The style tends to vary from writer to writer. Mostly the style is the author's opinion, and perhaps (depending on the author) a discussion of what others in the field think about the same author or story. My paper is basically my discussion of Brecht's work from a view that Brecht's work is humanistic. (A view obtained from reading journals). I based my style on essays from reading the German Quarterly.
The tone for my field is dependent upon the writer. My tone within this paper tends to be opinionated, informative in spots, and with a hint of sarcasm.
The key words within my field are often in German and are undefined. I take the same approach when writing in this field. For the purpose of my paper, the quotations will be translated in English on a separate page.
The documentation style of my field is that of the MLA.
ie: Brecht, Bertolt. Kalendergeschichten. Berlin-Schoneberg: Gebruder Weiss Verlag, 1949.
The journals from which I am drawing my assumptions on are the following: German Quarterly, Modern Language Journal, and various papers presented that can be found in ERIC.
October 3, 1992
So many woman in society do not have their own identity, They are property, slaves to their husband and family. So often these women die not knowing that they exist outside of their families, only a few realize that they are individuals and can exist without their families. In Brecht's story, Die Unwurdige Greisen, a widowed woman discovers her identity. Zivanovic wrote that Bertolt Brecht and his notion of humanism in drama as "He sees man as the author of his own woe and the only source of choice and action to change this course." It is my contention that Brecht used the notion of self to make choices and changes in portraying the changing image of the old woman in the story, Die Unwurdige Greisin.
The story is told by the grandson of a widowed woman, who has obtained letters written between her children concerning the welfare of their mother. Of the five children, four have moved outside of the town, and one remained, a printer who happens to be the source of information on the well-being and activities of the mother. The printer informs his siblings as to the mother's comings and goings, and he doesn't approve of the manner in which the mother is now living. The mother has changed her lifestyle, and her lifestyle change does not suit the son. The mother was on her way to discovering herself and changing herself, an idea that did not please the son.
The story is about a woman's need to find her own identity in life, a woman's desire to discover who she is. It is the typical stereotypic story of a woman, a housewife who discovers that once all of her children have moved out, and her husband dead, that she has no identity, that she has no life outside of her family. Brecht in writing the story, takes a twist in the typical plot. Typically what happens is the world expects the woman to just shrivel up and die. However in Brecht's story, the woman finds herself. Brecht writes the story as if the woman has been living in the dark for most of her life, and finally wakes up, and steps into the light to discover her own identity.
From the perspective of the printer, his mother is becoming a person that he does not know; she was changing right before his very eyes. She had finally grown out of the cocoon that she had been spinning her whole life, and grew wings. She had become her own person, not attached to anyone else's strings, her own boss. The son wanted her to be the mother she had always been, not a stranger with whom he was unaccustomed to knowing.
Etwa ein halbes Jahr nach dem Tod des Grossvaters schrieb der Buchdrucker meinem Vater, dass die Mutter jetzt jeden zweiten Tag im Gasthof esse. Was fur eine Nachricht. (Brecht 145)
The son was appalled that the mother was not spending her life in the house, that she was no longer the happy housewife. He could not understand why the mother changed the way she did. The son wanted the mother to remain the same, to never find her own identity.
The son can not understand the mother's need to discover who she is. The son does not understand why his mother needs to change, he wants her to remain the same. The son is afraid of change, he is like the child who throws a temper tantrum when his favorite toy gets taken away. The son does not understand human nature, he does not understand the importance of his mother being an individual.
The mother has spent her life living for other people. She has never before lived for herself. "Meine Grossmutter besorgte ohne Magd den Haushalt, betreute das alte, wacklige Haus und kochte fur die Mannsleute und Kinder." (Brecht 143). The mother did all of the cleaning, cooking, and other houshold duties without the help of a servant, without help from anyone else. Now that her husband is finally dead, she is no longer a servant to anyone. She can live her life as she sees fit. The mother is no longer bound to her house and family as society has taught her to be. She does not have to answer to anyone but herself, she is free to live as she pleases, the bonds of servitude have been lifted from her.
