Brecht’s the Life of Galileo: Upsetting ‘Naturalist’ Theater

November 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

Brecht’s development of epic theatre challenged many aspects of the popular conventions of naturalism and expressionism that were prevalent during his rise to prominence in the 1920s. In The Life of Galileo, elements of epic theatre such as the use of song and verse, and, most notably, the presentation of arguments and reasoning as opposed to emotion and feeling, would have disconcerted an audience predominantly exposed to naturalistic concepts. This is due to the radically different way in which one must observe and react to the drama. In this essay, I will evaluate the profound variances between the conventional naturalistic or ‘dramatic’ theatre, and the new ‘epic’ theatre formulated by Brecht.

Brecht and his contemporaries were exposed to the naturalistic drama of playwrights such as Gerhardt Hauptmann, prior to the development of Brecht’s own practice of epic theatre. Audience expectation included the principle of the suspension of disbelief, whereby the audience would forget they are watching a play and become complicit in the action. Characters were explored and developed in depth in order to connect the audience on a sympathetic level; the morals, sympathies and judgments were handed directly to the audience rather than suggested. This was true of expressionist theatre, which was also popular at this time. Esslin has criticised this style of theatre, as, in his opinion, it seeks to create ‘the maximum impression of emotional intensity by indulgence in hysterical outbursts and paroxysms of uncontrolled roaring and inarticulate anguish’ and included ‘orgies of vocal excess and apoplectic breast beating’ (Esslin 1970: 88). Indeed, Brecht found such dramatic theatre to be lacking in intellectual provocation, and thus wanted to produce a style of theatre which demanded more, mentally, from the audience. Rorrison notes that ‘from the beginning of his career Brecht had fought a running battle against the conventional theatre of his day which he dismissed as ‘culinary’, since, like expert cooking, it delighted the senses without impinging on the mind’ (Rorrison: xxxiv). Indeed, Brecht went on to develop a type of theatre that solicited the audience to make informed and subjective judgments about the issues presented. He questioned: ‘how can theatre be entertaining and at the same time instructive? How can it be taken…from a place of illusion to a place of insight?’ (Brecht 1939).

In The Life of Galileo, Brecht presents a scientific debate concerning the universe; the audience is not expected to identify with the characters, as they are in naturalistic theatre. Indeed, Galileo is a fundamentally non-heroic protagonist, in that we are not privy to his thought processes as one may be in one a Shakespearean character’s soliloquy, and Brecht invites the audience to make judgements on the scientific debate and not to feel catharsis or sympathy with characters. This would be a radical challenge for those used to applying their empathy rather than their reason to their experience of drama.

Unlike the ‘fourth wall’ convention of naturalistic theatre, Brecht used the verfremdungseffekt or ‘alienation technique’ to ensure that the audience was not influenced by their emotions and could make subjective conclusions about the historical account. Certainly, in The Life of Galileo, the characters are rarely explored or presented in a way that would suggest obvious spectator sympathy, as the scenes consist almost entirely of academic discourses and demonstrations; the scenes are representational of historical events (presented for didactic purposes), which differs from naturalistic drama that portrays action to be happening in the present, right before the eyes of the spectators (indented to produce an emotional response).

Brecht’s development of the principle of gestus additionally helps to remind the audience that the actors are not the characters themselves, and are merely accounting for a past event. Unlike the approach expected by Brecht’s contemporary audience, whereby the actor works to identify with their character, gestus is the concept of representing a basic social attitude in a stylized way, which helps to make a point rather than exploiting, on an emotional level, the actor-audience relationship. For instance, The First Secretary replies ‘(mechanically)’ (Brecht 1980: 61); the characterisation is representational of a type of role, as opposed to a life-like impersonation. In Brecht’s productions, ‘no emotional faking was tolerated’ (Volker 1979: 72) and actors were asked to almost narrate the characters’ gestures and movements rather than becoming the character. Smith notes that, ‘by means of gestus, epic theatre draws the spectator away from the well-made play, with its closed forms and consumer ideologies, breaking the play’s conventions open to view and leaving them open at the play’s conclusion. Gestus attempts to energize the spectator to continue the text outside the theatre’ (Smith: 493). Brecht’s intentions are indeed to allow his audience to make their own conclusions of the information they have been presented; the ‘naturalist’ audience would have been more familiar with being spoon-fed a conclusive moral or feeling.

