The Good Woman of Setzuan has ratings and reviews. In , Hannah Arendt hailed Bertolt Brecht as beyond a doubt the greatest living German p. Bertolt Brecht’s choice of the non-existent locale “Setzuan” as the setting for his drama “The Good Woman of Setzuan” is interesting in many respects. First, as a. Analysis and discussion of characters in Bertolt Brecht’s The Good Woman of Setzuan.

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The Good Woman of Setzuan – Past | Drama In The Hood

I cannot tell what occured: Goodness to others and to myself could not both be achieved. The play was extremely depressing in the beginning but gradually it grew on me. The drudgery of society and it’s people is portrayed brilliantly.

A “good” woman who is forced to survive through any means necessary. Shen Teh’s growth as an i. Shen Teh’s growth as an individual was interesting to watch.

Of course if you want a happy ending, you should keep in mind it is a modernist play. Otherwise it is a short and interesting read. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.

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Return to Book Page. InHannah Arendt hailed Bertolt Brecht as “beyond a doubt the greatest living German poet and possibly the greatest living European playwright. During the thirties, the subversive nature of his wetzuan sent Brecht from Germany to Scandinavia and later to the United States. The Good Woman of Setzuan, written during Brecht’s exile and set in Communist China, is a parable of a young woman torn between obligation and reality, between love and practicality, and between her own needs and those of her friends and neighbors.

Adhering closely to the original German text, this is a performance-friendly translation of one of Brecht’s most popular plays.

The Good Woman of Setzuan | play by Brecht |

Paperbackpages. Published November 15th by University of Minnesota Press first published WangShen TeShui Ta. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Good Woman of Setzuanplease sign up. Is this book abridged or unabridged version? See 1 question about The Good Woman of Setzuan…. Lists with This Book. Opening with a monologue from a water seller Wangwho is waiting for the Gods on the impoverished streets of a city outskirts, it brscht take a genius to figure out that not only is this a Brecht play, but also it’s setting is the far east Chinese Culture being something that fascinated him.

Taking you inside the too often unexamined lives of common folk, petty criminals and outcasts living out a life of brutalising poverty is nothing new to him. But with The Good Person of Setzuan, there is an artistic adventurousness that adds something different to the melting pot. The play, like other works of his, still remains pessimistic, but dazzles nonetheless. Coming from an era when the author was creating parables for the stage, productions that invite you to consider such issues as how economics affect life decisions and how power is surrendered and wielded.

With a perception that everyone requires such a dual or split personality to survive an ever present harsh world environment.

This is a story of the streets, not the sort of streets I would want to wander around any time soon. Most of the action taking place in a poverty-stricken neighborhood.


The prostitute, Shen Tei, has a soul like that of a blossoming flower. She wants to become something beautiful, to someone or something. But her kindness is not predicated on giving as good as she gets. Rather, she gives because sharing is a natural art, just like when she paints her mouth bright red to attract male clientele.

She is the only one in Szechwan who offers the Gods a place to stay after Wang assures them that Szechwan is just the kind of town that will refute their notion that a good person is a rare thing. As a reward, the Gods give their hostess a small amount of money. With it, Shen Tei opens a modest tobacco shop and life seems to take shape for the better. But always lurking is a battle of faith, and of good and evil, that tips the apple cart. How can she survive as a new and honest person, play straight in a corrupt world of ruthlessness, without her former hard self to help get her through?.

Brecht insisted the mechanics of making theatre should always be exposed, so audiences would be made aware of how the theatre sought to manipulate them. He rejected with contempt the popular notion that the chief aim of the theatre was to create empathy.

He wanted his audience to think and act critically about their situation, inside the theatre and beyond it’s walls. Critiquing capitalism is an underlying theme here, and the tightly-knit text made for a thought-provoking read. The briskly paced bare bones nature that cuts to the gist of the story in this and his other plays, was always likely to provoke a response and get people talking from whomever attended it’s theatrical production, just as Brecht would have wanted it.

The fact he stuck the finger up to Nazi repression and carried on regardless makes me like him that extra bit more. Not only as a Playwright, but as a person. The world we are introduced to in The Good Person of Szechwan is a grim one, and the premise is almost allegory: Is it possible to be a good and selfless person when everyone else is bad? Pragmatism and idealism clash in this work, in a way that questions them both. Three unnamed gods are looking for a good human being.

The Good Woman of Setzuan

If we can find only one good person, a person that is og to live a decent life, they tell us, then the world is saved. And they seem to find one: Shen Te, a poor woman living i The world we are introduced to in The Good Person of Szechwan is a grim one, and the premise is almost allegory: Shen Te, a poor woman living in Szechwan. They decide to give her some money and keep an eye on her to see how she gets along. Setzuaj only thing Shen Te wants, is to be unconditionally good.

This inevitably leads her to be tricked and exploited. But even when she sees it coming, she can’t help herself.

Bertolt Brecht gets on his bike

If somebody asks her for something, she gives it. She borrows money for her rent but ends up giving it away. She feeds more people than she can afford to, without them giving back in any way. She finds joy in helping others, and suffers when they suffer.

But the world she lives in does not condone that type of goodness. It is a world of poverty, pollution and exploitation. You cannot be good and live a decent life here – not when you have to choose between stealing or setzuann.


You bbrecht only build up a decent quality of life for yourself by being pretty strict and ruthless to others. Even Shen Te expresses fatigue with trying to be good, and loses her faith in people.

First, she is good because she believes in the good in others. Later on, she is good or tries to bein spite of knowing that people will just take advantage.

As she gets exploited time and time again, Shen Te segzuan to deal with it somehow. This is when she view spoiler [“invents” a cousin, Shui Ta, to swoop in and take care of all the dirty work. Dressing up as a man, and inventing another persona for herself, meek, idealistic Shen Te is suddenly capable of being stern and pragmatic.

Her plan is to use this alter ego only when it is absolutely necessary, but unfortunately, it often is. Shui Ta tells people to pay back what they owe, to get a job, or just to scram. His ruthlessness makes it possible to slowly achieve something in life, instead of just giving stuff away. One must not only be a good person, but make a decent living for oneself being that good person. And neither Shen Te, nor Shui Ta, can do both.

What Brecht alludes to throughout the play, is the premise or condition – the kind of world we are living in.

In Shen Te’s world, brexht and selflessness cannot to survive and prosper. Good people are doomed to poverty. Shen Te is, like everybody else, a victim to doman circumstances, but she is consistently good, in spite of them. At least until she sees that this is not working. The initial goodness in Shen Te is pure and instant. It’s a naive and thoughtless goodness, one that does not plan ahead, does not take into account that other people might not brechy good, and this, naturally, makes it giod for others to take advantage.

Shen Te’s goodness is, therefore, impossible to sustain. But are there, maybe, other ways of being good? Is it not possible for a good person to scheme and plan?

Does goodness have to be stupid? This comparison of goodness with naivety, and evil with cleverness and planning, is not one I am immediately willing to buy, but I do think that the biggest pitfall for the clever good people is that planning and scheming makes it easy to reduce womzn to pawns, to means instead of goals.

All in all, I thought this play presented the reader with a very interesting clash between idealism and grim reality.

It seems like goodness needs a lot of pragmatism and life experience not to backfire. And to understand that there are consequences to womaan action, even the ones that might seem good at gooc moment.

The good act you perform now, might make it that much more difficult to continue to do good in the future especially if you give all your money away.