Marxism Through Galileo Essay, Research Paper
Marxism Through Galileo
Marxism is a form of communism in which one day the common people, or the proletariats, would overthrow the power of the upper class, or capitalists. Bertolt Brecht, the author of the play Galileo, was a strong believer in this kind of communism. The story of Galileo Galilei, and the time of the inquisition in which Galileo lived, makes it the perfect setting for Brecht to express his communist ideas. Bertolt Brecht s belief in Marxism is prevalent throughout the play Galileo.
The communists believe in economic materialism. This is a concept in which the upper class capitalizes on the work of the lower class. In Galileo, the kings used Galileo s inventions to monopolize for their own profit (scene III, pg. 60). It is also shown in more subtle ways such as when Ludovico refuses to marry Galileo s daughter Virginia because of Galileo s theories about the universe. Ludovico was forbidden to marry Virginia because if the daughter of a bad man sat in [his] family pew, [his] peasants might stop paying the rent (scene VIII, pg. 93). Ludovico s family would not be able to capitalize on the work of their peasants if they doubted their landlords.
Marxism believes that one day there may be a dictatorship of the proletariat. The lower class would overthrow the upper class and rule themselves. Galileo wrote his theories in plain language, and made his findings understandable to one and all (scene IX, pg. 103). Therefore, it allowed the people to create their own opinion on the subject. In the Ballad Singer s advertisement of the paper he talks about a little change, to do just as one pleases (scene IX, pg. 102) instead of serving cruel lords and gentle Jesus/: who bids you turn the other cheek just so /: while they prepare to strike the second blow (scene IX, pg. 102). The Ballad Singer proclaims that obedience will never cure your woe (scene IX, pg.102). Had Galileo not been stopped by the inquisition, perhaps the proletariats would have gotten the chance to do just as one pleases (scene IX, pg. 102).
Another communist ideal that Brecht used was class warfare. In which case, the capitalist class exploits the labor of the lower class in order to keep them in their place. In Galileo s time the common people believed that God relies upon them and that the pageant of the world has been written around them that they may be tested in the important or unimportant parts handed out to them (scene VII, pg. 83). This was the noblemen s most forceful weapon. If someone like Galileo came along they would [tender him] on a silver platter, persecution free, [his] share of the fat sweated (scene VII, pg. 85) from the common people. The noblemen would silence the truth in order to keep control over the proletariats. The Cardinals cautioned Galileo to abandon these teachings because they felt threatened that their place in society might abruptly change if people started seeking the truth. Even the Pope knew that Galileo was greatest physicist of our time. He is the light of Italy, and not just any muddlehead (scene XI, pg. 109). But, in order to keep the peasants in their place they had to suppress the truth. Galileo saved his big gut (scene XII, pg.114) and sold out (scene XIII, pg123) because even he was afraid of the physical pain (scene XIII, pg. 123) that he might endure because of his controversial thinking. An age of reason could have begun (scene VII, pg 111) if Galileo had not recanted his theories. By instilling fear and a sense of duty in God, the church was able to keep control over the common people.
Brecht used all of these Marxist ideals: economic materialism, dictatorship of the proletariat, and class warfare to write the historical play Galileo. His ideas of a communist government were evident in a time where one did not yet exist, at least to the people living in that specific era.