Mother Courage and Her Children

Brecht's reaction

After the 1941 performances in Switzerland, Brecht believed critics had misunderstood the play. While many sympathized with Courage, Brecht's goal was to show that Mother Courage was wrong for not understanding the circumstances she and her children were in. According to Hans Mayer, Brecht changed the play for the 1949 performances in East Berlin to make Courage less sympathetic to the audience.[16] However, according to Mayer, these alterations did not significantly change the audience's sympathy for Courage.[16] Katie Baker, author of a retrospective article about Mother Courage on its 75th anniversary, notes that "[Brecht's audiences] were missing the point of his Verfremdungseffekt, that breaking of the fourth wall which was supposed to make the masses think, not feel, in order to nudge them in a revolutionary direction." She also quotes Brecht as lamenting: "The (East Berliner) audiences of 1949 did not see Mother Courage's crimes, her participation, her desire to share in the profits of the war business; they saw only her failure, her sufferings."[17]


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