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Mother Courage and Her Children

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B.A. PROG 3rd YEAR SEM 5th




Is the title of Brecht's play mother courage apt than simply mother courage?

The play ‘’mother courage and her children’’ is an anti-war play. Unlike other plays it doesn’t limit itself to the people who are victims of it instead expands its reach and depicts how war affects lives of those who try to profit out of it and ultimately fall prey to war and ends us being victimised. This play reflects Brecht’s ideas about politics, humanity and war. The play reveals war not as business but as catastrophe.

‘’when war gives you all you earn

One day it may claim something in return’’

The play revolves around a real family story that is her immediate family of three children Eilif, swiss cheese and Kattrin and a family she gathers around her as she goes following the soldiers.

Anna Fierling or mother courage is the hero of this play though not a happy go lucky hero she is untragic hero of this play she follows the war like a parasite and to earn a living she follows army of thirty years of war. However, to earn money off the war in her efforts to make profit out of war her children become victims of the war.

The title ‘mother courage and her children’ itself clears that the story revolves around mother courage that is Anna Fierling and her children. The title mother courage as she told the sergeant and the recruiting officer was given to her as she broke through the blockade at Riga, a Latvian city under attack by the Catholics, to sell bread to the starving inhabitants. she said she did it because she was broke, not because of any heroic impulses. And the mother was prefixed because she is a mother of three children. Though courage here is not depiction of bravery in battlegrounds, here it is courage that poor people need to survive and in the entire play mother courage is seen sacrificing for survival.

The title ‘mother courage’ could have been a nice one as the entire story revolves around this not so motherly figure still called mother courage and her business as a canteen woman and her children play secondary role, and exits one after the other on the other hand mother courage’s wagon and war are the only constants in the play. No matter what the circumstance the canteen wagon goes on and eventually after all her children dies due to war we expected it to stop and for mother courage to understand that war has never done good to anyone but she was seen pulling the wagon alone. Courage according to her is fight for survival and she is seen courageous in that sense.

‘’I hope I can pull the wagon by myself.

Yes, I'll manage, there's not much in it now.

 I must get back into business.’’

No matter how great the title ‘mother courage ‘might sound without her children it is incomplete. According to me ‘mother courage and her children ‘is most appropriate title for this play. Though they play secondary roles but they are extremely important for the play. Brecht through children depicted that virtues are of no use during wartime.  Mother Courage's three children each represent different virtues (Swiss Cheese is honesty, Eilif is boldness, and Kattrin is sacrifice). Though over a period of time mother courage is seen rejecting each virtue.

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