Brecht’s Thoughts on Heroism

While this play may appear to be a critique towards Galileo himself, given it is called The Life of Galileo, it is actually meant to reveal the skewed political intentions behind science. According to Brecht, progress and science have lost their definition and are being reestablished by the bourgeoisie. As a Marxist, Brecht does not agree with the way in which people praise individuals such as Galileo who are members of the privileged class. As a result of these anti-capitalist feelings, Brecht urges his audience to reevaluate the way we constitute heroic action through the example of Galileo.

Brecht’s production techniques enhance his purpose by passing the burden of judgment onto the audience, as people are left to interpret the play without being lost in theatrical illusions. In light of the present political situations during the 20th century, Brecht wants people to realize the greater moral message of the play. His most important lesson is regarding the concept of heroism, something that seems to belong exclusively to the upper class. The bourgeois class is granted access and opportunities to knowledge that the lower class does not, creating a misconception that these are the people responsible for scientific progression.

Galileo, although a good scientist, does indeed take advantage of his privilege. Brecht is pointing out that somebody at some point sooner or later would have made the same discoveries because they are facts. This connects to Plato and his idea of the forms, as they do not belong to anybody because they cannot be changed, they simply are. Brecht is working for his audience to realize how the global commons belong to specific groups of people and are being marketed to benefit them.

A present day example of a bourgeois self-benefitting action is Donald Trump building the Trump Tower to ‘make more jobs’, when in actuality the tower is most beneficial to him because it will improve his life. Thus, it is inappropriate to consider Trump a hero for taking advantage of his social status.

Ultimately, Brecht presents the Life of Galileo from a Marxist perspective by critiquing not Galileo, but the oppressive class system. Science has fallen into the wrong hands and until people understand this, the bourgeois will continue to capitalize knowledge and take credit for global commons.

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