we respond not to the story of Mother Courage but to the character herself. We respond to the play in terms of our response to its title character.
In short, we identify with Mother Courage, make her character our own, and turn her survival into an encouraging affirmation of our own human will to survive. Mother Courage is, ultimately, truly courageous, and her courage sees her through all her tribulations: We are better able to face with internal valor the hardships of our own existence, better able to bear the burdens placed upon us by our society.
The Man and His Work, Anchor, Similarly, Eric Bentley finds in Mother Courage an affirmation and admiration for a certain kind of courage. If critics have made of Mother Courage primarily a play of character and attributed its success to the empathy audiences feel for the title character, producers and actors have been quick to respond to this challenge.
And what actress can really be impervious to the temptation of playing for this empathy. Even Helene Weigel, once Brecht was gone, seemed in the eyes of at least one observer, to be playing for more empathy than the playwright might have wished. She did not so much underplay, I felt, as overstate, taking a good deal more time to cool things if that was it than she needed. This is all very fine—one supposes. But it is not the play Brecht wrote. Nor is it as good or as important a play as the one Brecht wrote.
As a play of character, Mother Courage is an insignificant portrait. Our consciousness of human existence is no more broadened than when we entered the theater. If, on the other hand, we are unable to identify with Mother Courage, unable to feel empathy for such an unsavory heroine, we are able to see the causes and roots of the evil she represents. Realizing further that this evil is a result of the nature of society, we, as parts of society, share in the guilt for that evil.
Without empathy we see ourselves not as Mother Courages preyed upon by a hostile society, but rather, as members of that predatory and hostile society. Where our critics, actors, and producers —and ourselves as playgoers, no doubt—have made of Mother Courage a play that is in the long run comforting, Brecht wrote a play that is highly disturbing, a play that brands us all with a collective guilt for the evils of the world.
One reason, probably, for the misdirection which analyses and productions of Mother Courage have taken is that most of the playwrights of the last hundred years at least have accustomed us to viewing plays primarily in terms of character. The psychological complexities of a Willie Loman, a Hedda Gabler, or a Henry IV are meant to give us valuable insight into our own psychologies.
If we accept a system of belief in which behavior is controlled by individual psychology, then indeed those plays do accomplish their task. Brecht, however, we must remember, was, whether or not he was an orthodox Soviet Communist, a thoroughly conditioned and fully believing Marxist. For him, the primary determinant of human behavior was external.
Individual behavior, to any Marxist, is the product of the social and economic structure in which that individual lives. Individual psychology is merely a superstructure built upon a pre-established socio-economic foundation. Given this presupposition, Brecht, when he wrote plays dealing with individual human beings, had to find a way of showing the action of these individuals in relation to its social foundations. To do this, he turned from the individually oriented drama of character to the drama of action or narrative.
We are to see the progress from event to event, to see how one event causes or leads to another. That Mother Courage is to be regarded as a narrative play is clear from its subtitle: Survival, for Brecht, is the first instinct of the human race, and to assure that survival the first principle of all behavior. When other instincts run contrary to the instinct to survive, they will be sacrificed.
Thus, Mother Courage, when faced with the loss of her children as the price of survival, has no choice in the matter. She has no choice but to haggle until it is too late. Similarly, she has no choice but to deny recognition of her son anti leave him without ministration. The same lack of choice is evident in the death of Kattrin. In order to provide for her livelihood Mother Courage must leave her daughter unwatched, where she can bring harm upon herself.
Again, Mother Courage must deny her daughter any last ministrations in order to catch up with the marching soldiers from whom she gains her living. In each major episode of the narrative, Mother Courage, to assure her economic survival, has to deny some good instinct that threatens by ramification that survival. Thankfully, every supporting cast member rose to her level to create a tight ensemble that powerfully conveyed the force of the ideas of playwright Bertolt Brecht.
Yet, all of the supporting cast was somehow able to breathe life into these characters. With just gestures, body language, and eye contact, Hodson created meaningful relationships with other characters, especially Mother Courage. Morgan is also skilled at disrupting the action of the play without making the play feel choppy.
This skill was especially apparent in the scenes where Mother Courage would be rummaging through her wagon as her children engaged with other characters. Barta Heiner as Mother Courage. Like the protagonists of ancient Greek drama, Mother Courage has an inherent character flaw that results in her downfall. But Brecht refuses to let her downfall be the consequence of some decree of the Gods, which makes her ruin the result of her own actions.
But it is also hard to fully blame Mother Courage because she did not choose to live in a time of war.
Mother Courage and Her Children
Brecht builds many of his plays around a compelling protagonist, and Mother Courage is probably the most engrossing character he created. The result is a two-hour secular sermon on the evils of war and the dehumanizing results of capitalism. The visual style is characteristic of many Brecht productions, with a mostly bare stage punctuated by a single leafless tree in the center of the stage set design by Russell Richins.