Quest for Identity in The Life of Galileo by Brecht

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Quest for Identity in The Life of Galileo by Brecht

Throughout the course of history, from era to era, mankind has been on a continuous attempt to perpetuate what they perceive as the truth; and in doing so, embark on a quest to find their true identity and place in life. One must realize that the common theme in all literature is the search for identity and belonging. Bertolt Brecht, author of "The Life of Galileo," effectively uses the developing character Galileo Galilei to portray a strong message; a message which five hundred years after the fact has still not been completely comprehended. Through Galileo's continuous battle with the Church in prevailing his work, Brecht is telling the readers that in any one man's attempt to propagate the truth, whether it be in terms of literature, discoveries or new technologies, there is always an opposing power to suppress this new found truth. In doing so, it is through such opposing power against the search for truth which suppress our ability to think. In a sincere attempt to eliminate the common generalization that "Science is the devil", Brecht uses Galileo's external struggles such as those with the church. The writer also uses his personal internal struggles as a basis for developing Galileo's character to inform readers of the common yet false misconception of Science and the truth.

In many instances throughout the course of this play, "The Life of Galileo", Brecht is found to use Galileo's struggles with the church and the public as one of the vital backbones of his message. It is quite apparent that Galileo is fighting a battle with the church throughout the play to further spread his findings to enlighten citizens about the scientific truth of the universe beyond ficticious traditional religious values. The church, which served the purpose of the the governments in Italy at that time (around 1600's), consists of the popes and the Italian Renaissance. Drawn from the nobility, the Italian Renaissance are ruthless politicians whose central goal is the expansion of their political power. In an understandable sense, Galileo's new findings and teachings pose a serious and susceptible threat to the government's (church's) scheme of expansion and power. The church fears the lack of strength in the people's belief in religion because the fundamental structure of religion is the people themselves. ...

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...t science is not merely a group of 'inventive dwarfs'. Instead, science is a way of life. The book of discourses (dealing with the laws of motion), that was published after Galileo's recantation, represents a way in which Galileo can contemplate for his unethical and immoral acts by generating knowledge to the public. Although Galileo reassures the making of science by making the book of discourses, nothing can ever bring compensation to the harm which he brought on humanity and the way in which he destroyed the meaning of sacrifice.

Through Galileo's quest for identity, Brecht is once again sending us a strong

message; to think that even a character as strong and sure as Galileo can be altered and

changed for the worst, really leaves the readers pondering on one thought; in the journey

of prevailing the truth, there will always be an opposing structure that will pose an

adversary. One must learn from Galileo's life that sacrifice in the way of progression of

a society should be recognized and encouraged; Galileo might have failed to show the

meaning of sacrifice, but he taught us to think, take risks and understand the true significance of science.
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