Song as a style in Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle

Songs are an important part of the play especially since the story told by Arkadi is itself in the form of a song. Together with his four singers, he uses songs stylistically to facilitate the delivery of the play. The function of songs alternates between: developing the plot by giving more information about characters and events; marking the end of episodes and scenes; making commentaries on the events in the play; creating suspense; and breaking the monotony of the play.
In other cases songs develop the plot by giving the audience more information about events, characters and their feelings and thoughts. A lot of information about happenings in The Caucasian Chalk Circle is delivered through songs sang by the singer or by characters. George Abashwili’s background information (his wealth, good family and seemingly enjoyable life) is supplied to the reader by the singer. Also, the singer describes the ambush laid by Kazbeki’s ironshirts in the palace.
Some of the songs have been used to introduce scenes by giving vivid description of the scenes.
The city is still
Pigeons strut in the church square.
A soldier of the palace guard
Is joking with a kitchen maid
As she comes up from the river with a bundle
This song is used to introduce the scene where Grusha and Simon flirt. This way, songs help readers follow the transitions from one scene to another.
There are instances when Brecht uses songs to create suspense. This is achieved in two ways. First, when a song hints at what is going to happen, the audience’s interest is aroused making them want to know the whole story. Secondly, suspense is also created when a song separates two scenes, events or chapters. This makes the audience to wait longer to know what happens in the plot of the story thus heightening suspense.

How will this barefoot girl escape the ironshirts,
The bloodhounds, the trap setters?
They hunt even by night.
Pursuers never tire. Butchers sleep little.
This chorus hints at the trouble that lies ahead of Grusha and Michael as they head for the northern mountains. It creates anxiety in the audience to know whether Grusha will escape the ironshirts or whether she and Michael will be captured.
At times songs comment on events or characters’ behaviour thus giving a third person opinion. This is aimed at inciting the audience to think in a particular manner; either to support a character/event or to disapprove of it. For instance, the singer in reference to Governor Abashwili, says “O blindness of the great….” to suggest that the governor was foolish to trust the palace guard. The many songs in the play interpret the various episodes in the story
The songs highlight the emotions of characters. The Song of the Four Generals captures Grusha’s optimism. Her fear and dilemma are pointed out in The Song of the Rotten Bridge.
Deep is the abyss,
I see the weak bridge sway
But it’s not for us son
To choose the way.
The Song of the child is sung to Michael by Grusha. The song expresses Grusha’s opinion that a child should not suffer because of the sins committed by his parents. Also, it captures her optimism that Michael will have a better future: …. “yet honourable men shall kneel before you….” The song also expresses Grusha’s readiness to risk her life to provide for Michael: … “The mothers will get milk/ From the son of the snake.”
The Song of the Centre is sung by Grusha while at her brother’s house. It is an indirect criticism of Lavrenti’s failure to decide whether to take his sister’s side or to support his wife. Lavrenti sits on the fence while Grusha is cold shouldered by Aniko.
The Song of Injustice in Persia is sung by Azdak after the weavers’ revolt against the Princes. It is a cry for justice for the poor. It exemplifies how the poor are oppressed by their leaders and the wealthy through heavy taxation, forceful conscription and evictions: “… 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 great ones can eat at home….”
The song of Chaos in Egypt is sung by Azdak towards the end of his 2 year reign. The song celebrates the results of the peasants’ revolt in Grusinia. Peasants seized the opportunity created by the coup to stage their own revolt. During these two years they took control of the Grusinia: “ …Men of no standing are jumping for joy…./Who begged for corn on the corner now distribute it to others.”

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 ;The Caucasian Chalk Circle (by Bertolt Brecht) – song as a style

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