Life of Galileo Galilei by Bertolt Brecht

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Play Analysis: Bertolt Brecht’s “Life of Galileo” Brecht’s work activates the senses and makes the audience slip into a trance of critical frenzy. He has taken the idea of Epic theatre to further dramatize his work and thereby portrays the characters in a realistic way so that it is up to the audience to form views about them. In this scene, the audience is exposed to a private talk between the Pope and the Cardinal Inquisitor, themes of public unrest and conflict within society between the two sides: science and theological tradition are brought into light. A sense of doubt has enveloped the public and the Pope and the Inquisitor are trying to expose these thoughts as false. While they are trying to accomplish this, a further theme of material interests and their importance comes into play. A sense of morbidity also arises at the end. However, through this passage Brecht is also trying to incorporate Marxist views, he is doing this in a discrete and clever way, bringing forward the constant struggle between classes. This scene establishes a loss of faith that is slowly seeping into the minds of the civilians within the play. On page 91, the Pope notes how a “terrible restlessness has descended on the world” and how this restlessness has “transferred to the unmoving earth”, he then concludes this comment by stating that should “we base human society on doubt and no longer on faith?” this restlessness that he is commenting upon is the uneasiness and anxiety he feels, much like how the way people think about things is gradually changing, it is in turn affecting the power the church holds over the people as that too is slipping away from their grasps. Furthermore, the repetition of the word “restlessless” justifies the Popes anxiet... ... middle of paper ... ...siness amongst the audience. These lines also mark the end of the scene and thereby create an air of utmost discomfort and morbidity. All the themes above tell us as the audience the struggle the authorities go through to sustain social order. Brecht has brilliantly incorporated his Marxist views into the play and in this scene he has shown the perspective of the “ruling class” that is the Church. Additionally, by exhibiting the sides of those who want to debunk the teachings of the church and those who still believe strongly in theological tradition, he has been able to trigger the active perceptions of the audience as they are to form their own views. This scene thereby, makes the audience aware of the ever present struggle between the two sides and furthermore enhances the viewer’s experience as it allows them to question and criticize every aspect of the scene.

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