Bertolt Brecht's Caucasian Chalk Circle - Role of Minor Characters Essay

Bertolt Brecht's Caucasian Chalk Circle - Role of Minor Characters Essay

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The minor characters of a play are integral in conveying the major thematic concerns of the playwright. Such a theory can be blatantly exemplified throughout Bertolt Brecht’s acclaimed play the Caucasian Chalk Circle in which the minor characters have been constructed to help the reader understand the thematic issues expressed. Published in 1944, the Caucasian Chalk Circle is a clever appraisal of class based societies and has been carefully written to depict the disparity that exists between the upper classes and the proletariat. The minor characters of the play create a highly class based context for the narrative to occur within and ultimately through the resolution of the play the audience is positioned to interrogate the rigid social structure that is dominated by characters such as the Elder and Younger ladies and condemn those who aspire to be accepted by such a society, Lavrenti and his wife. This text, through the character of Michael, instead promotes equality in society, a social conscience that suggests we should consider the prosperity and happiness of all, not a privileged few.

Throughout the play, Brecht utilizes Epic theatre’s primary innovation, the Verfremdungseffekt (or distancing effect) to encourage the audience to view the performance intellectually rather than emotionally. This persuades the audience to side with the characters on an objective level and to view the story in a “universal” sense in which the moral of the story is more important than the actual events. To help convey his concerns Brecht avoids constructing characters that will invite an emotional response from the audience, rather, he creates minor characters in the text as archetypes or representations of certain classes within Feudal socie...


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...rcle in an attempt to encourage viewers to reassess the capitalist society we live in. The diverse class system inherent in such a society is negatively represented in the play through minor characters such as Natella Abashvill. Through the minor characters Brecht is able to encourage the audience to promote a form of equality between different classes. Brecht, as a Marxist, believed there should not be different levels of well being depending on what class you belonged to. In an effort to highlight this idea Brecht uses characters such as the Elder and Younger ladies to clearly outline the how individuals were treated by the upper classes according to where they fitted in the class divide. Ultimately, through Brecht’s careful construction he is able to proffer a fierce indictment of the capitalist way and encourage the audience to consider his own Marxist opinions.

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