CAUCASIAN CHALK CIRCLE By Bertolt Brecht


CHARACTER AND CHARACTERISATION

MICHAEL ABASHWILI

noble child

Michael Abashwili is the heir to the throne of the governor. His mother Natella Abashwili shows cold love to him but realizes how important Michael is. The governor had entitled his estate to Michael.

Lovable/salient

The kid makes Grusha fall in love with him. Grusha feels an intense attraction towards the kid that she cannot leave him behind to die.

Adorable/vulnerable

Grusha sees how helpless the child is and feels an obligation to look after him. She yearns to be of assistance despite the risks involved.

Insistent/domineering/ambitious/adamant/influential

Even when he couldn’t speak Michael has a pull around him. When Grusha tries to pull herself from him, she finds it hard. While playing with kids he refuses to play his role as the governor and wants to be the one who cuts the Governor. Given he is the youngest, the other boys reluctant lets him have his way showing how influential Michael really is.

CAUCASIAN CHALK CIRCLE by Bertolt Brecht


CHARACTER AND CHARACTERISATION

GEORGE ABASHWILI/ THE GOVERNOR

governor
PHOTO courtesy

He is the wealthiest Governor in Grusinia. He is the brother to Arsen Kazbeki-the Fat Prince. He has a child, Michael with his beautiful wife Natella.

CHARACTER TRAITS

Salient/withdrawn/disconcerted

The governor does no say much. He speaks less and seems unconcerned with things around him. Moreover, he concerns himself with trivial issues like why the Fat Prince wished him a happy Easter. He fails to recognize the presence of a messenger.

Arrogant/insensitive

The Governor does not recognize the value of good leadership. He is very insensitive to the needs of the people. He doesn’t care about the welfare of the people. “The water inspector takes bribes…”(pg14) But all their petitions fall on the deaf ear of the governor. A man whose responsibility is to look after the welfare of the people acts as though he is in a strange land.

Hypocrite/self-satisfied/possessive

The governor goes to church on the Easter Sunday. From what we see it is more of a ritual than a religious man. As can be seen in the singer’s words, the man was more interested in displaying the young Michael Abashwili than in listening to the cries of the many petitioners. He was more interested in meeting the architects than in hearing the poor messenger. He puts his welfare before the needs of the many. He represents a cluster of leaders who traverse the roads promising good fortunes only to turn and become the most corrupt leaders who give handouts in schools and gatherings like biscuits.

Discerning/selfish/megalomaniac/corrupt

He cuts his wife out of the will and writes all his property under Michael. By the standards of his wealth and uncaring demeanour, it is safe to argue that he had a self-confidence that through his immense power, there was no soldier who would go against him. He was surprised to come into contact with bitter betrayal when the loya Ironshirts turned against him.

Having vast amounts of wealth in a society of so many beggars begs the question on the governor’s integrity. He was dirty and power hungry that he felt no pity staring in the eyes of hungry children on begging skinny mothers.

CAUCASIAN CHALK CIRCLE


CHARACTER AND CHARACTERISATION

SIMON SHASHAVA

SIMON

 

Simon is a soldier of the Palace Guard. He is apparently in love with Grusha Vashnadze, he becomes engaged to Grusha but instead Grusha gets married to Jussup . He is loyal to Governor Georgi Abashwili.

CHARACTER TRAITS

Loyal/patriotic

Simon remains loyal even when the Ironshirts stage a coup against the Grand Duke and his Governors. He promises Grusha that, after he is done with his duty of securing the Missus, he would come back for her (pg23). He fights for his country even though he could have gone safely to the Northern Mountains with Grusha. He only comes back when the war is over (pg60).

Brave/survivor/committed

As a soldier Simon displays his thirst for blood, instead of running away with a girl he loves, he lives her a promise and goes on to war. He braves the winter and makes sure that he survives to come back to his beloved (pg61).

Tactical/wise/resilient

He makes sure that he remains alive by fighting tactically. He is not too ambitious to fight at the front neither is he timid to remain behind. He however, plays it calm to stay alive.

He wisely engages Azdak into a game of wits using proverbs. Though Azdak is equal to the task, Simon hits below the belt earning him a contempt of court charge (pg94).

Loving/forgiving/Understanding/Supportive

He shows his liking to the kitchen maid. He goes further and proposes to her. Moreover, he strives to live to his promise and sure enough goes out in search for her until he finds her. Meanwhile, despite the fact that she betrayed him, he finds reason to forgive her and stand by her during the trial in Nuka.

CHARACTER AND CHARACTERISATION


THE CAUCASIAN CHALK CIRCLE

FAT PRINCE, Arsen Kazbeki

FAT

 

He is the brother to Georgi Abashwili the Governor. He orchestrates the coup that sees his brother beheaded.

CHARACTER TRAITS

Ambitious/ruthless

He is so eager to get into power that he organizes the killing of his own brother. The manner in which the governor is beheaded shows that the Fat Prince doesn’t give a damn about how his brother dies. He cares less on the wellbeing of the governor’s son that he orders for the killing of Michael Abashwili too.

