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Shreeya Malhotra

ENG 0302

M.A. ENG (F)

The Protagonist of “​ Life of Galileo”​

Brecht in “​ Life of Galileo​” portrays realistic dilemma of the protagonist who is stuck

between the moral obligation i.e. to reveal the “scientific truth” and the religious obligation to

conceal it in order to prevent the upheaval of authority of “Church”. Galileo is presented as a

common man with weaknesses in a vulnerable situation which poses a threat to his life .Brecht

shows the possibility of a scientific discovery with its consequences .In Renaissance a time of

discoveries in which man was centre of the universe there was still undercurrent of each

phenomenon ;Similar to experience before and after the dawn of nuclear age when Brecht was

writing his play and he was able to see the darkside of scientific progress which is used for ill

rather than of benefit of mankind. Galileo in beginning of the play is shown as someone who is

egocentric.He doesn't care about “Milkman’s” payment and he is gluttonous as he gorges on

expense of Church .He is concerned about increment of “Scudi” and falsely presents “Telescope”

as his own invention.Galileo when shows telescope to Cosimi he is concerned with cosmos’s

rather than using it as for military warfare as perceived by delegates;This shows two different

uses with ill and good benefit as “Science is Commodified” by “Capitalist Society”.Galileo’s

Copernican theory will defy the authority of Church; Despite being selfish to his needs he

foresees hypocrisy and corruption of “Church”;Barberini a logical person understands Galileo’s

motives and supports him;The very moment he wears the robe of Pope he becomes
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hypocrite;The Little-Monk who is able to foresee the truth and facade of appearances is

concerned about peasants and poor people who hold faith in church which indeed is factitious.If

Galileo reveals his theory which is “Forbidden Scientific Truth” unseen by “Church” center

gonna collapse as “ question on God’s authority will indeed question the Church .” Ludovico

withdraws proposal to marry Virginia as he is afraid to Galileo will not recant . Copernican

theory makes Galileo’s personal as well as professional life problematic.Galileo’s Theory can

disrupt “ the divine order of things”. He proves with the telescope that “ There is No Heaven and

that the Earth is the Centre of the Universe” . The Inquisition of Galileo was the “Moment of

Truth”,Galileo’s recantation come’s as a blow he becomes “criminal” in eyes of Andrea Sarti;

Galileo is seen as a hypocrite and his belief in religion over logic of science shakes the pillars of

society .Years later when Andrea meet Galileo he hands him “The Discorsi” on which he was

working in secrecy Galileo regains the respect in eyes of Sarti.Galileo reveals he was in support

of “Scientific Truth” always but was fearful of “Physical Punishment” . “The Discorsi”

becomes an emblem of hope with new beginning in society in a foreign land “Truth is the child

of the time, not of authority” . The very lines “Unhappy is the land that needs hero” presents the

dilemma of Galileo in Brecht’s work who neither diminishes nor pedastalizes Galileo as a

“hero” or “anti-hero” in play but presents a realistic protagonist with humane morals and

dilemma stuck in a hypocritical society who is capitalist in nature and only concerned with

authorial power conceived by religious facade .