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Mother courage and her children Essay

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By Bertolt Brecht, and Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, are both studies in the political activities and the history and evolution of a society. These plays hold political views that have survived for centuries. In response to the statement made about Bertolt Brecht, Mother Courage and Her Children and Hamlet both make a statement on politics and war. Mother Courage and Her Children was a story of a woman and her children during the Thirty Years War.

Early on in the play, Mother Courage predicted that her children would meet their deaths due to the personality characteristics each had; Eilif would die for his bravery, Kattrin for her kindness, and Swiss Cheese for his honesty.

As the play progressed, Swiss Cheese did die because of his honesty and Kattrin for her kindness. Mother Courage’s downfall was that she sought to profit from the war to provide for her family, turning a blind eye to her children’s safety. The play ended with Mother Courage moving on with the regiment.

Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children has an intellectual anti-war message. War in every society is inevitable.

However, Brecht took a biased view on this social reality, proclaiming an anti-war message. This message is intellectual because Brecht kept the emotion to a minimum. For example, when Swiss Cheese was executed, the event played out off stage (Brecht 41-42; scene 3). This kept the audience focused on the message Brecht was trying to get across. Brecht’s anti-war message also revealed itself in one of the major themes of the play, war as business. Mother Courage profited from the war, but it cost her her children. Mother Courage was so intent on profiting from the war and providing for her family that her children fell by the wayside.

For example, Mother Courage does not pawn her wagon to pay for her son, Swiss Cheese’s, freedom from captivity. She was planning to do this, but when she realized that Swiss Cheese threw the cash box, the box she was planning to get the money from to buy her wagon back after she pawned it to save her son, into the river, she decided that she could not pawn her wagon. Swiss Cheese was then executed (Brecht 38-41; scene 3). Hamlet is the story of a ghost, Prince Hamlet, and a corrupt uncle. At the beginning of the play, Prince Hamlet sees the ghost of his father, the King of Denmark.

Hamlet then discovers that his uncle, Claudius, murdered his father in order to become king and marry Hamlet’s mother. The ghost orders Hamlet to seek revenge on Claudius. Hamlet first determines Claudius’s guilt, then seeks to destroy him. Claudius fears for his life, and plots to kill Hamlet. At the end of the play, Hamlet is cut with a poisoned sword and dies, but not before exacting revenge on Claudius for his father’s murder. Shakespeare’s Hamlet also has political ties. Politics provide the setting and characterization for the play. The political situation in the play is apparently unstable.

Claudius, Hamlet’s uncle and now King of Denmark, was a wicked politician under whose rule the state of Denmark was suffering. The deceased King Hamlet, Hamlet’s father, was a strong ruler, therefore the state was in good health. The presence of King Hamlet’s ghost was indicative that “something is rotten in the state of Denmark. ” (Shakespeare 1. 4, 100) Hamlet therefore spent the entire play seeking revenge on his uncle. Like in Mother Courage and Her Children , war played a role, but not in the same way. There was an internal war between the members of the royal family in Hamlet. Claudius wanted power, therefore he murdered King Hamlet.

This is an inevitable characteristic of human evolution, survival of the fittest. It is human nature to succeed in life. Like it was said in the statement about Bertolt Brecht, this characteristic of human nature is not susceptible to change. It is even seen today in corporate America; people scratch and claw their way to success, no matter who they have to hurt in the process. Such as Mother Courage profited monetarily from the Thirty Years War, Claudius profited politically from the murder of King Hamlet. At the beginning of the play, Claudius revels in his new position as King of Denmark.

He thanks his subjects for their support and denies Hamlet’s request to return to the university in Wittenberg (Shakespeare 1. 2). Claudius enjoyed being king until the end of the play when Hamlet avenged his father’s death. The quote about Bertolt Brecht that stated that theater is a political statement and that society is not susceptible to change because of history and evolution is alive and well in both William Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children. War, between both countries and states and family members, is inevitable due to human evolution.

Certain individuals profit from these types of wars, such as Mother Courage profiting from the Thirty Years War and Claudius profiting from the death of King Hamlet. War is inevitable, it is how one copes with war that makes the difference. ?

Brecht, Bertolt. Mother Courage and Her Children. New York: Arcade Publishing, 1941/1994. ? Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. In ed. Gerald Weales. The Viking Critical Library. New York: Penguin Books, 1949/1967. ? Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. In ed. Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine. The New Folger Library: Shakespeare. New York: Washington Square Press, 1603/1992.

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