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Inequity: The Struggle To Be A Mother In A Capitalistic Society

1254 words - 5 pages

Inequity: The Struggle To Be A Mother In A Capitalistic Society
It would be unfair to judge Mother Courage based on a surface level glimpse of her actions; for though she repeatedly chooses her business over her children, it is only to survive in the capitalistic and war-impoverished society that they live in. Entangled in the dialectical relationship of being both a mother and a capitalist, Courage struggles to find a way to ensure the survival and well being of her children. Rorrison makes an excellent point in his statement, “Brecht intended her to be an object lesson in misplaced energy”; he is, of course, referring to her habit of choosing her business over her family. By including such situations where the limited options grow ever slimmer and the probability of a zero sum game rages on, the play demonstrates that though her actions and behaviors could have been different, the outcome for Mother Courage and her family would have been the same; it does this in order to both prove that capitalism is antithetical to human relationships as it only benefits the ones in charge and to also call for government reform.
Right from the start, it becomes apparent that Mother Courage faces unfavorable choices; when a sergeant and recruiting officer question the origin of her name, she explains, “They call me Mother Courage ‘cause I was afraid I’d be ruined so I drove through the bombardment of Riga like a madwoman, with fifty loaves of bread in my cart. They were going moldy, what else could I do?” (1.25) This last sentence is extremely significant because it pinpoints Mother Courage’s resilience to make capitalism work for her. Though she endangers her children by having them go along with her, she knows that it won’t only be her who is ruined, it will be her children, as well. As the play progresses deeper into the plot, more tragic examples of this dialectical relationship come into motion - how Courage loses Eilif while she is “closing a deal”, Swiss Cheese due to her incessant bargaining, and ultimately the moral and compassionate Kattrin. Even then, by taking a more in-depth analysis of her actions, it is important to note that she is not solely responsible for all of the misfortunes that occur; most prominently, in the case of Swiss Cheese, she does not refuse to pay the full price for the sake of being cheap. Rather, she is aware that whether she pays the full two hundred or even the lower bargained price, her family will be left with nothing. When talking to Yvette, she remarks, “ I must hold on to something, or any passer-by can kick me in the ditch.” (3.63) The impossible choice is clearly thrown out in this scene: either indirectly kill her son or doom them all to a worse fate. This play does a tremendous job in pointing out the terrible and deprived society they live in - how a mother is continuously forced to choose between long-time survival and her children, with each choice becoming increasingly impossible. Taking this into...

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