The Caucasian Chalk Circle

by

Bertolt Brecht

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Natella Abashwili Character Analysis

The wife of Georgi Abashwili and a similarly vain and uncaring individual. Whereas her husband’s main concern is an architectural project which will expand their lavish palace, Natella’s main concern is her dressing and finery. When Georgi is captured and killed, Natella’s servants and staff urge her to flee the palace with her infant son, Michael. Natella packs too much for the trip, stuffing several trunks with her finest garments and accessories. When her servants tell her she can’t possibly take everything with her, Natella begins fussing over which of her things she should bring along, and instructs a servant-girl who is holding the child to set him down and fetch Natella a pair of saffron shoes she left behind inside the palace. When Natella sees the red sky overhead, signaling fire from the peasants’ riots, she allows herself to be swept away from the palace, leaving her child behind. Later in the play, after the old regime has been restored to power, Natella orders her soldiers to hunt down her child and bring him back to her. His adoptive mother, Grusha, follows Michael back to Nuka after he is taken away by Natella’s soldiers. There, Grusha and Natella stand trial against one another. During the course of the trial, it is revealed that Natella only wants her son back because he stands to inherit his father’s estates. When the unusual judge Azdak proposes that the two women place Michael in the center of a chalk circle and yank on one arm each to try pulling Michael out of the circle and thus be proclaimed his true mother, Natella pulls on her child while Grusha refuses to cause the boy any bodily harm. Grusha is declared Michael’s true mother, and Natella faints when Azdak rules that all of Michael’s inheritance will be dissolved, and will instead go to the city. Thus, Natella represents themes of corruption, injustice, and the vanity of the wealthy and powerful.

Natella Abashwili Quotes in The Caucasian Chalk Circle

The The Caucasian Chalk Circle quotes below are all either spoken by Natella Abashwili or refer to Natella Abashwili. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Motherhood as Leadership Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the University of Minnesota Press edition of The Caucasian Chalk Circle published in 1999.
Act 1 Quotes

“O blindness of the great! They go their way like gods, great over bent backs, sure of hired fists, trusting in the power which has lasted so long. But long is not forever. O change from age to age! Thou hope of the people!”

Related Characters: Arkadi Tscheidse (speaker), Natella Abashwili, Georgi Abashwili
Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:
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Natella Abashwili Character Timeline in The Caucasian Chalk Circle

