War in The Caucasian Chalk Circle

Effects of fighting and war in The Caucasian Chalk Circle


Brecht analyzes the causes, effects and alternatives to wars. The text features a total of four wars: the second world war, the war in Persia, the coup by the princes and the civil war that followed the peasants’ revolution.

There are various causes of wars in the texts including greed for wealth and power among leaders, lack of justice and exploitation of the masses in a society, and in some cases wars could lead to others. The war in Persia was caused by the Grand Duke’s and Princes’ greed for power and wealth. The princes had their own personal interests in the Persian war. Azdak reveals that they made huge profits from contracts to supply the army in Persia with food, ammunition and horses, some of which they never delivered. He says Princes won their war…. War only lost for Grusinia.” This shows that powerful individuals may be profiteering from wars around the word. The Princes later use the Grusinia’s looming defeat in Persia to overthrow the Grand Duke and his governors. Being affected the most by war in Persia and the coup in Grusinia, the poor stage a revolution leading to a two year civil war in Grusinia. This revolution, like the peasants revolution in persia that Azdak tells about, is motivated by too long a war and lack of justice. The Grand Duke is also reinstated through a war in which the fat prince is killed. These three are instances of war leading to another war.

The Caucasian Chalk Circle explores the effects of war in length. Fighting and war leads to deaths, injuries, displacement, loss of livelihoods and property. In the prologue, both the goat herders and the fruit farmers were displaced by the Nazis during the second world. This makes resettlement necessary. The dairy farm that initially belonged to the Collective Rosa Luxemburg farm was damaged leaving except for its foundation. In the play, Abashwili’s household and its servants are forced to flee to safety. The youth, especially young men, are the biggest casualty during wars. Because of their energy they are normally conscripted into the armies to go and fight. They end up with injuries, lost limbs or even they die in the course of the war. In the prologue, the young men are conspicuously missing from the meeting because they died during World War II.

It is the poor and innocent who suffer the most during wars. Even though the play implies that it is the greed of leaders that causes wars, the poor that suffer the most during wars. To begin with it is their taxes that fund the war. It is also the poor young men that make up the army and therefore they are the ones that die, suffer injuries and amputations during wars. Ironically, as the soldiers kill each other, the Marshalls, who are rich, salute each other. This is also illustrated when the Shah of Persia lends the Grand Duke an army to reinstate him showing that while to poor soldiers war is a life and death affair, it is just a game for their leaders. Among the beggars in Governor Abashwili’s court are those injured during wars and parents pleading for their only remaining son to be discharged from the army. The peasant woman with whom Grusha had left Michael told Grusha that her son was serving as an ironshirt in Persia. Jussup pretends to be sick for a long time in fear of being forcefully recruited into the army. The old woman accused by the farmers lost her two sons to the war in Persia. In addition to these, the poor are also subjected to harassment and brutality by armed forces. Even though Abashwili’s servants had nothing do with his position and wealth, they are forced to flee. Grusha is forced to seek refuge in the Northern mountains. The iron shirts also harass innocent people by beating them up, sexually assaulting women and taking away people’s property. Michael is another innocent person who is pursued to be killed even yet he is not even aware that he is in danger. These illustrate how the poor are forced to shoulder heavy burdens during wars even though they may not have any interests in the war. This is best captured by Azdak when he sing The Song of Injustice in Persia: “…The king must have a new province, the peasant must give up his savings…. Our men are carried to the ends of the earth, so that the great ones can eat at home.”

Violence leads to more violence. In the play, the war in Persia led to the coup which in turn lead to the civil war and later counter coup in which the Grand Duke is reinstated. The princes take advantage of the absence of Grusinia’s army from the country to overthrow the Grand Duke. They are in turn rounded up and killed when the Grand Duke takes back power.

The innocent and the vulnerable and suffer the most from the effects of war and fighting. The servants say this about the employer, the governor’s family

There is rampant lawlessness during wars. Some of the lawlessness is perpetrated by the soldiers and police officers when they break the law they are meant to uphold. Other citizens may also take advantage of the law enforcement lapses during wars to commit crimes. Azdak and Irakli take advantage of the confusion after the coup. Azdak steals and eats princes’ rabbits while Irakli the bandit harasses farmers.

The end of a war gives a society an opportunity to redistribute wealth. This opportunity should be taken to give wealth not to those that merely claim it but those that really deserve it and have better plans to utilize it. In the prologue that valley initially owned by the collective goat farm Rosa Luxemburg is awarded to the collective fruit farm Galinsk who have a plan to fully utilize it by making a dam and irrigating a huge tract of land.  Azdak gives Michael to Grusha and gives the late governor’s estate to the people of Grusinia.

War can be easily avoided if parties in a conflict used dialogue to solve their differences. As exemplified by the two groups, Galinsk and Rosa Luxemburg, honest dialogue is an effective tool to solving differences. It is an alternative that is less costly and leaves both parties satisfied. As compared to the cost of war in terms of funds, lives, livelihoods, and time, communities should choose to use dialogue.


See also: The Caucasian Chalk Circle (by Bertolt Brecht) Excerpt question 3 http://wp.me/p2idcy-2k :Betrayal in the City (by Francis Imbuga)- Essay questions http://wp.me/p2idcy-27 ;SOCIAL STRUGGLE/CLASS STRUGGLE/ CLASS WARFARE IN THE CAUCASIAN CHALK CIRCLE http://wp.me/p2idcy-23 ; The River And The Source – Margaret Ogola [Review] http://wp.me/p2idcy-1W ; Theme of Justice in The Caucasian Chalk Circle (by Bertolt Brecht) http://wp.me/p2idcy-1O ; BETRAYAL IN THE CITY -PLOT SUMMARY http://wp.me/p2idcy-L ; Marxism in Bertolt Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle http://wp.me/p2idcy-B ; ANALYSIS OF HARUKI MURAKAMI’S THE MIRROR BY http://wp.me/p2idcy-q

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