Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Bertolt Brecht's The Good Woman of Setzuan. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
The Good Woman of Setzuan: Introduction
The Good Woman of Setzuan: Plot Summary
The Good Woman of Setzuan: Detailed Summary & Analysis
The Good Woman of Setzuan: Themes
The Good Woman of Setzuan: Quotes
The Good Woman of Setzuan: Characters
The Good Woman of Setzuan: Symbols
The Good Woman of Setzuan: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of Bertolt Brecht
Historical Context of The Good Woman of Setzuan
Other Books Related to The Good Woman of Setzuan
- Full Title: The Good Woman of Setzuan (from the German Der gute Mensch von Sezuan, often translated literally as The Good Person of Szechwan)
- When Written: 1938-1941
- Where Written: Los Angeles
- Literary Period: Modernism; Epic Theater
- Genre: Play
- Setting: Setzuan, a fictionalized version of the Chinese province of Sichuan
- Climax: Shen Te reveals to the trio of gods who first declared her a “good” person that she has, in fact, been living a double life, masquerading as her “bad cousin” Shui Ta in order to better run her tobacco business.
- Antagonist: The Good Woman of Setzuan is unique in that it sets up almost every minor character as an antagonist to Shen Te and it demonstrates how each person antagonizes her in their own way. Yang Sun, Mrs. Mi Tzu, the carpenter, the members of the family of eight, and even Shen Te’s alter ego Shui Ta are all antagonists in their own right.
- Point of View: Dramatic
Extra Credit for The Good Woman of Setzuan
Play On Words. Brecht originally wanted to title the play that became The Good Woman of Setzuan as Die Ware Liebe, a phrase which translates in English to “the product love,” “the product that is love,” or “love as a commodity.” The German term for “true love” is Die wahre Liebe. Accordingly, Shen Te’s struggles with love are a large part of the play’s action. As she works to be a “good” friend, neighbor, and lover in the face of capitalism and greed, Brecht’s cynical assertion that love can never be more than a commodity becomes clear.