Mean/inhumane/ uncaring/sadistic

Instead of giving his brother a decent burial he lets the Ironshirts hang him like a traitor to instil fear in the people of Grusinia. Furthermore, he cares less on what should happen to Michael who is only an infant. He tells his nephew that, in this time of chaos, they were acting cool may be in the guise so that the Ironshirts and the masses could help them capture the Grand duke.

Crafty/cunning/scheming/overconfident

He plans the governor’s execution and orchestrates it when no one is expecting it. He also plans to influence the ironshirts so as to install his nephew as a new judge. However, his overconfidence falters when Azdak is chosen over his nephew.

Domineering/opportunistic/corrupt

He compels his unwilling and untutored nephew into taking the Judge’s seat (pg72). According to the nephew’s deliberations, I is safe to say that he was under instruction from the Fat Prince.

Despite being wealthy, the Fat Prince’s ranch is a no go zone. Shauwa warns Azdak that he would be detained for killing rabbits in the farm

In the play within a play where Azdak plays as the Grand Duke, it is evident that the Fat prince is displeased by Azdak’s accusations. He is apparently corrupt given that he hides in the lie that Azdak was talking like a carped weaver (Pg74).

Hypocritical/conniving/conspiratorial

The night he talks about the rain, is suspicious given that it had not rained. The Governor is disturbed but he is bought by the surprise that the Fat Prince had wished him a happy easter. This indicaes the devious plans the Fat Prince had put in place to assassinate and eliminate the Governor from power.

If Azdak’s accusations are anything to go by, then we can comfortably believe that, instead of peace the Fat Prince is vouching for war given that they embezzle much of the resources that had been allocated for war.

Finally, he believes in his influence and hopes to reap maximumly from it when the Ironshirts officially rubberstamp his nephew into the office as a judge.

THE CAUCASIAN CHALK CIRCLE


CHARACTER AND CHARACTERISATION

AZDAK

Mansfield_Old
AZDAK AT WORK (Photo Courtesy of mansfield)

Azdak was a village scrivener. He housed the Grand duke masquerading as beggar. He thought that the beggar was a genuine one. After realizing what he had done, he detains himself and commands Shauwa to take him to Nuka for trial. While in Nuka, he ends up being appointed as a judge after the reigning judge was killed by the carpet weavers. Azdak is loved by the peasantry for how he executes justice. However, the rich, who have always known justice, are not happy with how justice is passed.

CHARACTER TRAITS

Shrewd/cunning/insightful

Azdak steals the Fat Prince’s rabbits and when asked, he says that the rabbits are weed eaters and must be exterminated (pg65).

He furthermore teaches the Grand duke on how to eat like a beggar, and not like a landowner. Moreover, he detains himself for housing the Grand duke.

Azdak also takes bribes openly and gives a verdict according to what he believes in. He runs the system according to the existing status quo but administers justice in a manner that is contrary to the expectation of the rich and powerful.

Intelligent/Wise/learned/witty

He knows he has the right on his side that is why he takes the Fat Prince’s rabbits knowing fully well that no harm shall come to him.

He knows the history of wars and narrates to the Ironshirts what happened in Persia.

He operates as the village scrivener because he knew how to read and write. The whole village depended on him because of his writing skills.

In his witticism he stages a mock trial in order to evaluate the new Judge Prince Kazbeki had appointed. Knowing fully well that it was just a mock trial, he spills the beans on the corruption that was surrounding the ongoing war. He accuses the princes for swindling the money that was meant to buy provisions for the war and many other vices.

Honest/law-abiding/humane/considerate/patriot

Azdak shows his honesty by detaining himself and confessing his sins. He is ready to accept his punishment however, he learns that the judge had just been assassinated by the rioting carpet weavers.

He does not keep the truth from coming out. He accuses the princes for pilfering war resources. (pg74).

Azdak has the heart to offer the beggar some food and a place to sleep. He also weighs the situation and considers that it would be safer to not let Shauwa know about the the beggar in his house.

Brave/courageous/outspoken

He showcases his bravery by crossing the boundaries. While other people are afraid of getting into the Fat Prince’s farm, he goes on to even steal the rabbits belonging to the Fat Prince.

He is not afraid to say the things he says before the Fat Prince. Despite knowing how grave the accusations are, Azdak goes ahead and accuses the princes for benefitting from the war.

The Ironshirts are awed by the way Azdak speaks, they ask him whether he knows what was really going around (pg70).

Level-headed/incorrigible/just/accommodating/kind-hearted/open-minded/humble

No other judge in Grusinia was a great as Azdak. Despite the fact that he spent more time drinking than solving the cases, Azdak displays a maturity that had never been seen before. Regardless of the fact that he sits on the book of law, he has reason to salvage the remaining dignity of natural justice and bring justice to the town which aristocracy had been the major decision maker.

