The Good Person of Szechwan

by Bertolt Brecht
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Why do the gods come to the city of Szechwan in The Good Person of Szechwan?

The gods come to the city of Szechwan because they’ve heard lots of complaints and need to find good people.

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Bertolt Brecht’s play The Good Person of Szechwan begins with a man named Wang. Wang, who sells water, has spent the last three days by the entrance to the city. He wants to be the first person to greet the gods. According to Wang, the gods are dismayed by the number of complaints they’ve been hearing. They’ve come to Szechwan to see what’s going on.

When the gods arrive, Wang, as planned, greets them and acts as their helper. The gods need a place to stay for the night. Wang tries to locate lodgings for them. Finding someone in Szechwan to take in the gods is not an easy task. Multiple people shoo Wang away. The absence of hospitality and kindness hints at why the gods have been receiving so many complaints. Szechwan does not appear to be a place with lots of helpful, friendly citizens.

It’s not just Szechwan that is filled with people who aren’t too nice. In the other places that the god visited, good people were in short supply. With Wang away trying to figure out who in Szechwan will let the gods stay with them, the gods divulge more about their mission. They’ve come to Szechwan not just to investigate the grumblings but to see if there are good people here. If they discover enough good people, then the world can be allowed to go on as it is.

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