How satire dominates Brecht’s book
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.