Brecht first developed gestus to satirise fascists, but also ‘probably sensed…that dilemmas facing women, as estranged and disenfranchised members of society, would articulate his own views’ (Smith: 491). In scene 3, Galileo dismisses Virginia’s interest in the telescope, saying that ‘it’s not a toy’ (Brecht 1980: 31), when she asks to have a look. He is then ‘Talking past his daughter to Sagredo’ (Brecht 1980: 33). This demonstrates how Brecht undermines his characters to make us maintain a critical detachment; his inclusion of such obvious sexism (acknowledged in the stage directions) illustrates how Brecht’s Marxist beliefs encourage the viewer to challenge the status quo. Thus, here Brecht demonstrates the injustices of the privileged towards those with less power. Certainly, ‘the success of gestus depends on the production’s sensitivity to context and audience’ (Smith: 494). Therefore, by using this reference, Brecht is suggesting the importance of social change through his epic principles. Although unsettling, such issues raised in this play were of relevance to the contemporary audience. Indeed, through the satirical nature of gestus, the audience is exposed more explicitly to the themes and purpose of the play than the conventional naturalistic theatre.

In Scene 6, the stage directions describe the atmosphere as ‘extremely hilarious’ (Brecht 1980: 50). Pathos may be expected in this scene as, in naturalistic theatre, the tension as Galileo awaits the results of his case would be created so that the audience may sympathise with the character. However, giving it a ‘hilarious’ atmosphere (with the monks comically mocking Galileo) steers away from this so that the audience may make their own judgments about the action without being made to feel a certain emotion. This would have been a peculiar change for the spectators used to the building of suspense and tension that articulates how the audience should feel. Through this, Brecht does not enforce a specific emotion on the observers, so that they may make independent judgments of the action.

In The Life of Galileo, Brecht uses imagery as rhetoric devices, which is further indicative of a narrative in place of a dramatic plot, exploring less into character and more into the issue in the storyline. For instance, in scene 7, Galileo gives the example of when he was young: ‘When I was so high…I stood on a ship and called out ‘The shore is moving away.’ Today I realise that the shore was standing still and the ship moving away’ (Brecht 1980: 57) This simple, yet effective, image that he uses to explain the realisation of new theories and discoveries in the world of science serves as a rhetorical device, aiding Brecht’s argument, rather than the audience’s relationship with the protagonist. It also helps to shift the perspectives of the audience and challenge their fundamental assumptions. This is similarly true of the example of the oyster and the pearl that Galileo uses to describe the significance of reason over faith (Brecht 1980: 66), which would feel, to the audience, more like a stylistic argument than realistic dialogue. Brecht outlines the difference between dramatic and epic theatre as being concerned with reason rather than feeling. Indeed, these images are fluently delivered rhetoric, and therefore less naturalistic, and more of an ‘argument’ than a ‘suggestion’; ‘epic theatre was to tell a story in a way that invited the audience to consider the events involved and then to make their own assessment of them’ (Rorrison: xxxvi) In scene 7, Brecht uses Lorenzo di Medici’s famous poem: ‘this lovely springtime cannot last/ So pluck your roses before May is past’ (Brecht 1980: 60). This reference to Galileo’s limited timespan in which to research his theories portrays the information the audience requires in a stylized way, so that they are being given details of the plot rather than learning more about the thought processes of the characters, which would cause increased audience sympathy and withdraw from a subjective assessment of events.

Additionally, scenes 10 and 15 include the songs and role-play with puppets. The songs are more obviously ‘gestic’ than the dialogue (much like the ‘epic’ demonstrations of fundamental theories presented in comic and infantile ways, such as the apple or the chair demonstrations of the rotation of the earth around the sun) which would have been more unsettling for an audience accustomed to viewing realistic action. It is, however, of particular importance to portray these ‘epic’ moments as the whole play is based on the arguments for and against Galileo’s theories, so must be understood by the audience even if it seems less naturalistic; the emphasis, in Brecht’s productions, was on the audience’s own informed judgement and less on displaying a realistic story. The Life of Galileo, in particular, is anti-emotionalist because the theme of the play asks the audience to use this independent judgment rather than empathy; Galileo’s theories of reason over faith directly mirror Brecht’s theories of the significance of personal reflection over dictated catharsis.

