The Good Woman of Setzuan | Play by Brecht | Essay

What do you think is the significance of the fact that in Brecht’s play The Good Woman of Setzuan, the characters Shen Te and Shui Ta are one in the same? Briefly describe the attributes of each character. Are they compatible? Why or why not? What message do you think Brecht is trying to send with this “double” character?

Bertolt Brecht composed The Good Woman of Setzuan while living in the U.S. He began to chip away at it in 1938 yet it wasn’t finished until 1943. In German, the title is Der Gute Mensch von Setzuan. This interprets into “The Good Person of Setzuan”, as the play is now and again called. The play starts with a water merchant named Wong who is out attempting to offer his item. While working, he meets three divine beings. The divine beings have been hunting the earth down a decent individual who lives by their rules. Notwithstanding, they find just vagrants and delinquents. Wong lets them know about a whore who “can’t” say no and is liable to benefit any deed asked. The divine beings meet this whore, Shen Te, and observe that she is great. They remunerate her with cash that she uses to purchase a tobacco shop. She opens the cash and tobacco in her shop to any individual who considerations to ask. She likewise permits destitute families to live in the shop. Her graciousness is great to the divine beings and others, however, her shop rapidly gets to be stuffed, chaotic, and low on cash. At that point one day Shen Tes secretive cousin, Shui Ta appears. Shui Ta kicks out the individuals living in the shop and returns it again into a benefit gaining business. Then again, the gathering of people is mindful that Shui Ta is truly Shen Te in a veil.

Inevitably Shen Te returns and proceeds with her beneficent exercises. As time advances, expression of the “great lady of seizure” spreads and more individuals go to the tobacco shop searching for help. As more individuals interest Shen Tes philanthropy, Shui Ta appears more regularly. Shui Ta begins advancing around so much of the time that he finds himself able to develop the business into an extensive tobacco shop with numerous workers. Shui Ta is by all account not the only man attempting to help Shen Te. Shen Te meets a pilot named Yang Sun. Shen Te likes him yet her companions don’t. They would rather she date the nearby dough puncher why should willing put a great deal of cash into the tobacco shop. As Shen Tes story builds up, the divine beings weigh in with Wong on a couple of events. Wong lets them know that Shen Te keeps on doing great and the divine beings discuss the ethical guidelines they have set up on earth. One day a worker at the tobacco shop hears Shen Te crying, however, she just finds Shui Ta when he looks in on her. Shui Ta is then taken to court for purportedly seizing or killing his cousin. At the trial, the divine beings camouflage themselves as the judges. Shui Ta then lets them know he will admit when the room is cleared. Alone with the judges, Shui Ta uncovers that he is really Shen Te. Shen Te examines with the god how masking herself as Shui Ta was essential to keep the business alive. The divine beings sympathize with the circumstance as they understand their ethical principles aren’t idealize. They permit Shen Te to be Shui Ta just low maintenance, a bargain Shen Te is not fulfilled by.

With this story, I accept Brecht attempted to show how individuals must adjust great and terrible moralities. This subject can first be seen with the presentation of divine beings. Most stories don’t highlight any god or divine beings as characters so its unmistakable from the earliest starting point that profound quality would be a focal subject here. They first say that they have been searching for somebody great who takes after their rules. This demonstrates that divine beings are inventors and leave individuals to live with their own unrestrained choice. It likewise demonstrates that they need individuals to do great things in life. This religious topic is intriguing subsequent to Brecht was a comrade and communists were known to be generally common. Maybe it was his stay in the U.S. which issued him the thought of utilizing divine beings as characters. The religious topic is likewise apparent in the way that Shen Te was initially a whore. In the New Testament of the Bible, Jesus becomes friends with a whore, Mary of Magdalene, who winds up turning into one of his nearest educates. In Good Woman of Setzuan, Shen Te becomes a close acquaintance with the divine beings and is given the obligation of keeping up a decent life when they leave toward the end. The terrible ethical quality in this story is spoken to by Shui Ta. He is wanton and settles on choices just on the off chance that they advantage him and his reason. None of the characters in the play like Shui Ta and its no shock that he is conveyed to court toward the end of the play.

The principal subject, however, is the equalization of these two moralities. Shen Te is given the tobacco shop in light of her goodwill. She rapidly uncovers this goodwill by letting in poor families. Since the divine beings had so much inconvenience discovering a decent individual, we can expect that the greater part of the individuals Shen Te aides aren’t great. Their ceaseless interest for Shen Tes philanthropy demonstrates this. Like most businesses, the tobacco shop can just survive in the event that it turns a benefit. In the event that Shen Te is giving the vast majority of the supplies and space away to individuals who don’t pay, it won’t be much sooner than the shop closes and Shen Te is not able to help anybody. To verify this doesn’t happen, Shen Te makes her change self-image, Shui Ta. Shui Ta deals with the store as a skilled and proficient businessperson. Despite the fact that he couldn’t care less for the needs of the vulnerable, he does administer to the shop and expands its productivity.


Loeb, E. (1961). SARTRES NO EXIT AND BRECHTS THE GOOD WOMAN OF SETZUAN: A COMPARISON. Modern Language Quarterly, 22(3), 283.
Pfanner, H. (1998). The Good Woman of Setzuan. Cyclopedia Of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition, 1-2.

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