How satire dom­i­nates Brecht’s book

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - WEEKEND - BY JARED ANYIENI

The Cau­casian Chalk Cir­cle is a writ­ers’ en­deav­our to satirise the peo­ple and life in the Grusinian State. Ber­tolt Brecht brings to fore is­sues that be­devil this so­ci­ety.

He satirises the en­tire lead­er­ship in the Cau­casian city. The lead­ers are por­trayed as hell­bent on self-ag­gran­dis­e­ment. Gov­er­nor Ge­orge Abash­wili is rich while the peo­ple live in ab­ject poverty. They come to him, com­plain­ing of high taxes and cor­rup­tion. Yet he in­tends to de­mol­ish slums to ex­pand the East Wing and build a house for his son Michael, the heir.

Fur­ther­more, he also satirises the princes’ op­por­tunism. They mis­ap­pro­pri­ate funds meant for the war. Through Az­dak, they de­liver poor war equipment and never de­liver food­stuff, and the war is lost for Grusinia.

The play­wright also satirises lead­ers’ greed for power. Gov­er­nor Ge­orge Abashi­wili is top­pled by his brother, Prince Arsen Kazbeki. Such ego­cen­tric po­lit­i­cal crav­ing is the re­sult of po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity, which re­sult in coups and counter coups.

Moth­er­hood is also satirised. Natella, the Gov­er­nor’s wife, is shown as be­ing overly ma­te­ri­al­is­tic when war breaks out. When the palace is un­der siege, she is busy se­lect­ing her fine clothes. She ig­nores the se­cu­rity of her son and her own. Even­tu­ally, she is whisked away by the Ad­ju­tant, leav­ing her son in the field of war. When she ap­pears af­ter the war, she wants her son Michael back in or­der to gain ac­cess to the gov­er­nor’s wealth. It takes a foster mother to raise Michael. Not all bi­o­log­i­cal moth­ers are car­ing. Natella ul­ti­mately loses her bi­o­log­i­cal son to a car­ing and de­serv­ing mother Grusha.

The ju­di­cial sys­tem is also satirised. Judge Az­dak, who is not qual­i­fied to be a judge, re­ceives bribes be­fore han­dling cases. He al­lows the guilty to go free while the in­no­cent are charged.

Satire is also re­vealed in re­li­gion. Re­li­gious lead­ers, who are sup­posed to sym­bol­ise moral­ity, are shown as im­moral. The monk is seen in the tav­ern drink­ing. Lavrent’s wife, Aniko, claims that she is re­li­gious. Yet when Grusha ar­rives in the North­ern Moun­tain, she is in­sen­si­tive to her plight. She is clearly fam­ished and sickly. All she can do is bom­bard her with ques­tions re­gard­ing the le­git­i­macy of her child. Grusha is forced to marry the dy­ing man, Jus­sup, to le­git­imise Michael.

In­deed satire is one of the styles used in The Cau­casian Chalk Cir­cle to con­demn vices.

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