Principles of Brechtian Narrative Drama: Case Study of Mother Courage and Her Children



Brechtian narrative drama as opposed to Aristotelian drama initiated an enormous transformation in German dramatic literature. The major distinctive feature between Aristotelian and non-Aristotelian drama lies in the certain view and effect each one generates on the audience. According to Brecht, Aristotelian drama based on pity, fear, empathy, and catharsis results in passivity, lethargy, and identification. Moreover, it is oriented towards fatalism and individual problems. Brecht, through his own narrative design, rejected this long-standing view which ruled over European drama for centuries. He proposed certain reformations for traditional play writing and was after changing the audience’s outlook. In order to do that, he questioned the process of individual cognition and made the ordinary issues of life seem unknowable and astonishing. This technique which is called “defamiliarization” or “making strange” creates a distance between the audience and the play generating critical thinking. The present article introduces briefly the principles of Brechtian narrative drama in opposition to Aristotelian drama and is an attempt to familiarize the readers with Brecht’s ideas and his various techniques of defamiliarization and their application in Mother Courage.