The Life of Galileo


Bertolt Brecht

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Life of Galileo can help.

Everything you need
for every book you read.

"Sooo much more helpful than SparkNotes. The way the content is organized
and presented is seamlessly smooth, innovative, and comprehensive."
Get LitCharts A+
  • Easy-to-use guides to literature, poetry, literary terms, and more
  • Super-helpful explanations and citation info for over 30,000 important quotes
  • Unrestricted access to all 50,000+ pages of our website and mobile app
Get LitCharts A+

The Life of Galileo: Scene 8 Summary & Analysis

The Little Monk comes to visit Galileo. He tells Galileo that, ever since Clavius declared Galileo’s findings to be correct, he has struggled to reconcile them with his faith. The only option the Little Monk sees is to abandon astronomy altogether.
This scene is another moment (like the previous one with Sagredo) in which a sincere, intelligent man faces the real-life consequences of the struggle between tradition and progress.
Progress vs. Tradition Theme Icon
Ideas as Infection Theme Icon
The Little Monk doesn’t doubt Galileo, he says, but he doubts that telling the truth about the universe will help anyone. He thinks it will only serve to confuse them and shake their faith. As a priest, he can’t allow that. Galileo reminds the Little Monk that he’s not just a priest; he is also a physicist. He hands the monk a bundle of manuscripts containing valuable scientific research, but reminds the monk that he’s not supposed to read it. Yet, before the papers are even out of Galileo’s hands, the Little Monk has become absorbed in them. Galileo likens the papers to an apple from the tree of knowledge from which the Little Monk has now taken a bite.
Galileo has already been associated with Satan because of the apple symbol Brecht employs throughout the play. While this is generally a playful association (because Galileo isn’t actually the devil and he’s not turning people towards evil), it’s also a sincere one in many ways. The Little Monk has very real doubts about his faith, which were caused by Galileo. Yet, it is the Little Monk’s faith that secures everything in his life: if he doesn’t have it, he no longer has the access to food, shelter, and community, since all these are provided by the Church.
Progress vs. Tradition Theme Icon
Ideas as Infection Theme Icon
Related Quotes