Saturday, June 29, 2013
The Caucasian Chalk Circle-Analysis
The Caucasian Chalk Circle opens on Easter Sunday, a time for the Resurrection of Christ. This is important because instead of a resurrection, there is an insurrection. The Governor will get killed by his brother. The fact that it is Easter Sunday is thus the first of the many religious themes present in the play. For example, the fact that the Fat Prince is the Governor's brother brings to mind the Biblical story of Cain and Abel. Brecht will continue to undermine religion throughout the play in both subtle and obvious ways; notice that the act of entering the church is juxtaposed with the image of the soldiers pushing the common people out of the way, thus undermining the religious aspects of going to church.
It is important to note that the Fat Prince greets his brother. This is so unusual the the Governor remarks on it, "But did you hear Brother Kazbeki wish me a happy Easter?" Soon thereafter the Fat Prince usurps power and takes over the city. The relationship between the brothers is thus foreshadowed by the Governor's comment, in which he expresses surprise at being greeted by his brother.
Another important moment is when Natella, the Governor's wife, tells her Adjutant how jealous of Michael she really is. She is desperate for attention from her husband. "But Georgi, of course, will only build for his little Michael. Never for me! Michael is all! All for Michael!" This jealousy of her child is important since she abandons him later in the Act.
Brecht's sarcasm towards religion is reintroduced when the Governor is led onstage in chains. The Singer remarks, "And now you don't need an architect, a carpenter will do." This alludes to the fact that Jesus was a carpenter; the Governor needs Jesus to intervene and save him on this Easter Sunday. This will of course not happen.
Throughout the play are dispersed the Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church. The first one appears when Simon and Grusha agree to become engaged. The engagement is sealed when Simon gives her his silver chain. This represents the act of Confirmation, and it is the first of the seven Catholic sacraments that will appear in the play. The others that will follow are Baptism, the Holy Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction (the Anointing of the Sick), Holy Orders, and Matrimony (not in that order). For information on the sacraments, see The Seven Sacraments.
Brecht has a tendency to make one character the "good" character. This character represents the type of person that we should all strive to be. However, because of the cruelty of the world, the "good" character is often abused or taken advantage of. Brecht's play, The Good Woman of Setzuan deals with this theme as its main topic. In The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Grusha represents this "good" character. She places value on human life unlike the other people who advise her to give up Michael. The Cook goes so far as to say, "if he had the plague he couldn't be more dangerous." She replies with, "He hasn't got the plague. He looks at me! He's human!" Brecht is quick to point out that this kindness is taken advantage of. The old woman comments, "You're a fool - the kind that always gets put upon."
The Act appears to end with Grusha's act of charity when she picks up Michael and takes him with her. Instead, Brecht points out to the audience that they should not be seduced by how good Grusha appears to be. In reality, she is a thief who has stolen a child. "As if it was stolen goods she picked it up. / As if she was a thief she crept away." Brecht destroys the audience's image of Grusha for a particular reason: he does not want the audience to be seduced by her the way she is seduced by the child. Instead, he wants the audience to use logic much the way logic is used in the prologue. The audience must decide for itself whether Grusha is a thief and should be punished or whether she is a hero who should be rewarded with keeping the child. This sets up a direct analogy to the valley in the prologue; Grusha represents the peasants on the left who wish to steal the valley and put it to better use.