The play is constructed in the form of a chain of paintings that outline the individual episodes from the life of the signatory of the second Finnish regiment. Markitants called traders who accompanied the troops in campaigns. Mother Kurazh has no illusions about the ideological background of the war and treats it extremely pragmatically – as a way of enrichment. She absolutely does not care what flag to trade in her travel shop, most importantly, that trade would be successful. Courage also accustoms to commerce and their children, who grew up in an endless war. Like any caring mother, she cares that the war would not catch them. However, against her will, the war inexorably takes away her two sons and daughter. But, even having lost all the children, the girl in her life does not change anything. As well as in the beginning of the drama, in the finale she stubbornly drags her little shop.
The eldest son – Eilif, embodies courage, the youngest son Schweitzerkas – honesty, dumb daughter Kathryn – kindness. And each of them ruins their best features. Thus, Brecht brings the viewer to the conclusion that in the conditions of war, human virtues lead to the death of their bearers. The picture of the shooting of Catherine – one of the most powerful in the play.
On the example of the fate of Kurazh’s children, the playwright shows the “underside” of human virtues, which opens in the conditions of war. When Eilif takes cattle from people, it becomes clear that courage has turned into cruelty. When Schweitzerkas hides money for his own life, it’s impossible not to be surprised by his stupidity. Nemota Catherine is perceived as an allegory of helpless kindness. The playwright urges us to reflect on the fact that in the modern world, virtues... must change.
The idea of the tragic doom of children Courage in the play summarizes the ironic “Zong” about the legendary personalities of human history, who allegedly also became victims of their own merits.
Most of the blame for the broken fates of Eilif, Schweitzerkas and Katrin, the author places on their mother. It is no accident that in the drama their death is mounted with the commercial affairs of Courage. Trying as a “business man” to win money, she loses her children every time. Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to believe that Courage is craving only profit. She is a very colorful person, even attractive in something. Cynicism, characteristic of the early works of Brecht, united in it with the spirit of disobedience, pragmatism – with savvy and “courage”, trading excitement – with the power of maternal love.
Its main mistake consists in the “commercial” morality-free approach to war. Markitanka hopes to feed herself with the war, but it turns out that, according to the sergeant, she feeds the war with her “offspring”. Deep symbolic meaning contains the scene of the divination (the first picture), when the heroine, with her own hands, paints black crosses on her parchment for her own children, and then mixes these shreds in a helmet (another “alienation” effect), jokingly comparing it to the mother’s womb.
The play “Mother Courage and Her Children” is one of the most important achievements of the “epic theater” Brecht. Mother Courage acts as a symbol of mutilated Germany. However, the content of the play goes far beyond the German history of the twentieth century. the fate of mother Courage and the strict warning embodied in her image concerns not only the Germans of the late 1930s. – the early 40’s. but also all who look at the war as a commerce.