Please wait while we process your payment
If you don't see it, please check your spam folder. Sometimes it can end up there.
Don’t have an account?
Create Your Account
Sign up for your FREE 7-day trial
Already have an account? Log in
Choose Your Plan
$4.99/month + tax
$24.99/year + tax
Save over 50% with a SparkNotes PLUS Annual Plan!
for a group?
Get Annual Plans at a discount when you buy 2 or more!
$18.74 /subscription + tax
Subtotal $37.48 + tax
on 2-49 accounts
on 50-99 accounts
Want 100 or more?
for a customized plan.
You'll be billed after your free trial ends.
7-Day Free Trial
Renews December 17, 2023
December 10, 2023
Discounts (applied to next billing)
This is not a valid promo code.
(one code per order)
Annual Plan - Group Discount
SparkNotes Plus subscription is $4.99/month or $24.99/year as selected above. The free trial period is the first 7 days of your subscription. TO CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION AND AVOID BEING CHARGED, YOU MUST CANCEL BEFORE THE END OF THE FREE TRIAL PERIOD. You may cancel your subscription on your Subscription and Billing page or contact Customer Support at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your subscription will continue automatically once the free trial period is over. Free trial is available to new customers only.
For the next 7 days, you'll have access to awesome PLUS stuff like AP English test prep, No Fear Shakespeare translations and audio, a note-taking tool, personalized dashboard, & much more!
You’ve successfully purchased a group discount. Your group members can use the joining link below to redeem their group membership. You'll also receive an email with the link.
Members will be prompted to log in or create an account to redeem their group membership.
Thanks for creating a SparkNotes account! Continue to start your free trial.
Your PLUS subscription has expired
Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, or literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text’s major themes.
The Verfremdungseffekt, alienation or "distanciation" effect, is the primary innovation of Brecht's epic theater. By alienating the spectator from the spectacle, its devices would reveal the social gestus underlying every incident on-stage and open a space for critical reflection. Often alienation also means making the workings of the spectacle possible, and decomposing the unity of the theatrical illusion. Brecht called for the spectator's alienation to oppose the mystifying tendencies of the conventional stage, tendencies that reduced its audience to passive, trance-like states. The possible techniques of alienation are endless. Slight chances in pace, alternative arrangements of the players on-stage, experiments in lighting, gesture, and tone. The success of each scene in Mother Courage hinges upon these devices. For example, Courage's "Song of the Great Capitulation," when played without alienation, risks seducing the spectator with the pleasures of surrender rather than exposing the depravity in the submission to an unjust authority.
Read about how Arthur Miller drew on the alienation effect in his original vision for his play A View from the Bridge.
At times the reader of Brecht feels trapped in a Marxist Gilbert and Sullivan musical. Rather than accompany or integrate itself into the theatrical illusion, music largely assumes an independent reality in Mother Courage, standing apart from the action. Brecht often underscored this separation by lowering a musical emblem whenever such a song would arise. Music is neither a simple accompaniment nor exclusively the expression of a character's current state, at times functioning instead in its autonomy as allegory, or as covert political commentary. Often it assumes a pedagogical function. Note, for example, how Courage teaches the soldier surrender through her song of capitulation or Yvette attempts to harden Kattrin to love through her "Fraternization Song."
Read about another play that has a stylized use of music as a motif, Tennessee Williams’s The Glass Menagerie.
Deemed a "damned soul" in Brecht’s Courage Model Book , Mother Courage works tirelessly, resting only once in the course of the play. Her haggling, careful inventory, and so on frame and punctuate the action, emphasizing its underlying the social gestus. Courage always protects her interests shrewdly, inquiring into the fate of the war with only her profit in mind. Her practices emerge from the social conditions that determine the characters, committing her to the war. Ultimately she will lose each of her children as a result. Moreover, as the final scene chillingly shows, so ritualized are these practices that Courage will not learn from her losses.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Mother Courage and Her Children!