Epic Essay : ' The Caucasian Chalk Circle '

2281 Words Nov 26th, 2014 10 Pages
Epic Existentialism in Bertolt Brecht 's "Caucasian Chalk Circle" On the heels of Friedrich Nietzsche 's infamous statement "God is dead," which seemed to be affirmed by the horrors of World War II, some scientists and philosophers have attempted to explain away the idea of an almighty, benevolent God. With the sudden unpopularity of religious belief, some intellectuals began to theorize alternative meanings for life, suffering and the desire for justice. One such theory, known as existentialism, was conceptualized by Jean-Paul Sartre, and adopted by artists like Bertolt Brecht. The premise of existentialism is that human beings give meaning to their own lives by their actions. It is the belief that there is no external force manipulating or guiding the outcome of human lives. This philosophy frees human beings from religious notions of sin, but also causes great anxiety by rendering human actions and decisions ultimately meaningless.
In response to this dismal sequence of ideology, the style of Brechtian plays (known as "epic theatre") is said not to make truth claims, but to encourage the audience to think for themselves. Bertolt Brecht uses the theatre to produce life-like scenarios while inviting the audience to objectively observe the characters and judge their actions. As discussed in Dr. Sokalski 's lecture, epic theatre subverts the norms of naturalist theatre both aesthetically and dramatically. While naturalism attempts to "hold a mirror up" to society, epic…

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