The Caucasian Chalk Circle


Bertolt Brecht

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The Caucasian Chalk Circle Themes

Themes and Colors
Motherhood as Leadership Theme Icon
Corruption Theme Icon
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Chaos and Chance Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Caucasian Chalk Circle, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Motherhood as Leadership

The story at the heart of The Caucasian Chalk Circle is the story of Grusha’s adoption of Michael Abashwili. Michael, the pampered son of the Governor of Nuka, was carelessly left behind by his biological mother, Natella, when a coup swiftly and violently removed the Abashwilis from power. Although Grusha is initially uncertain of whether she should rescue the child and is afraid to take on the liability of being the protector of a…

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The Caucasian Chalk Circle is, at its heart, a work that forces its audience to reckon with the harsh realities of economic and social inequality. In keeping with Brecht’s Marxist political leanings, The Caucasian Chalk Circle depicts the narcissism and carelessness of the rich and the goodness and diligence of the poor in stark contrast. He sets this social critique against a backdrop of political turmoil in Grusinia (the Russian name for Georgia), as the…

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Justice and Injustice

The climax of The Caucasian Chalk Circle takes place in a courtroom, as a rather unconventional judge named Azdak employs a very unusual method of determining who should get custody of a small child. Brecht portrays Azdak as a madcap iconoclast who accepts bribes from the wealthy but often lets poor, downtrodden defendants off the hook in favor of prosecuting those who have sinned or broken the law in other, less obvious ways. Thus, justice…

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Chaos and Chance

Chaos and chance rule the world of The Caucasian Chalk Circle from the very first scene. From the prologue set in a ruined valley in the wake of World War II to the main action (i.e., the play-within-a-play set in the war-torn Grusinia of long ago), Brecht creates an atmosphere of tumult, revolt, and pandemonium. He does so in order to reveal the ways in which chaos can be both destructive and generative, and suggests…

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