Mother Courage and Her Children

How does Mother Courage's crass commerciality find expression in the play??


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Brecht was a lifelong socialist. After the First World War, the idea began to become more popular that war was often associated with financial gain. From this point of view, Brecht's purpose in writing the play was to show that in wartime "you need a big pair of scissors in order to get your cut." War, as the play portrays it, is itself a capitalist system designed to make profit for just a few players, and it is perpetuated for that purpose.

Therefore, despite the fact that she is constantly trying to make profit from it, Mother Courage is destined to lose by trading during the war; only the fat cats at the top of the system have a real chance of profiting from it. People in this play are always looking to get their cut, large or small, and it is no accident that the original text repeats the verb kriegen, to "wage"--that is, to wage war (Krieg), but also meaning to "get" or "acquire."

Key scenes to analyze in writing about this theme: Scenes 1, 3, and 7.