He humbles himself before the Granny Grusinia and offers her a chair to sit own while he, a whole judge sits on the ground. Despite the heavy corruption surrounding him, Azdak manages to at least see through the lies of the mighty and rich to steal justice from the innocent peasant who suffered under heavy taxes and brutal aristocratic hand.

THE CAUCASIAN CHALK CIRCLE


CHARACTER AND CHARACTER TRAITS

NATELLA ABASHWILI

(c) National Trust, Tredegar House; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

She is the wife of the late Governor Georgi Abashwili. The couple have a child called Michael Abashwili who is the apparent heair to the throne.

CHARACTER TRAITS

Proud/beautiful/boastful

Natella is careful to pack her most expensive dresses. She also takes keen interest in the shoes she wants so that they can match with the clothes. This puts the workers at risk given the raging war. The singer describes her as beautiful

Bossy/brutal/ungrateful/self-centered/egocentric

She bosses the servants around with little regard to their wellbeing. She in fact slaps one of the servants for not following her orders. In most of her conversations, she talks about herself. “I have got the most terrible headache…” (pg24) Despite the chaos she needs much of the attention directed towards her imagined and unimagined illnesses. Moreover, she dwells much on finding her belongings forgetting that the child’s belonging should come first. Even further, Natella rides of with her carriage full of clothing leaving the child behind

Attention-seeker/unlovable

From the spectacle at the entrance to the church, we see Natella using the child to get the attention of the Governor (pg15). Furthermore, we learn that the governor has tied all his wealth in the name of Michael Abashwili. This means there was no love lost between the governor and his wife. To add insult to injury, Azdak does not seem to like the power wielding governor’s wife (pg98).

Ambitious/lazy/dependent/uncaring/cold/distant/cruel

She is very ambitious, a kind of a lady who follows the mighty for the power they wield, she enjoys the power she wields as the late governor’s wife and that is why she faints when that power is taken from her.

She is lazy, cold and distant that she cannot even hold her own child in her own hands as a mother. Her cruelty denies her the wealth that had been written in the name of Michael Abashwili.

(c) National Trust, Tredegar House; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
(c) National Trust, Tredegar House; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

THE CAUCASIAN CHALK CIRCLE


CHARACTER AND CHARACTERISATION

GRUSHA VASHNADZE

USE IT
GRUSHA to the Northern Mountains (photo photographium.com)

Grusha was a Kitchen maid in the governor’s palace. She is engaged to Simon Shashava but ends up marrying Jussup- a dying man to conceal the identity of Michael Abashwili. However, she reunites with Simon during the trial which is presided over by Azdak.

Character traits

Hardworking/loyal/ faithful/steadfast/honest

Grusha portrays the image of a hardworking servant. Acording to Simon Shashava, the young lady is occassionaly seen down the river washing linen. Furthermore, when she is called to go and bring the the goose, she wastes no time. Moreover, she is honest enough to tell Simon where she had been and why. When Simon finally finds her in the Northern Mountains, she openly admits that she is married. Besides, she had struggled to keep to her fidelity waiting for simon but Jussup was too suspicious forcing her to relent for the sake of Michael.

Loving/humane/selfless

Grusha, through her love for Simon, promises to wait for him (pg23). In her humanity, she takes Michael with her knowing the risk she was putting herself into. She uses her entire savings to buy milk on the way despite him not being her child. She puts herself in harm’s way when she hits an ironshirt with a plank of wood. Furthermore, despite its dangers, Grusha crosses the broken bridge

She is not done yet because, when she is received cold by her brother, she decides to do what she thought was best for Michael. She marries a dying man –Jussup- who after the war rises from the dead miraculously to claim Grusha.

Lastly, in a court in Nuka, she confronts Azdak and also has a heart enough never to fight for Michael knowing pretty well if she had done it, then, she could have torn Michael into pieces.

Courageous/Fearless/suspicious/instinctive

Grusha displays her courage when she hits the Corporal, grabs Michael and runs away. She also crosses the rotten bridge across the chasm despite the huge risk she is subject to.

Her suspicion proves right when she meets the Ironshirts. She realizes that she is the only one who can take good care of Michael despite her being unmarried.

She bravely confronts Judge Azdak before the court prompting her being charged with contempt of court.

Furthermore, she knows fully well that Michael is not her child but she puts on a spirited fight to claim the child. Her courage however pays up when Azdak gives the child to her.

Sentimental/religious/Loyal

She holds on to the silver chain Simon gave her even after she got married to Jussup. Secondly, she tells Shashava that she fought for Michael because she found the child the day they got engaged. That is she puts sentimental attachment to objects given to her by her lover. Furthermore, she sings a song of the Center (pg 47) for her lover in war.

Though she is not as religious as her sister in-law, Grusha obeys the religious laws and that is why she baptizes Michael Abashwili when she adopted him. Secondly, she obeys her brother’s suggestion to marry the dying man so that the child may have legal papers. She does so for the safety of Michael and also not to taint the religious image of her brother and attract whispers from the community.