What bothered the son the most about the changes in his mother was that she would not share her house with him.
Er wohnte mit vier Kindern in drei Zimmeren. Aber die Greisin hielt uberhaupt eine sehr lose Verbindung mit ihm aufrecht. Sie lud die Kinder jeden Sonntagnachmittag zum Kaffee, das war eigentlich alles. (Brecht 144)
The mother kept a very loose relationship with her printer son and his family. She only had the children over every Sunday afternoon for coffee. She had a certain desire to close off her old life, and to concentrate only on a new life. She did not want to fall back into her old ways of serving everyone else. If she were to keep a tight relationship with her children she might fall back into her old ways of life, now that the mother had a idea as to who she was, she did not want to give it up to serve her son and his family.
The son was mad because the mother would not let him, his wife, and their four children move into the house. The son feels sorry for himself, his situation, and wants his mother to bail him out. He is actually upset with his mother because she won't let him move back in. If his family were to move back in, the life of the mother would be back to where it was before, a servant for everyone else, a woman with out an identity of her own. The printer said,
Ich sitze hier in diesen Lochern mit den Meinen und habe nur noch funf stunden Arbeit und schlecht bezahlte, dazu macht mir mein Asthma wieder zu schaffen, und das haus in der Hauptstrasse steht leer. (Brecht 146)
The son wants his mother to give up her identity, and let him move into her house with his family. The mother who just found freedom does not want to give it up for the son.
The printer spends his life complaining about his situation, failing to see that his mother's situation is improving. The mother is living her life as she pleases. The narrator's father said, "er solle die alte Frau machen lassen, was sie wollte" (Brecht 146). The printer's brother felt that he should let her live her life the way she wanted to, not the way the printer wanted her to. The printer should spend less time focusing on his needs, by wanting to move in, and more time focusing on his mother's need to have a life of her own.
The printer believed that attending a movie theater was disrespectful, and that the mother had no right to do so. The printer wrote,
Der Eintritt war gewiss billlig, da aber das Vergnugen ungefahr unter den Schleckereien rangierte, bedeutete es hinausgeworfenes Geld. Und hinaufgeworfenes Geld war nicht respektabel. (Brecht 144)
He did not realize that perhaps the mother enjoyed going to see a movie. He also said that attending a movie theater was like throwing away money, and to throw away money was disrespectful. Perhaps to the son going to the movies and spending money was disrespectful, but who is the son to judge the mother. The mother is a women who is capable of deciding what she wants to do with her life, she does not need her son to tell her what to do.
The printer was also offended that the mother was no longer speaking with her old friends. The mother was shedding her old life and finding a new life, she was like an infant discovering the world for the first time. The mother had found a niche, she found the friends that she needed, and enjoyed their company. In particular, one friend of the mothers bothered the son, that was the cobbler. The printer questioned his mother as to the nature of their relationship, and all the mother would say was "Er hat etwas gesehen," (Brecht 145).
The mother wanted to do away with her old life all together, and go on with her knew life. When one of her son's returned to visit, he wanted to go and see his father's grave. The mother replied, "‘Du kannst allein hingehen,' sagte sie beilaufig, ‘es ist das dritte von links in der elften Reihe. Ich muss noch wohin'" (Brecht 146). The mother wanted to live her life, and not live in the past.
When she died, she had lived more in two years, than in her whole life. She discovered what it meant to be alive, and be free. "Sie hatte die langen Jahre der Knechtschaft und die kurzen Jahre der Freiheit ausgekostet und das Brot des Lebens aufgezehrt bis auf den letzten Brosamen" (Brecht 148). The mother had discovered what it meant to be her, what her life meant. She had found more meaning in the last two years of her life, than in her drab existence as a house wife. The mother was lifted herself out of servitude, and became a person.
Zivanovic, Judith. The Influence of their Notions of Humanism on the Drama of Jean-Paul Sartre and Bertolt Brecht. Minneapolis: Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Central States Speech Association, 1973.
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