Grave Action: Last Rites in Brecht’s "Mother Courage" and Beckett’s "Endgame"


Against the background of Brecht’s de-familiarization (epic theater) and Beckett’s tragicomedy (absurdist theater), this essay compares scenes of incapacitation and mutilation, of deaths and corpses, shrouds and burials in Mother Courage and Endgame. It places its specific emphasis on the last rites, which, whether granted or refused, relentlessly permeate both plays. This comparison of two exilic plays about loss is based in obvious difference (e.g. in setting, character constellation, and, to some degree, in dramatic intention), as well as in resemblance (e.g. the two playwrights’ shared interest in distancing). Mother Courage and Endgame are marked by the ghostly ubiquity of violence, and portray in complex fashion the human struggle with the barest of realities: death.

Parole chiave

Absurdity, Alienation, Beckett, Brecht, Burial, Corpse, Death, De-Familiarization, Mourning, Tragicomedy

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