The Caucasian Chalk Circle by Bertolt Brecht Paper

This essay has a total of 860 words and 4 pages.

The Caucasian Chalk Circle by Bertolt Brecht


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 justice under exceptional circumstances. Azdak as the judge and arbiter of
justice has come to this position only through a matter of chances and mistakes. Firstly
he harbours the Grand Duke from Shauva, then he confesses to the Ironshirts only to be
made judge because the Duke escaped. Then through shear chance just before his execution
the Duke redeems him and makes him judge, finally making him the arbiter of justice
between Natasha Abashvilli and Grusha. This shows that the poor class can only get justice
under a system of whims and extraordinary circumstances and that

justice is intrinsically linked to a series of chances and not linked to the law as it
should be in a feudal regime. Azdak finally decides in Grusha's favour on the spur of the
moment, the chalk circle is a real test, and it is through this test that Azdak decides
the child's fate. In order to entertain the audience, Brecht sought to keep the verdict in
flux, keeping the audience in suspense as to the final outcome.

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