Life of Galileo By Bertolt Brecht: Analysis Of The Scene 12

Categories: Life of Galileo

Galileo Galilei was the man who used science and the telescope to prove to the church that the sun is the center of the universe instead of the Earth.

In Scene 12, we see the arrival of a new pope Barberini which is a plot twist to the drama that is occurring in the play. Since the former Pope is now out of frame, the audience is left in confusion and suspense as to how the new Pope reacts to Galileo’s ideas.

In the previous scenes, we learn that Galileo has been accused of selling “pamphlets against the Bible” all around the city. Due to these rumors the Pope would now want to see him which puts the audience along with Galileo in a stressed and uncomfortable atmosphere. Unexpectedly, the Pope defends Galileo saying he “is the greatest physicist of our time.” The audience is pleased but at the same time astonished because the Pope is supporting the facts but going against the church whereas, he is the head of church.

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Working against each other the Pope and the inquisitor are trying to manipulate each other in believing what they believe. The Pope tries to convince the inquisitor that Galileo might indeed be right however, he changes his mind realizing his position of authority. Thus, the Pope finally agrees with the inquisitor. The Audience is impressed by how the Pope stood for the truth yet still being loyal to the church and the people. He let Galileo “write his book on condition that he finished it by saying that the last word lay with faith, not science.

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” It was a brilliant idea to please both parties. In contrary, to the new Pope the inquisitor is similar to the old Pope is willing to go to any extend just to prove that the Church as an institution is right. We see this in Scene 8, when the inquisitor talks highly of Galileo with Virginia his daughter saying he is “a great man, one of the greatest” and furthermore when he learns the Virginia knows nothing about Galileo’s theories and instead follows the teachings of the church he confident that she will convince her father to step back. The church is threatened by Galileo therefore, they are willing to take risks.

Similarly, in Scene 12 we see the difference in tones when the Inquisitor speaks about Galileo in-front of the Pope versus Virginia. In this Scene he refers to Galileo as “this fellow” whereas in front of Virginia he praises him and gives him respect. The inquisitor mocks Galileo’s book by saying “His book shows a stupid man representing the view of Aristotle." This shows how eager the inquisitor is to gain the Pope’s support to prove Galileo wrong. The inquisitor who happens to represent the ideas and views of the church is concerned about Galileo’s point of view. If the common people paid more attention and understood Galilee’s theories they would eventually walk away from the belief of the work of God. Galileo being the brave soul that he is chose bring forward the truth about the facts of Astronomy which other scientists have been holding to themselves due to the fear of the Church. The truth can make a difference whether it is good or bad but that can change the way someone thinks. The only thing holding back the truth from being exposed is the fear of the consequences that comes with it.

In addition, Scene 12 shows the comparison between the old and the new Pope because the new Pope is more open minded towards Galileo’s theory whereas, the old Pope wanted to prove that without a doubt Galileo’s idea was wrong because of the fact that he didn’t have a position of power. The audience feels that in the eyes of the old Pope power justifies whether a person is right or wrong regardless, if in reality it is true or not. Since, Barberini- the new Pope is the leader of the Christians responsibility comes with it. He would have to make the right decision which would make the people’s faith strong. But, instead it is clear through the conversation between the inquisitor and the Pope that it is politicized. We also learn that Barberini has a different perspective about science than the church.

As the audience learns in Scene 7, Barberini confirms that he “once studied some astronomy.” Thus, the audience realizes his purpose of saving Galileo in scene 12. This gives the audience hope that this may help to change the traditional views and understanding of the church so they may approve of Galileo’s hypothesis just like they had approved of Aristotle’s. Science and Religion are two subjects that are oppose each other. Science is based on facts and religion is based on belief. And we see this in Scene 12, where the Pope is supporting the subject of Science whereas the inquisitor is encouraging the religious point of view of the topic.

Scene 12, prepares the audience for the clash between religion and science in other words the Church and Galileo. The audience experiences a rush of rising anxiety and suspense as to where this meeting will lead. The purpose for Brecht to put Scene 12 in the play is to show the different perspective of Galileo’s theory from the point of view of the church. In conclusion, the addition of this scene is to make the plot more developed and interesting. The audience is engaged in this plot because due to this scene now they know both sides of the argument and wonder what will happen when both the sides clash. The scene leaves the audience excited yet uneasy.

Updated: Feb 28, 2024
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Life of Galileo By Bertolt Brecht: Analysis Of The Scene 12. (2024, Feb 28). Retrieved from

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