Themes

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 202

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One of the themes revealed in The Caucasian Chalk Circle by Bertolt Brecht is war. In the play, a political uprising occurs, which sees the governor being killed. Furthermore, the war results in the governor’s wife losing her child to Grusha, the house help. Because of the war, Grusha flees the city with the child.

Another theme that is revealed in the play is motherhood. The question of motherhood comes into play when Natella, the governor’s wife, looks for her child. Despite her being the biological mother, the judge decides that Grusha should keep the child because she is the "real" mother. The author reveals that motherhood involves raising a child in addition to bringing it into the world.

The theme of greed is also revealed in the novel. Natella wants to have a share of her late husband’s estate. The only reason that she looks for her child is that the latter is the legitimate heir to the estate. She takes Grusha to court and fights for her child’s custody for all the wrong reasons. However, the judge realizes that Natella does not care for the child: she only wants to inherit the late governor’s money.

Themes and Meanings

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Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 239

The Caucasian Chalk Circle is a political play about the complexities of making decisions, the precarious validity of the law, and humans’ behavior toward their fellows. Bertolt Brecht has the singer sum up the meaning of the ancient song:

What there is shall belong to those who are good for it, thusThe children to the maternal, that they thrive;The carriages to the good drivers, that they are driven well;And the valley to the waterers, that it shall bear fruit.

The theme of justice frequently occurs in Brecht’s plays. The two sources Brecht used as a model for the depiction of justice were Li Xingfu’s thirteenth century play Hui-law ji (the chalk circle) and the judgment of Solomon (I Kings 3:16-28). Both sources deal with legal disputes over the fate of a child. In both cases, the wise judge awards the child to its real mother. Departing from these models, the playwright has his judge award the child to the woman who cared for him rather than to the real mother, who deserted him when her own life was in danger.

In Azdak Brecht created a complicated character, full of contradictions. Although he practices law in a selfish and amoral manner, the outcome is advantageous for the poor. Azdak is depicted as a disappointed revolutionary who, in Brecht’s words, “adopts the role of a scoundrelly rogue much as the wise men in Shakespeare play fools.”

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