Three Penny Opera

Here are some possible essay questions.  Choose one.  You are allowed to come up with your own question, but be sure to clear it with me first.  Essays should be around five pages (not including the bibliography).  As with the essay samples that I have included on Brightspace, you do not need a title-page; instead, you just need to include your name, your student number, the course number, my name, your TA’s name, and the date in the top right hand corner of the first page.  Your essay should have a title that reflects not only your topic but your argument about that topic; an introductory paragraph that introduces your topic, suggests how it will be approached in regards to the text, and closes with a clear and specific thesis statement; supporting paragraphs organized around points that support your thesis and that open with a strong topic sentence; specific evidence from the primary text itself; and a strong conclusion that reinforces your thesis and suggests something about its wider implications.  The essay samples on Brightspace are very clear in regards to what I am looking for, so be sure to look over these before and while writing.  Be specific, be organized, and be sure to make good use of the text when making your case.  When it comes to quoting from the text, be sure to comment on the quotes you use and incorporate them into your larger argument.  If you have any questions while writing your essay, or if you would like me to look over a draft of your essay, please let me know.

  1.  How does Brecht explore the corruption of society and the brutality of humanity?  How does he tie these to capitalism?  To what ends?
  2. Describe the thin (or even non-existent) line between the lawful and the unlawful in the play, and the possible reason(s) for why this is so.
  3. How does Brecht dramatize the struggle between the demands of self-interest and the duties of love?  To what ends?
  4. How does Brecht explore (and satirize) such themes as morality, immorality, and amorality?  Likewise, in what ways are moral righteousness, moral arbitrariness, and moral ambiguity prominent in the play?  To what ends?
  5. As a Marxist, Brecht was highly critical not only of the modern world but of the middle-classes and of the capitalist system more widely.  How are the flaws and crookedness of capitalist society explored in the play?  To what ends?
  6. As a dramatist, Brecht was heavily intrigued by the dramatic (and political) possibilities of exploiting irony on the stage.  Discuss.

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