Mother Courage and Her Children

The Obvious in Brecht

"When something seems the most obvious thing in the world, it means that any attempt to understand the world has been given up." How does Brecht attempt to ensure that the obvious is absent from this play?

Brecht's intentions when writing Mother Courage were to communicate his beliefs and make people aware of two major issues facing society: war and capitalism. According to Brecht, people deserve the wars they get if they subscribe to a political system which is unfair and favours a specific sector of society, namely capitalism, in which it is up to the individual to secure his own means of survival. In other words, if the system is unjust in any way, war and conflict is inevitable. For this to be understood, it would be essential that the audience sees the play for what it is, as opposed to becoming engaged in its story. This means that they would have to be alienated from the play, and made perpetually aware of it as a play and nothing more. To do this, Brecht jolted audiences out of their expectations 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.


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