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Mother Courage and Her Children - Bertolt Brecht

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"Mother Courage and Her Children" - Bertolt Brecht - Plot. "Mother Courage" is a play about a canteen woman who sells goods during the Thirty Years War (1613-48). She lives off of the war, but does not wish for her children to have anything to do with it. Her three children, Eilif, Swiss Cheese and Kattrin are fated to death during the first scene. Scene one - Mother Courage is trying to put Eilif off of his temptations to join the army by pulling out black crosses signifying death for a soldier, she draws out a cross for each of her children too. This scene is in 1624, Sweden, during a truce in the Swedish- Polish war. The climax to the scene is when Eilif goes off with the soldiers, whilst Mother Courage is distracted. This scene emphasises the beginning of Courage's new business, the new war and the prospect of new times. This scene has a sense of irony as Courage is only trying to put Eilif off of the army, but she in fact predicts his future, as well as that of her other children. All her fears for her children are actually justified. Scene two- Starts with Mother Courage arguing with the cook over an over-priced capon outside of the General's tent. ...read more.


Courage sings the "Song of the Great Capitulation" to get a soldier, who was intending to complain about misfortunes to him, to realise that letting of steam in front of your superiors is pointless, and the soldier abandons his cause. This leads her to realise that her complaint isn't worth much, so abandons her complaint too. Here, Courage is shown to hide her emotions for example anger, rebellion or disapproval to save her business. She will abide by following capitulation, as she thinks it will benefit her. Scene five- Three years later. War has spread. Mother Courage's wagon has travelled a lot and is now in Bavaria. She is in Saxony in a devastated village near Leipzig. The Chaplain rescues a peasant family and needs bandages to help save their lives. Mother Courage refuses to let him take her "officer's shirts" for this cause. This shows Courage letting her human emotions get the better of her, and for them to rule her business values. The Chaplain moves Mother Courage by force out of the way of her cart and takes the shirts and begins to rip them. The noise of a baby still inside a burning house is heard and Kattrin runs in and rescues the baby. This is the first recognition of Kattrin's pity and soft spot for children in particular. ...read more.


The cook emerges to find them gone and his clothes left. Scene ten - 1634. Courage and Kattrin stop from pulling the cart outside a peasant home from which the "Song of Home" on the theme of comfort and security can be heard. Scene eleven- 1636 in Saxony. At a farmhouse outside Halle, that is held by Swedish troops, Imperial troops force a farmers son to lead them into the sleeping town below them. With much reluctance and after the convincing threat of killing the farmer's cattle, the boy agrees. The peasants talk and pray for those asleep in the town, especially their brother-in-law and his four children. Kattrin hears this and climbs on to the roof with a drum to wake the sleeping town. Her pity for the children leads to her death as the soldiers return and try to stop her, but she adamantly drums on, so they shoot her. As she dies the warning bells ring out in town and gunshots are heard. Her death, differing from her brothers' deaths, has not been futile. Scene twelve - Same day. Courage returns and cannot cope with Kattrin's death. She sings her a lullaby. She pays the peasants to bury Kattrin. Courage moves on, still thinking Eilif is alive, hauling the cart on her own. The irony of this is that Courage started the play four strong, and the play ends with unresolved problems, with Courage alone. Sarah Moore 12J ...read more.

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