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Mother Courage and Her Children by Bertolt Brecht

This play entitled “Mother Courage and Her Children” was about a story of a mother and her three children. (par. 1) The mother, who was “a canteen woman, pulls her cart with her three children (Eilif, Kattrin, and Swiss Cheese) in the wake of the army, trades with the soldiers, attempting to make profit from the war. ” (par. 1) Mother Courage has a wagon of food and stuff which she sells to the soldiers. In the duration of the play, Mother Courage loses her children one by one. First she loses Eilif.

There was a recruiting officer complaining of difficulty of getting soldiers for the war. Eilif was taken for recruitment as Mother Courage was “distracted with the promise of a transaction” (William, par. 1) by the army officers. Then a few years later, she loses Swiss Cheese. He worked as a paymaster for the General. When a Catholic attack occurred, he hid and kept the paybox but soon after he went to see the general to return the paybox, he was captured by the enemy. Mother Courage bargained for his child’s life but was shot to death.

After several years, he loses Kattrin, who was also shot dead by the enemies. During a search, she went up the roof, played the drum, to awake the people and warn them of an impending siege. By the end of the story, Mother Courage harnesses the cart to herself. This time the cart is almost weightless, “since there is so little left in it to sell. ” (William, par. 3) According to Robert William, the author of “Mother Courage and Her Children” Bertolt Brecht created the story in the year 1938-39 when the “World War Two was just about to commence in Europe. ” (par.

1) He wrote this during the time of exile and it was in 1949 when the play was initially shown in his home country, in the East of Germany. All occurrences, portion and emotions conveyed in the play are affected by the events of a war. In particular, the play showed how Mother Courage struggles during wartime, having endured the loss of all her children. Ironically, she continued her canteen business despite the war to feed her children, only to get them all dead in the end. However, the lower class, which they belonged to, is actually left with no choice.

As William mentions, on the one hand, they can choose to play in the market during wartime and face dangerous risks. On the other hand, they can choose not to engage in business but they will go hungry. Furthermore, brutal soldiers, either way, can take their goods from them. In Brecht’s own words, his intentions for creating such a play is to show that “in wartime the big profits are not made by little people… war is a continuation of business by other means, makes human virtues fatal even to their possessors.

That no sacrifice is too great for the struggle against war. ” (cited in William, par 2) Only the big people, the capitalists, can financially gain over wars such as this. The little people like Mother Courage, who works as a canteen woman, chose to still try to make a profit during the war for her family, thus, suffering great consequences. It is worthy to note that Brecht named the characters in the lower class while he used common names such as “recruiting officer,” “general,” or “sergeant” for those characters in the capitalist class.

To grasp and appreciate the real message and the essence of the play, the audience ought to see the play as it is and not to just be absorbed by the story itself. Lisa Hansson states that the audience need to be “alienated from the play, and made perpetually aware of it as a play and nothing more. ” (par. 1) Brecht aimed to do this by intentionally distracting the audiences from the expected and “deliberately avoided theatrical techniques that would make appearances realistic. In this way, people were forced to confront the issues at hand and decipher the meanings behind what they were being shown.

(par. 1)” Works Cited Hansson, Lisa Cirelle. “GradeSaver: Mother Courage and Her Children Essay: The Obvious in Brecht. ” www. gradesaver. com. 18 November 2008. GradeSaver. 18 November 2008 <http://www. gradesaver. com/classicnotes/titles/mothercourage/essay1. html>. William, Robert. “GradeSaver: Mother Courage and Her Children – Study Guide – Short Summary. ” www. gradesaver. com. 17 November 2008. GradeSaver. 17 November 2008 <http://www. gradesaver. com/classicnotes/titles/mothercourage/shortsumm. html>.

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