Bertolt Brecht

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Can you analyze The Informer by Bertolt Brecht?

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There's lots to analyze in Bertolt Brecht's chilling one-act play The Informer. You can discuss how the play upends typical power dynamics. Karl and his wife are fearful of their maid and their own son. You could also write about how the worries of Karl and his wife connect to contemporary issues.

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There's so much to discuss in Bertolt Brecht's chilling one-act play The Informer, so we should not have trouble trying to write about it at length.

Let's start with how The Informer upends the normal child-parent dynamic. In a usual relationship, in a non-totalitarian society, we think it's safe to say that if anyone is scared of anyone, it's the child who’s fearful of their parents. It's the parent who typically has the capacity to discipline and punish the child.

Yet in Brecht's play, it's reversed. The parents are fearful of their child. He has the power to punish them by telling Nazi authorities about the criticisms his father has been making.

Of course, it's not just their child they’re fearful of, it's also their maid. "Must we have a maid whose father is Block Warden?" asks the husband. Though the maid is their employee, she could be said to have more power because of her father's role as the official Nazi supervisor for their neighborhood.

After you talk about how The Informer scrambles usual parent-child power dynamics, you might want to talk about how The Informer upsets the normal power balance between domestic workers and their employees.

If you want to analyze The Informer in a way that brings in what's happening today, you might want to compare the paranoia and the lack of privacy in the play with the kind of paranoia and lack of privacy that people experience today due to social media and technology.

There's been lots written on the totalitarian aspects of technology and social media. Think about how worried people get—and how much trouble they get in—when something they say on social media is supposedly misinterpreted. Does that not link to Karl's concerns?

Karl declares, "Within my own four walls, I can make whatever remarks I please." We know that this isn't true for him. But is it true for us? In our own homes, in our own personal spaces, are we able to say and do what we want without fear of it becoming public and/or tracked and recorded by a tech corporation?

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