Portland State University. Department of World Languages and Literatures
Term of Graduation
Date of Publication
Master of Arts (M.A.) in German
World Languages and Literatures
Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) -- Criticism and interpretation
1 online resource (104 pages)
Brecht's concept of character and its influence on the content and style of his works
Brecht's concept of character, based on the Marxist-socialist premise of the perfectibility of man, is one of the most important aspects of his work. He believes that man's character is comparable to an atom, constantly falling apart and re-assembling itself. He states that man should be defined by his contradictory actions.
With this view of man, several assumptions of the traditional theater no longer hold. There is no stalwart hero to pit the strength of his character against fate, there is no moral code by which he could act, since all is seen as being in flux and ethics are decided upon according to the demands of each specific situation.
Since the heart of tragedy usually is the struggle of a heroic figure against fate, and since Brecht's figures are changeable and no longer heroic, the premises of tragedy no longer exist. Furthermore, the hero's character can no longer serve to advance the action of the play. The environment has to serve now as a stimulus for its progress.
Although Brecht believes in the eventual advent of a "golden age," he presents his figures as being engaged in a daily struggle, winning, losing and compromising.
Such figures no longer can be shown by traditional acting methods Brecht invented the "epic" way of acting to accommodate them. New methods of observation and expression are the result of these new "heroes." Thus, Brecht's concept of character serves to convey his idea of man's existential possibilities, but also causes stylistic changes in his work.
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DeWolfe, Brigitte, "Aspekte des Charakterbegriffs im Werk von Bertolt Brecht" (1978). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 2868.