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The failure of the protagonists to achieve their goals in Bertolt Brechts Mother Courage and Her Children and August Strindbergs Miss Julie.

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Introduction

The failure of the protagonists to achieve their goals in Bertolt Brecht's 'Mother Courage and Her Children' and August Strindberg's 'Miss Julie'. Ambition can define the intentions of a character in literature. In the texts 'Mother Courage and Her Children' and 'Miss Julie', ambition is the force that can make or break the protagonists- Mother Courage and Jean respectively. While the degree of desire in both characters is similar, their ambitions steer off along two separate tangents. While Mother Courage's ambition is to survive the war and use it to her advantage, in 'Miss Julie' Jean's ambition is to rise up in class and take advantage of Miss Julie by using her as a catalyst. The failure of the two protagonists in achieving their goals can be attributed to their personalities, their social status, as well as certain incidents in the plays. In the play 'Mother Courage and her Children', the protagonist Mother Courage is seen to be the cause of her own downfall. She, a "small time war profiteer"1, has simple goals; to survive the war with her children and her travelling rummage business, and to make the best of what was given to her. ...read more.

Middle

However, he realizes that being an aristocrat is far from his desires. He realizes that what he was aspiring towards "was not something worthier and more solid."12 Jean also eventually learns that Miss Julie cannot do anything for him- "Jean: You seem I could make you into a countess, but you could never make me a Count."13 Jean's character is moulded by his ambition. He manages to convince Miss Julie to enter his room without arousing suspicion of foul play by saying, "No. Into my room, then. We can't bother about conventions now. And you can trust me. I am your true, loyal and respectful-friend." Through his words, Jean shows his manipulative, deceptive and also his cunning nature. He finds no fault nor any guilt in lying to Miss Julie about his past dreams and desires of being with her- "Jean: The oat-bin? Oh that was just talk"14 On the other hand, Mother Courage's character is also overcome by her ambition. It causes her to undermine the role of her children in her life, as well as accept her losses. She is extremely loyal to her children, but her loyalty often shifts in the case of partners and her side in the war ...read more.

Conclusion

Both Mother Courage and Jean require a second party in their ventures. Mother Courage requires a man as is seen by the diversity of the fathers of her children whereas Jean required Miss Julie- "Jean: Oh, now and then a man has strength enough to hoist himself up in the world but how often does it happen?"19 It shows the flaws in their independent attitudes; though they carry a large ego and a flattering show of independency. Both the characters turn towards second parties to provide a platform for them to stand upon- in Jean's case, to move upwards from, in Mother Courage's case- to live stably. The two protagonists are caught in a vicious circle; one cannot leave the vicinities of his social order, while the other could not save her family, nor make a decent living from her sales during the war. Their seemingly selfish intentions attempted to be covered by noble deeds, shine through, thus leading to their downfall. Wealth and reputation comes above the death of a young woman, and similarly, wealth again comes in the view of three children's deaths. Both characters share a distinct and compassionate desire to succeed, but are pulled away from this success by a certain negative qualities which they possess. ...read more.

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