Mother Courage and Her Children Essay

1600 Words Jul 17th, 2005 7 Pages
"Mother Courage and her Children", by Bertolt Brecht, is a play which can be seen from varying perspectives. Some consider it to be a comment on the socio-economic aspects of war, others as a criticism of bourgeois capitalism intended to encourage change in modern society. The somewhat tragic events of the play enable critics to consider it a "tragedy", but one which, to some extent, diverges from the Aristotelian definition. Aristotle believed that tragedy must revolve around a central character: the "tragic hero", on whom the plot focuses and who exhibits certain characteristics, which leads to his, though in this particular case, her, downfall. The role of such a figure is pivotal to the presentation of a play as a tragedy; yet it …show more content…
The downfall of Mother Courage is far from orthodox in Aristotelian terms. Whereas a tragic hero would conventionally die as a result of a reversal of fortune, Mother Courage is the sole survivor of her unwavering exploits. In addition, Mother Courage's actions in the final scene prove that she has learned nothing: she pays little attention to the death of her daughter and the play closes with her attitude of "Got to get back to business again". The absence of catharsis is a direct result of Brecht's alienation technique: rather than targeting the audience's emotions, Brecht focuses on increasing the audience's awareness of an aspect of society which is unjust in order to provoke change by appealing to their reasoning above their feelings and thus it would be uncharacteristic of Mother Courage to purge herself of emotion. Through her insouciance, it becomes clear that Mother Courage does not possess enough virtue to be considered even remotely heroic. This renders her distinctly dislikeable. Although many tragic heroes, such as Arthur Miller's Willy Loman and Shakespeare's Macbeth, may not always appear moral and righteous, there is a significant and permanent lack of compassion on the part of Mother Courage, which is displayed in Loman's suicide to provide for his family and Macbeth's relationship with his wife, which hinders her status as a tragic heroine. Loman also demonstrates that, due to the effect of time and

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