Analysis Of Scene 7 From The Life Of Galileo By Bertolt Brecht
The play “Life of Galileo” as the playwright Bertolt Brecht has written consists of the hard work and hard ships Galileo had to go through to prove the Copernicus theory. Galileo believed in man reasons; he believed in how the human brains worked. He portrays himself as valiant risk-taker in this scene. In the chosen section, scene 7 the scene has taken place at Cardinal Bellarmin’s house in Rome, where a ball is going on.
The scene starts from Virginia appearing worried about her appearance and not willing to dance with anyone, the sense fright in her tone leaves the audience curious of why would she seem that way, or it’s not like she has been forced to dance with someone she just doesn’t want to. Also her fiancé Ludovico was with her so why would she be said to dance with someone else? However, it is later exposed that Galileo had an intension behind Virginia to look beautiful, as she was considered a bait in the ball. “You’d better … turns or not” This is a very unprincipled and selfish act of Galileo that he did. This act of him even made the audience think of how low he can think and how could he even display his own daughter in front of everyone like that. This also signifies how much Galileo was in desperate need of attention grabbing, to make his idea and himself stand out among them all. This all is realized by Ludovico as he says “Rome is talking … your daughter” and as he is directing this to Galileo in a very mean and sarcastic way, Galileo doesn’t choose to answer him. The audience sees Ludovico as a possessive fiancé however later he confuses the audience by not taking any actions for it. Thus it can be said that Ludovico understood the motive behind Galileo’s intension which may had made him understand Galileo’s situation.
As Galileo is waiting for his Eminence the Cardinal he makes a conversation with the secretaries playing chess. Galileo demonstrates them what is the new way of playing chess and tells them to put aside the old ways to play it. What is seen is that Galileo always tries to make it a point or has hidden meanings behind what he says, when he says “one has to move with times” he meant that things and theories change, more discoveries will be made however you have to adapt to them with time. So what we as the audience think is that Galileo likes taking risks with what he does and he really wants people to come out of the old rotten box of thoughts and see the new version of things. Also this makes us join the dotes that his new method of playing chess reflected what actually he was doing “let the chief piece roam around the whole board” which is that he went to Rome and to different people to prove what he believed.
Enter Cardinal Bellarmin and Cardinal Barberini. As soon as they saw Galileo they had a curiosity of knowing what his stance was. Galileo believed that the earth and all the other planets revolve around the sun. To the audience Galileo seemed confident of what he was trying to prove even with his new discovery. Plus, with his creative example of the ship and the shore the audience get empressed. Barberini phased Solomon, and both Cardinals strongly object what Galileo believed because they think that’s he is disapproving the god’s ways of making the universe, that the earth is the center of the universe and that the sun and planets revolve around it. We as audience see how both the Cardinals are making fun of Galileo’s believes “Unfortunately …. Like the itch”, we feel bad for him because he doesn’t say anything to offend them.
The play further progresses and Brecht makes audiences experience a tension amongst Galileo and the Cardinals. As they are conversing with each other from the Bible the audience seem to notice that all Galileo is trying to do is trying to explain the authority the facts but they are bringing in the religion and that gods planning can’t be wrong “He that ruleth … taketh a city. ” They wanted Galileo to hide the truth which seems very strange to the audience. Galileo is a risk taker he won’t get worried.
Even their taunt “Are you sure …. Simpler for yourselves?” to Galileo seems unfair and unethical. As audience we see that Galileo is being made the target however Galileo shows his capabilities to answer them. Now when Galileo say that he “believes in men’s reason” he meant that he believed in human brains and how the brains are made by god to explore. He believed in facts. However, Cardinals don’t believe in facts. On this the audience can relate in a way that the facts are true. This shows how both the Cardinals aren’t willing to understand. Barberini, as audience sees him has been very shrewd though out. When Bellarmin says “Think of the …. world of ours. ” Audience see him as reluctant and lazy to accept the change. Facts are never hard to explain. They aren’t just ready to expose what Galileo believed to the world.
They both think that till now everything has been clear and now you come along challenging the higher Being. The little fight over interpreting the Bible creates suspense in the audience, however how both keeps interrupting Galileo when he’s trying to make a point bothers the audience. Here Galileo is seen vulnerable. Galileo is even dragged to a point where he’s been said that “The Holy Congregation …such details” where the audience feel pity for him. It was clearly two against one situation.
Enters the Cardinal Inquisitor. As audience we are curious because of the level of interest the Inquisitor shows of Galileo’s presence, this also makes us suspicious of how did the secretaries know whom the question the Inquisitor ask of. The secretaries looked like spy agents of the inquisitor. Virginia didn’t see the Inquisitor, however Inquisitor stopped her and out of the blue he asks her “Are you staying long in Rome?” which is seen rather unexpected by the audience. Then the inquisitor goes on about how Galileo would need her company back home, which just leaves the audience confused of what is he really trying to say. Afterwards, it is understood that he had hidden meaning in what he was trying to say, “it’s easy to … of the stars” he was trying to say that Galileo has just lost his mind up there in the skies so he needs you to be there for him because science isn’t the best companion. The audience feel bad for Virginia because she was constantly being mocked by the Inquisitor. Inquisitor is shown repeating “great man” few times which certainly doesn’t mean what it means, he’s just saying that in a taunting way and making Virginia think that he likes Galileo. We as audience are suspicious of this act of Inquisitor. Which is later revealed that Virginia very foolishly to gives out the name of Galileo’s confessor because inquisitor kept talking to Virginia charmingly. The audience portrays her personality to be very simple-minded rather than being clever.
Galileo, even after all his cunning and sharpness, had a myopic view of the society. This led him to ignore the warnings dispensed to him by his peers including Sagredo. His belief in logic and proof was so firm that he was adamant that it could not be negated by anyone, and even though he was absolutely correct in believing that, he still failed to see the consequences of his actions. Brecht has not commented on the power of religion and its impact on the society but rather on the authority it gives to the institutions attached to it. These institutions use religion to accomplish goals which are not public. One such institution was the Church which could not allow Galileo to preach freely as they knew that if Galileo started demonstrating his thesis without failing, this would encourage the masses to rebel against the church and damage the existing structures of control. Furthermore, they were also aware of the power of science and reason, backed up by proof, which could convince millions over a short period of time. This conversion meant that all time they spent trying to control the dissemination of knowledge was wasted and when the masses will eventually question them about it, it would certainly lead to their downfall.