Marxism in Bertolt Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle

Written in the US by a German exile, the play is diverse in culture, rich in history and full of humour. Bretch beautifully blends historical events in the soviet and oral tradition of the Chinese; the result is the beautiful postmodern play that is The Caucasian Chalk Circle.
Aptly set in the post world war II Soviet Georgia, The Caucasian Chalk Circle is a communist critique of capitalism. It explores in length some demerits of capitalism including capitalistic materialism, social stratification, inter-social class warfare and the exploitation of the masses. In the play, Bertolt Brecht also delves into revolution of the masses; collapse of capitalism; and the consequent redistribution of resources.
Capitalistic materialism persists throughout the play. At the beginning, Governor Abashwili’s wife is so oblivious of the danger facing her and her son Micheal while she is engrossed in saving her expensive dresses. Even with her executed husbands head hanging by the door, she still insists to use a carriage, for its comfort, instead of riding on horseback to safety. Much is her selfishness that she forgets to take her child with her to safety. Micheal is therefore left at the mercy of Grusha, his mother’s kitchen maid. The greed for power is so blinding that Kazbeki masterminds the execution of his brother the Governor.
There is a notable gap in terms of wealth between the rich and the poor. Abashwili’s court is always full of poor petitioners with assorted pleas to their noncommittal governor: some seeking release of their sons from the army; material help for war amputees; and tax reliefs for the poor. This comes at a time when the governor’s toddler Micheal has two doctors at his beck and call. The governor also plans to pull down nearby slums in order to extend his palace because of the newest member of his family.
The society in the play befits what Nyerere termed as a “man eat man society”. The individualism is pronounced as such. The princes sabotage the Grand Dukes war in Persia by taking payments for contracts to supply Grusinia’s army in Persia with horses and food which they fail to deliver. They later cite the losses in Persia as pretext of disposing off the Grand Duke in a bloody coup.
Prince Kazbeki brings his nephew to be a judge so that he can be “swinging justice their way”. However, the ignorant nephew is outsmarted by Azdak. In a revolutionary move, Azdak takes charge of the court and sits on the book of law while dispensing his own brand of rogue justice. He lets off poor defendants the hook while taking bribes and fining rich complainants. Notably is the case of the innkeeper against his stableman whom he accuses of raping his daughter-in-law. Azdak pardons the Stableman and charges the lady, Ludovica, with assault instead. His two year reign can be viewed as a revolution by the poor.
In a close parallel, a bandit called Irakli comes to the rescue of a poor widow who had lost her only son in the Persian war. The self proclaimed “Saint Banditus” helps the widow fend off a rich farmer who was about to evict her for non-payment of rent. Additionally, Irakli rewards her with a cow and ham stolen from the rich farmers.
The play culminates to the redistribution of resources –another Marxist ideal. Governor Abashwili’s garden is later repossessed by the state and given to the public as a recreation park. Likewise, the disputed valley is awarded to the fruit farmers even though it is the goat herders who initially owned it.

Watch The Caucasian Chalk Circle


see also: The Caucasian Chalk Circle (by Bertolt Brecht) Excerpt question 3 :Betrayal in the City (by Francis Imbuga)- Essay questions ;SOCIAL STRUGGLE/CLASS STRUGGLE/ CLASS WARFARE IN THE CAUCASIAN CHALK CIRCLE ; The River And The Source – Margaret Ogola [Review] ; Theme of Justice in The Caucasian Chalk Circle (by Bertolt Brecht) ; BETRAYAL IN THE CITY -PLOT SUMMARY ; Marxism in Bertolt Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle ; ANALYSIS OF HARUKI MURAKAMI’S THE MIRROR BY

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