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German Literature. Search this site. Navigation Home. Guide Books. Parallel Texts. Hall of Fame. Early Modern. Web Links. Brecht revised the play and shortened it in May whilst living in Santa Monica, California. The standard published edition is based on the longer text as premiered in February This play demonstrates that it is impossible to be good and to survive in a capitalist society.
The only way that Shen Te can maintain her new property is by changing into a ruthless factory owner. Shen Te changes radically throughout the play, in terms of her social, economic and sexual status. By the end of the play she has a double gender role, as a male businessman and as an expectant mother who plans to pay for the best childcare that money can buy.
He tries to market the gods to the people of Szechwan as a unique opportunity but no one wants to know. Finally he asks the prostitute Shen Te. She gives shelter to the three gods and they give her a thousand silver dollars. In Scene 1, Shen Te has bought a tobacco shop with the money but she is soon overwhelmed by demands: her previous landlords are now homeless, and ask her for shelter.
In Scene 2, Shui Ta arrives, bargains the carpenter down to twenty and gets rid of the eight-headed family by inviting the policeman into his shop just as the son has robbed a bakery. The policeman advises Shui Ta to marry his cousin off to someone rich.
In Scene 3, Shen Te saves the unemployed pilot Yang Sun from hanging himself and buys a glass of water from Wang the water-seller. Wang must choose between seeking medical aid or legal compensation. The old carpet-seller and his wife offer Shen Te a loan of silver dollars. In Scene 5, Yang Sun tells Shui Ta that the dollars are bribe money to persuade the hangar supervisor in Beijing to fire the current pilot.
Wang arrives with the policeman and Shui Ta tells Wang that Shen Te will not perjure herself for him. In Scene 7, Shu Fu gives Shen Te a blank cheque, Shen Te discovers that she is pregnant, Wang arrives with a homeless child and Shen Te vows to be a tiger to other people in order to save her own child.
She changes into Shui Ta. In Scene 8, Shui Ta has set up a tobacco factory. Yang Sun starts working there. He puts on a show of loyalty for the boss and is promoted to the position of overseer. In Scene 10, Shui Ta is tried in court. Shui Ta asks for the court to be emptied and he reveals to the three gods that he is Shen Te. Shen Te tells the gods that their commandments are fatal and that their world is unjust. The first god refuses to respond to this.
Sensing that he is cornered, he summons a pink cloud and the gods disappear. In the Epilogue , an actor addresses the audience and tells them that they will have to work out the conclusion for themselves. The three gods are presented as ridiculous, bumbling bureaucrats. Christopher McCullough calls them a parody of a deus ex machina McCullough, p. In the interlude between Scenes 3 and 4 the first god admits that he does not understand anything about business.
This means that the gods are useless: they understand nothing about the realities of life. However, the real target of the play is not faith or religion, but facile, hypocritical moralising. The central paradox of the play is that Shen Te and Shui Ta are totally different, and yet they are both the same person.
One persona gradually replaces another, and Shen Te is increasingly denied a voice. As the gods depart Shen Te tries unsuccessfully to negotiate a time share arrangement between her two identities, and it seems that she may well disappear once again. The play is not a study of individual psychology, it is a study of the dynamics of social behaviour.
Rather than seeing Shen Te and Shui Ta as two halves of a divided consciousness, it would be more accurate to regard them as two alternative modes of social action.
Der Gute Mensch Von Sezuan
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The play is an example of Brecht's " non-Aristotelian drama ", a dramatic form intended to be staged with the methods of epic theatre. The play is a parable set in the Chinese "city of Sichuan ". This title was a play on words, since the German term for "true love" Die wahre Liebe is pronounced the same way. The theme of qualitative " goodness " which seemed so simple and obvious in the title of the play is rendered unstable by application to both genders, as Shen Teh realizes she must operate under the guise of both in order to live a good life. Brecht's interest in historical materialism is evident in the play's definition of contemporary morality and altruism in social and economic terms. Shen Teh's altruism conflicts with Shui Ta's capitalist ethos of exploitation. The play implies that economic systems determine a society's morality.
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