Courage Mother and her Children critique

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24 April 2016

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“Mother Courage and Her Children” by Bertolt Brecht took place during the 30 Years’ War in Europe. The whole play revolved around the survival of a lower class family, trying to live through the harsh war with their canteen wagon business. Each scene in the play contained the factors of religious, honesty, war, loyalty, and family.

The theme of “Mother Courage and Her Children” was maternity, due to the fact that Mother Courage’s sense of coldhearted business caused her become unable to protect her children, which led to their deaths, leaving her all alone in the end. Mother Courage was always doing business while each of her children died during the play. This shows that she was more interested in her business and money than her own children, and an example of this can be seen when her thirst for money had caused Swiss to die because she took too long to decide whether or not to trade her money in for her son’s life.

Mother Courage was the protagonist in the play, while the war was the antagonist. The war caused Mother Courage to base her living on it. Due to the fact that they were living during a war, this caused Mother Courage to be so focused on making money, that she ended up neglecting her children. It also caused her to be unable to watch her daughter get married, since Kattrin could only get married when peace returned and the war ended. War is also the antagonist, due to the fact that is also caused Mother Courage to lose her sons as well. The play was a tragedy because in it, Mother Courage’s children all perished, and she was left all alone in the end.

In the play, Bretch assigned each of Mother Courage’s children with a “tragic flaw” as a result of her failure to learn to choose family over business. The tragedies that Mother Courage’s children suffered throughout the play were Swiss, with honesty, Eilif, with arrogance, and Kattrin, with pity. Mother Courage had to go through suffering of the death of each of her children one by one and was unable to do anything about it. The set of the play was a major contribution to the play. The use of a proscenium stage was the best fit for this type of play since it allowed the audiences to focus on the center of the stage where Mother Courage’s wagon was. Mother Courage’s family always moved around.

However, their wagon was still placed at nearly the same spot on the stage, which tells the audience that they were not moving anywhere because no matter where they moved to, they still faced the same struggles and hardships. Even though the setting mostly remained the same from scene to scene, backgrounds changed from one scene to another, which allowed the audience to know that the scene was taking place in a different location. There was almost always the same lighting throughout the whole play. The only thing that changed about the lights was the brightness; the lights were brighter during the day and dimmer at night. There were some spotlights. However, it only appeared upon the actors who came before each scene, in order to tell the audience what will happen in the upcoming scene.

The lighting of “Mother Courage Mother and Her Children,” was different from the other play that I went to. Usually lights would go off when changing from one scene to another, so that characters were able to get on and off stage, in order to prepare the set for the scene. However, in this play, the lights were still on during scene transitions. Bretch made pulling the wagon in and out of the stage as an exit and enter for each scene, which didn’t require the actors to quickly change settings for different scenes. The background sound of gunshots and bombs that were playing throughout the play allowed the audience to feel as if the war was actually taking place during the play. The gunshots sounded very loud, making the audience feel as if it was nearby. Without the sounds, the audience would not have been able to feel the mood of the war. Sounds of gunshots added more effects to the mood of war, giving the audience an the image of how deadly the war was.

The play was a musical play, since there were many parts where Mother Courage and some singers in the background sang and played instruments. The entrance to the play was also a song that expressed the mood and feeling of the war. Mother courage sang in almost every scene, to express her feelings. She also sang in the last part of the play when Kattrin died. The costumes of the play reflected the life of the characters in the play. The costumes did not really tell the time period in which the play took place because the characters were just wearing normal types of rural clothes that had many layers, and were attached with many pieces of fabric. The characters in the play had the same outfit throughout the whole play, and this outfit not only showed their poverty, but also the condition of life during the war, due to the fact that they were unable to have clothes to change into.

The many layers of clothes worn were everything that the characters owned, and this showed their struggles, due to the fact that they are unable to buy any new clothes. Overall, the play was easy to understand because it was in modern English and there were no accent in the characters’ pronunciation, which allowed the audience to understand what the characters were saying. Mother Courage struggled throughout her life with her business and children, but ended up with nothing due to the war, in which she was favoring. The war had brought Mother Courage the business she needed, but took away her children one by one.

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StudyScroll. (2016). Courage Mother and her Children critique. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 9-Dec-2023]

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