Life Of Galileo Galilei By Bertolt Brecht

2687 words - 11 pages


Farhat Wahid - 1315156
Play Analysis: Bertolt Brecht’s “Life of Galileo”
Brecht’s work activates the senses and makes the audience slip into a trance of critical frenzy. He has taken the idea of Epic theatre to further dramatize his work and thereby portrays the characters in a realistic way so that it is up to the audience to form views about them. In this scene, the audience is exposed to a private talk between the Pope and the Cardinal Inquisitor, themes of public unrest and conflict within society between the two sides: science and theological tradition are brought into light. A sense of doubt has enveloped the public and the Pope and the Inquisitor are trying to expose these ...view middle of the document...

The Pope also cleverly relates how a restless mind, that is a mind that can no longer stay calm and still, a mind that is continuously questioning and is viewing everything in a critical manner is also metaphorically causing the earth to shift, I use the word metaphorically here as the Pope does not believe that the earth move. He further deliberates upon how this sort of thinking has stemmed from doubt, he openly questions the lack of faith the people display. This lack of faith then links back to the fact that the power the Church held over the people is slowly deteriorating and has thereby left the Pope in a state of discomfort. In scene 12, we also continuously see the Pope comment upon the people outside. He is agitated by the sound and always responds to it in a manner that projects nervousness. An example of this is on page 93 when he proclaims, “this shuffling is getting on my nerves” this statement clearly shows the audience that the Pope is experiencing great unease. In Brecht’s play the audience is aware that it should not take anything for granted and that everything happens for a reason. They are always critically aware, thereby, the negative emotions the Pope shows towards the people the Inquisitor refers to as the “best part” (page 94) of the entire world, clearly suggests that he is not comfortable and entirely sure of what he is about to say to them. He is aware that what he will say may have a lot of repercussions if communicated in even a slightly misaligned manner and will also affect a large part of the future. These people represent intellectual dominance and progress, they have come to him in a time of great doubt, however, the Pope has to cleverly halt their progressive thinking and restore social order. This way Marxist views are again incorporated in Brecht’s writing to explain the conditions.
Also, the stage directions at the beginning of Scene 12 state that “in the course of the audience he is robed” and towards the end of the scene the Pope “is now in full robes”. These stage directions are of extreme importance. As through them, Brecht has brilliantly exposed the transition a person goes through when put into a setting where they are required to project the views of an authoritarian figure. The Robes become symbolic of the confidence and change of character his persona undergoes once they are on. Previously, the Pope displayed a sense of simplicity and compassion. However, in his attire he is now posing as a powerful political leader and thereby the robes that he puts on slowly transform him into a figure that exudes authority. This way he is now stepping into his role as the ruling class and restorer of order.
It is important to understand that this passage makes the audience see both sides of the argument. That is, whether it is scientific evidence or religious scriptures that hold the ultimate truth. As the audience we are made aware through Brecht’s writing that the struggle between the two is constant and...

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