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Importance and influence of the Gun and the Cart in Ariel Dorfmans Death and the Maiden and Bertolt Brechts Mother Courage respectively.

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Topic: - Importance and influence of the Gun and the Cart in Ariel Dorfman's "Death and the Maiden" and Bertolt Brecht's "Mother Courage" respectively. The Gun and the Cart both play key roles in their respective stories. Their importance lies in the fact that the authors are able to use them to convey many ideas to the readers which cannot always be expressed in words. These two objects support both Paulina (Death and the Maiden) and Mother Courage and influence the way both women behave in their respective environments as well. In "Death and the Maiden" Act 1, Scene 1 and 2, a very submissive Paulina is presented to the reader. A Paulina who is usually unhappy with the decisions made by Gerardo but has no real choice in these matters as her husband chooses for her and only asks for her consent as a formality. A clear example of this is in Scene 1 where Gerardo asks for her approval to accept the post offered to him by the president, Paulina tells Gerardo that she knows he has already made up his mind and has accepted the post (Paulina: "I don't see what you have to think over. You've already made your decision, Gerardo, you know you have"). Eventually she agrees saying that "It's the only yes I've got" while this makes it seem as if her opinion was truly considered the final ...read more.


While she does talk about people who had been denied justice like her, the emphasis is always on the word 'me'. The fact that it is a gun that she uses, a weapon that only protects her and harms others shows the reader that she wanted her justice no matter what the cost was to anyone else. In "Mother Courage", the cart is a clear symbol of survival. It is Mother Courage's only means of enduring the war and supporting her children. Similar to Paulina in "Death and the Maiden", Mother Courage too is a woman all alone in a world controlled by men (a fact that all the powerful posts in the army such as 'general' belong to men). However unlike Paulina, Mother Courage is very well versed with business and this shows us that she has been living like this for a very long time. We can see this from Scene 1 where she bites the half-florin and says she's "got no faith in any kind of money" showing that she has traveled far and wide and has vast experience in business matters. Another example of this is in Scene 2 when she haggles effectively with the cook over the price of a hen. Mother Courage may seem very business minded with her cart being the only reason to live being her cart; however the reality of the situation is that the cart is just a means of earning money to take care of her children. ...read more.


The cart is symbolizes the prosperity and capitalism which democracy is supposed to bring. However, the gun and the cart seem very out of place in their respective environments. While it is obvious that the authors had not planned both stories together we still see a common thread of thought in the writing of both authors, in one case the gun shows a shadow of the past, the presence of the oppressive dictatorship is still looming over while in "Mother Courage" the cart shows the future, the war will one day end and normal life will return. While the ideas seem very contrasting in nature, the common factor is that they both show the reader that nothing is truly perfect or complete; there is no continuity in any form of system, The very fact that it is so difficult shows us that this idea could never be conveyed to the reader through sheer words, the image of the gun and the cart instead paint this picture in our minds. While very different, both the gun and the cart play very similar roles in each story. Their importance to the leading characters is unquestionable and the many ideas they reveal, while different, show the reader the same thing. Hence, it must be said that these items form an integral part of their respective stories. Word Count: - 1376 ...read more.

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