The timeline below shows where the character Natella Abashwili appears in The Caucasian Chalk Circle. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1: The Noble Child
Corruption Theme Icon
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
...nicknamed “City of the Damned.” The Governor was wealthy and prosperous, with a beautiful wife, Natella, and a healthy baby named Michael. (full context)
Corruption Theme Icon
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Chaos and Chance Theme Icon
...their country is fighting. The governor, flanked by Ironshirts—his soldiers and guards—approaches the church with Natella and Michael, who is pushed through the crowd in an ornate carriage. The crowd of... (full context)
Corruption Theme Icon
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Chaos and Chance Theme Icon
...enters the church, the Fat Prince greets them, and wishes a happy Easter to Georgi, Natella, and their Michael, playfully tickling the child. Natella tells the Fat Prince of her husband... (full context)
Corruption Theme Icon
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
The baby begins to cough, and Natella grows concerned. She turns to Michael’s doctors—who are with the family always—and the doctors vow... (full context)
Corruption Theme Icon
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
While Natella, Michael, their servants, and the Fat Prince proceed into the church, the Governor is held... (full context)
Corruption Theme Icon
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Chaos and Chance Theme Icon
...in the distance, the Governor, his family, and their entourage return home from the service. Natella continues talking about the expansion to the palace, while a group of prominent architects arrive... (full context)
Corruption Theme Icon
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Chaos and Chance Theme Icon
...brother in the mountains she can go to for help. Simon expresses his loyalty to Natella, despite the fact that the Palace Guard has mutinied against the Abashwilis. Grusha tells Simon... (full context)
Chaos and Chance Theme Icon
...to head for the third courtyard, and tells her that he is going to take Natella to the troops that have remained loyal to the Governor’s family. Simon assures Grusha that... (full context)
Corruption Theme Icon
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Chaos and Chance Theme Icon
Natella emerges from the castle, surrounded by servants who carry her many belongings. One servant woman... (full context)
Motherhood as Leadership Theme Icon
Corruption Theme Icon
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Chaos and Chance Theme Icon
Shalva tells Natella that shots have been fired in the city, and that it is time to leave.... (full context)
Motherhood as Leadership Theme Icon
Corruption Theme Icon
Chaos and Chance Theme Icon
The sky has turned red with flames from the city, and when Natella sees this she goes “rigid” with fear. Shalva pulls her onto his horse and takes... (full context)
Motherhood as Leadership Theme Icon
Corruption Theme Icon
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Chaos and Chance Theme Icon
...old—leave. The women both warn Grusha to leave Michael behind, but Grusha tells them that Natella’s servant girl is going to come back for him. The women tell Grusha not to... (full context)
Corruption Theme Icon
...Governor’s head above the entry to the palace. The Fat Prince laments the fact that Natella took the “brat” away and says that he needs Michael “urgently.” The Fat Prince and... (full context)
Act 3: In the Northern Mountains
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Chaos and Chance Theme Icon
...back to the city, Grusha follows them back to the “dreaded” Nuka to fight against Natella for custody of the child. Arkadi wonders whether a good judge or a bad one... (full context)
Act 4: The Story of the Judge
Corruption Theme Icon
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Chaos and Chance Theme Icon
Arkadi reveals that eventually the Grand Duke returned to Nuka, as did the Governor’s wife, Natella. The Fat Prince was beheaded and deposed, and Azdak became seized by fear. Back in... (full context)
Corruption Theme Icon
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Chaos and Chance Theme Icon
...plans to beg on his knees for mercy, as he is very afraid of death. Natella enters the chamber, flanked by Ironshirts. One soldier informs Azdak that Natella is looking for... (full context)
Act 5: The Chalk Circle
Motherhood as Leadership Theme Icon
Corruption Theme Icon
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Chaos and Chance Theme Icon
...when the governor’s wife returned for the child, and Grusha confesses that she believed that Natella would never find them. The cook tells Grusha that she has wronged Simon, who has... (full context)
Corruption Theme Icon
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Chaos and Chance Theme Icon
Natella and her two lawyers are on their way to the courtroom. Natella she says that... (full context)
Corruption Theme Icon
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Chaos and Chance Theme Icon
Natella’s lawyers approach Azdak, and pass him a bit of money. Azdak counts the money and... (full context)
Motherhood as Leadership Theme Icon
Corruption Theme Icon
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
One of Natella’s lawyers begins his opening statements, waxing poetic about the role of blood ties and the... (full context)
Motherhood as Leadership Theme Icon
Corruption Theme Icon
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Natella’s lawyer resumes his speech. Natella cuts in to describe her “torture[d]” soul, and her second... (full context)
Motherhood as Leadership Theme Icon
Corruption Theme Icon
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Chaos and Chance Theme Icon
Natella’s lawyers explain that after Michael was left behind under “unfortunate” circumstances, Grusha stole him away.... (full context)
Corruption Theme Icon
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Chaos and Chance Theme Icon
...her that everyone but “starvelings” like Grusha pays him off. Grusha exclaims that even though Natella is rich and refined, she would have no idea how to care for her own... (full context)
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Chaos and Chance Theme Icon
...court for fifteen minutes, telling Grusha that he has momentarily lost interest in her case. Natella’s lawyers tell her that they have the verdict “in the bag.” The cook laments that... (full context)
Motherhood as Leadership Theme Icon
Corruption Theme Icon
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Chaos and Chance Theme Icon
Shauwa enters with Michael, and Natella is appalled to see that he is dressed in commoner’s clothing. Grusha replies that Natella... (full context)
Motherhood as Leadership Theme Icon
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Chaos and Chance Theme Icon
...the floor, and to place Michael in the center. Shauwa does so. Azdak then instructs Natella and Grusha to stand near the circle at opposite ends, and to each take the... (full context)
Motherhood as Leadership Theme Icon
Corruption Theme Icon
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Chaos and Chance Theme Icon
Natella’s lawyers object, but Azdak ignores them and orders the women to pull. Natella yanks Michael... (full context)
Motherhood as Leadership Theme Icon
Corruption Theme Icon
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Chaos and Chance Theme Icon
...the court, but agrees to let the women take the test once more. Grusha and Natella assume their position, but again only Natella pulls at Michael and yanks him out of... (full context)