The Caucasian Chalk Circle by Bertolt Brecht

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The Caucasian Chalk Circle by Brecht uses epic theatre to bring forth an idea or meaning for the audience to consider while entertaining the audience. Epic theatre involves the use of alienation techniques to distance the viewer from the story but still concentrate on the overall meaning. The person who just views the story would likely take it as fantasy and not reach the true depth of the play. Brecht shocks the viewer by making the events and actions in the play "strange and abstract" this contrasts with dramatic plays where the audience sympathises and relates to the characters of the play. The theme throughout the play is natural justice versus class justice.

The title has links to other parables and stories before it. The Chalk Circle, a Chinese play involved a legal action where the false claimant was granted custody due a bribe to claim her dead husbands estate. This however was overturned by the emperor, the guarantor of the law, in a retrial as the emperor was the father. This particular story is a whisper to the result of Grusha's trial. The emperor is portrayed as the epitome of justice and gives a true verdict. The trial scene is also adapted from the parable of King Solomon. Solomon the paragon of justice and truth oversees the trial of two mothers, one child is dead the other alive, they seek custody of the alive child. The king asks the child to be cut in half, the real mother relinquishes her claim and thus gains custody of her rightful child. In these two whispers the law is shown to be equated with justice, however Brecht seeks to highlight that within Grusinia this is not the case and it takes a greedy Azdak who despises the upper classes to give a just verdict.

The class justice presented in the novel has close links to the Marxist view of the law, with the law serving all, but in reality it protects and secures the interests of the ruling classes. The play seeks to emphasise that within this class justice the poor can only gain...
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