The Life of Galileo

Topics: Truth, Galileo Galilei, Life of Galileo Pages: 5 (1530 words) Published: June 19, 2002
The Battle For Truth

Throughout the course of history, from era to era, mankind has been on a continuous attempt to perpetuate what they perceive as the truth; and in doing so, embark on a quest to find their true identity and place in life. One must realize that the common theme in all literature is the search for identity and belonging. Bertolt Brecht, author of "The Life of Galileo," effectively uses the developing character Galileo Galilei to portray a strong message; a message which five hundred years after the fact has still not been completely comprehended. Through Galileo's continuous battle with the Church in prevailing his work, Brecht is telling the readers that in any one man's attempt to propagate the truth, whether it be in terms of literature, discoveries or new technologies, there is always an opposing power to suppress this new found truth. In doing so, it is through such opposing power against the search for truth which suppress our ability to think. In a sincere attempt to eliminate the common generalization that "Science is the devil", Brecht uses Galileo's external struggles such as those with the church. The writer also uses his personal internal struggles as a basis for developing Galileo's character to inform readers of the common yet false misconception of Science and the truth.

In many instances throughout the course of this play, "The Life of Galileo", Brecht is found to use Galileo's struggles with the church and the public as one of the vital backbones of his message. It is quite apparent that Galileo is fighting a battle with the church throughout the play to further spread his findings to enlighten citizens about the scientific truth of the universe beyond fictitious traditional religious values. The church, which served the purpose of the the governments in Italy at that time (around 1600's), consists of the popes and the Italian Renaissance. Drawn from the nobility, the Italian Renaissance are ruthless politicians whose central goal is the expansion of their political power. In an understandable sense, Galileo's new findings and teachings pose a serious and susceptible threat to the government's (church's) scheme of expansion and power. The church fears the lack of strength in the people's belief in religion because the fundamental structure of religion is the people themselves. Galileo's theories in Science and his views on the Copernicus System and the Book of Discourses would advance and transform the society. Development and change are issues which the church fears due to the fact that advancement undermine the strength of the chruch when changes are brought to religion. The church's opinion and attitude towards Galileo's discoveries are clearly outlined by Sagredo on Pg. 23 as he states:

"Do you think the Popes will hear your truth and say 'Wonderful, I'm wrong.' Do you think he'll even listen to you? ...When I saw you just now, at the telescope, looking at your new stars - I saw you standing on burning logs. When I heard you say 'I believe in reason' - I smelt burnt flesh." (Brecht 23) What Brecht is telling us through the use of Galileo and his stubborn and persistent need to present his findings, is that even though one is presented with adversities, in Galileo's case, the church, one must continue to use reason to spread the truth. In any case, Galileo believes that religion does not necessarily have to be sacrificed in order to advance a society in terms of technology. At this point in the play, he believes that the use of reason can overcome any obstacle in the attempt to prevail the truth; in a sense, what Brecht is telling the readers through Galileo's stance against the church is that the ability to think, innovate, and propagate the truth are the key requirments that will enhance our society. In this case, Galileo is faced time and time again with adversaries that tell him to stop what he is doing and to follow the Church's orders. On page...
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