Mother Courage is an extremely vocal anti-war play. It is based on the 30-years war and draws on many comparisons from world war two, which was taking place when Brecht wrote Mother Courage. Brecht wished for the audience to engage with his work and the key themes and concepts on which his dramas were built upon. Brecht longed to remove emotion as the keystone which supported most people’s opinions. Instead, he wanted the audience to engage with his work on a critical and objective level where they could truly assess the effects and consequences of war. I agree with this. I feel that emotion can cloud or at least shape ones thoughts and perspectives and Brecht was correct in wanting to remove this from his audience.
Brecht also hoped to remove the drama from the time in which it takes place in. He hoped that this would aid the audience’s critical and unbiased thinking as they would not be bound to the horror of the Second World War. I do not think that Brecht was too successful in this as the horror and violence of the war was still freshly etched in the peoples mind when it took to the stage in East Germany in the 1940’s. Brecht does well to depict a more human side to war. In the opening scenes we see that Mother Courage is an opportunist who follows the Swedish army with her canteen wagon. She is making a living for her three children off the war. But this comes as a cost. The war in Poland eventually consumes all of Mother Courage sons who lose their lives in horrific circumstances. Brecht cleverly shows that innocent people on all sides of war are victims and are powerless to the effects of it. “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.” This quote shows how Mother Courage has lost all and is still determined to continue with her business which has lead to the death of her children.
I am unsure if this is Brecht showing that Mother Courage is greedy or that she is simply conditioned into the habit of her daily routine of running the wagon. I would be more inclined to go with the latter as I feel that it shows how war is dehumanizing. Emotion is also removed from the people effected by war. “No, there’s nothing we can do. Pray, poor thing, pray! There’s nothing we can do to stop this bloodshed, so even if you can’t talk, at least pray. He hears, if no one else does.” Brecht also shows how the higher ranking members of the army are corrupt. I feel that Brecht does well to show how war is a corrupt system fueled by greed where innocent lives are exchanged for profit and power.