The Good Woman of Sezuan

An analysis of the style and function of the songs and heightened lyrical passages in Brecht’s Der gute Mensch von Sezuan (The Good Woman of Sezuan).

This paper shows how the key to understanding Brecht’s “Der gute Mensch von Sezuan” and its place in the development of Epic Theatre is to understand the way in which he uses songs and poetic language throughout the action of the play essay writer cheap. At certain significant moments, the actors break into song, or speak in blank verse, a style vastly different from their characteristic mode of expression. The essay’s discussion of these moments, and explanation of their function within Brecht’s dramatic theory, will enable the reader to fully understand the play and its importance. The essay concentrates fully on the text of the work rather than reworking critical literature on the subject.
“As well as the five songs, on around twenty-five occasions the play is “interrupted” by excerpts of free verse, lacking rhyme and meter but distinct in style and vocabulary from the character’s normal speech. These interludes form a framework of comment and reflection embracing the action of the play and are usually directed to the audience rather than to the other characters. This commentary intertwined with the action of the play force the audience to consider it immediately whilst still under the direct influence of the playwright instead of reflecting on it later and at a distance. The characters are more perceptive in this altered mood and provide the audience with insight into their behavior, and for this reason as well as because the action of the play is interrupted, the songs and heightened lyrical passages are also an important part of Brecht’s Verfremdungeffekt (estrangement effect). The fact that several of the characters break into song at different points in the play is an anti-naturalistic device and the elevated language is also clearly not spontaneous or believable dialogue. Some of the dialogue and songs also have a persuasive function, serving Brechts interests. Many of them could stand alone, indeed some did before Brecht appropriated them for his work, and are simple and memorable excerpts that the audience could take home from the theater.”

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