Endless Sufferings: Mother Figure in Brecht’S Mother Courage and Her Children

Endless sufferings:   Mother figure in Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children


      Brecht began writing plays as early as 1919, and in a very few years he was forging a place for himself in modern drama with such innovative works as Trommeln in der Nacht (pr., pb. 1922; Drums in the Night, 1961), Im Dickicht der Stadte (pr. 1923; In the Jungle of the Cities, 1961), and Die Dreigroschenoper (pr. 1928; The Threepenny Opera, 1949). His great decade as a playwright, however, was the 1940’s, which witnessed the production of first  Mother Courage and Her Children  and then  Leben des Galilei (pr. 1943; Life of Galileo, 1947),  Der gute Mensch von Sezuan (pr. 1943; The Good Woman of Setzuan, 1948), and Der Kaukasische Kreidekreis (pr. 1958; The Caucasian Chalk Circle, 1948), among others. By the time he began writing Mother Courage and Her Children, Brecht had already developed the theory behind his epic theater and begun to put it into practice; he had also demonstrated a subtle and passionate grasp of socio-political issues. The 1940’s was a fertile decade for Brecht for several reasons, not the least of which is the simple fact that by then he had reached full maturity, because   personal circumstances galvanized him to creative action.
      Mother Courage and Her Children is the simplest of great plays to understand because the singlemindedness with which the author presents his theme of the horror of war/capitalism is aided by his technical innovations. “Epic theater” is the label that Brecht gave to his drama, a label derived from Brecht’s belief that modern drama should abandon the traditional Aristotelean model and aspire instead to the condition of epic poetry—at least in some regards.
      Brecht’s epic theater deliberately distances the audience from the action, just as does epic poetry, with its narrator interposed between audience and story. Brecht...