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Discuss the role of Wang in Brecht's Der gute Mensch von Sezuan.

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Introduction

7. Discuss the role of Wang in Brecht's Der gute Mensch von Sezuan. Der gute Mensch von Sezuan is Brecht's most performed play, and, with its didactic and patent themes, strongly depicts his views about the structure of society and the fallibility of mankind. Every character has a role in portraying these beliefs through the play's somewhat perfunctory structure, and Wang is no exception. Wang's roles in both the arrangement of the scenes and in presenting the overall tone are fundamental to the play's completeness, and therefore it is necessary to consider Wang as a character in relation to the organisation of the theatrical performance as well as his function in representing Brecht's thoughts on humanity. Wang's fundamentality to the play becomes evident during the Vorspiel. He presents himself to the audience, thus promptly adopting a clear relationship with them and setting the scene for the entire play. Introducing himself by profession, 'Ich bin Wasserverk�ufer,' he proceeds to describe his life and hardships, before informing us that he has heard from a cattle buyer that some gods are soon to arrive whom he hopes will alleviate the poverty in Szechwan. His despair is evident through his anxious speech: Seit drei Tagen warte ich hier... ...besonders gegen Abend, damit ich sie als erster begr��en kann. He is eagerly waiting for the gods' arrival, and becomes worried that he will not recognise them. Consequently, instead of feeling complete empathy for Wang, the audience is immediately exposed to the rather overdramatic weakness of his character and so already Brecht's Verfremdungseffekt (V-Effekt) ...read more.

Middle

Vielleicht ist doch das Gelenk gebrochen. Ich laufe besser gleich zum Richter. Wang's esteem for and faith in authority proclaiming truth has consequently reduced. Despite realising how exploitative society is from the start, from seeing the weakness in the gods, he now has the confidence to exploit society for his personal gain. He questions the gods when they appear in a dream before Act Seven. Using a book about trees being felled in Sung to justify his argument, he clearly states his newly formed view about society, which evidently is also the main theme of the play: Der Schlechteste ist der Gl�cklichste Wang again tries to persuade the gods that Shen Te requires their help in order to remain 'ein gute Mensch.' He has realised that it is not particularly personality that produces evil, but that it is a product of the society in which he lives. He argues with the gods: Vielleicht ist sie [Shen Te] wirklich zu gut f�r diese Welt, Erleuchtete! However, the first god refuses to believe this pessimistic view of mankind: Unsinn! Du schwacher, elender Mensch! Die L�use und die Zweifel haben dich halb aufgefressen, scheint es. The gods tell Wang feebly that everything will work out, but the audience has already adopted Wang's belief and can clearly see the gods' incompetence. In the penultimate Zwischenspiel, Wang assumes a partisan-type figure, continuing to plead that the gods acknowledge the difficulty of life in Szechwan when evaluating Shen Te. He requires 'eine kleine Erleichterung des Ballens der Vorschriften, in Anbetracht der schlecten Zeiten. ...read more.

Conclusion

In this sense, Brecht promotes the Lacanian notion that conscious action is defined by the actual situation - truth can only be discovered through methodical analysis. Wang's mediation through the play, however, prevents the audience from seeing life in Szechwan as reality. Brecht wanted to provoke thought and analysis of society rather than pure acceptance and so used alienation techniques and epic theatre to advertise the artificiality of the play's situation: Eine Verfremdende Abbildung ist eine solche, die den Gegenstand zwar erkennen, ihn aber doch zugleich Fremd erscheinen l�sst.3 These techniques form a large part of Wang's role: from his paradoxical arguments with the gods in the Zwischenspiele to his narrative relationship with the audience through his wanting to establish the scene in the Vorspiel and his interrupted synopsis in the Final Act. Consequently, Wang has a major role not only in the play's structure and progression, but also in promoting and emphasising Brecht's ideology and despair with society. Brecht stated that his use of epic theatre was so: Der Zuschauer... ...sagt - Das h�tte ich nicht gedacht. So darf man es nicht machen!4 Wang's personality and position in Szechwan ensure that the audience recognises the ironies in capitalist society, and therefore contemplates its viability. 1 Giese, Peter Christian: Der gute Mensch von Sezuan. Aspekte einer Brecht'schen Kom�die. Aus: Knopf, Jan (Hrsg.): Brechts ,Guter Mensch von Sezuan'. Frankfurt am Main 1982. 2 Jendreiek, Helmut: Bertolt Brecht. Drama der Ver�nderung. D�sseldorf 1969. 3 + 4 Brecht, Bertolt: Gesammelte Werke, 16 Bde. Frankfurt am Main 1967. 1910 words including quotations 1 Daniel Thomas 04/11/03 B113 - Der gute Mensch von Sezuan, Bertolt Brecht ...read more.

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