Slide projections and music aid the verfremdungseffekt by commenting on the action itself, so that ‘the audience can take pleasure in taking issue with the commentary. Slides and music, let us say, create a kind of meta-representation of events’ (Stewart and Nicholls: 60) or ‘anti-illusionistic devices to eliminate suspense’ (Rorrison: xxxviii)- for example, when, in scene 3 Galileo’s letter appears on a curtain. An audience used to naturalist theatre would find this unsettling because of the way it draws attention to the illusion being presented. However, ‘to suggest that scenic headings are devices which destroy suspense is like saying that newspaper headlines make reading the stories unnecessary’ (Needle: 201). Indeed, in epic theatre, we need to know the outcome, and with anti-naturalistic theatre we are more engaged with the consciously artificial process rather than the dramatic resolution. By choosing a well-known historical narrative with a renowned outcome, Brecht was left free to experiment with presentation that was less expected by the audience.

Unlike most naturalistic plays of the 1920s, Brecht’s plays, including The Life of Galileo, were presented using a neutral and bare stage, with minimal and representation props and set. ‘The bareness of the stage exposed the action in a cool, unatmospheric space which was intended to counterbalance the relative lack of epic form in the writing’ (Rorrison: xl). Indeed, Galileo, unlike most of Brecht’s work, includes a linear plot with no narrator or third party commentary, making it, in some ways, more accessible for an audience with the expectation of a naturalistic style. However, this unrealistic, representational set forces the audience to acknowledge that they are facing the issues presented in the play, rather than being involved in a stage-world through a fourth wall, which would be a radically different way of viewing for this audience.

Ultimately, while dramatic theory is based on Aristotelian aesthetics that influence the audience to accept things as they are, the Church similarly wishes to preserve the traditional beliefs of the universe. In this sense, Brecht is challenging both Aristotle and the Church with his epic drama and his representation of Galileo’s theories, which both aim to initiate social change. Therefore, Brecht chose the subject matter deliberately as consonant with his theme of reason over emotion. This would have certainly unsettled the expectations of an audience accustomed to naturalism, principally because of the way it requires a didactic rather than an emotional investment in the story.


Brecht, Bertolt (1964) Brecht on Theatre: The Development of an Aesthetic, ed. John Willett, New York: Hill and Wang

Brecht, Bertolt On Experimental Theatre (1939) quoted in Hugh Rorrison’s commentary (1986) of The Life of Galileo, London: Methuen London Ltd. p xxxv

Esslin, Martin (1970) Brief Chronicles, London: Temple Smith, p 80

Needle, Jan and Peter Thomson (1980), Brecht, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, p 201)

Rorrison, Hugh commentary (1986) of The Life of Galileo, London: Methuen London Ltd. pp xxxiv-xxxviii

Smith, Iris (1991) ‘Brecht and Mothers of Epic Theatre’ in Theatre Journal, The John Hopkins University Press pp. 491-493

Steward, Robert Scott and Rod Nichollas (2002) ‘Pragmatic Choices: Teaching Applied Aesthetics through Brecht’s ‘Life of Galileo’’ in Journal of Aesthetic Education, University of Illinois Press pp.50-60

Volker, K (1979) Brecht: a Biography, London: Marion Boyars p 72

Read more

Brecht’s Portrayal of the Real Life Through His Picture of Galileo

November 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) lived in a period when Europe went through the most massive economic, political, and social changes. He witnessed the two World Wars, the revolutions in Austria, Germany, Hungary in 1917-1918, the uprising of Communism in Russia, Fascism in Italy, Nazism in Germany, and the Cold War between the United States and Russia (Geary 2). During the 1930s, the Nazi Party became more and more popular in Germany. In 1934, Adolf Hitler seized control in Germany and became the Fuhrer and Chancellor of the Reich (Gray 90). Brecht, a believer in Marxism and a socialist writer, became an obvious target of the Nazi German Government. When Adolf Hitler came into power in 1933, Brecht was exiled from Germany and his books were under a ban. During his exile from 1938 to 1945, he wrote five masterpieces that established his fame abroad: Mother Courage and Her Children (1939/1941), The Life of Galileo (1938/1943), The Good Woman of Setzuan (1940/1943), Mr. Puntila and his Servant Matti (1941), and The Caucasian Chalk Circle (1944-1945). These plays are slightly different from his earlier propagandist and anti-Nazi works, in which his Marxist views are outspoken. They display human beings’ behaviors and ask the audience to question themselves as to what they would do in a similar situation (Gray 109). In Life of Galileo, Brecht used real historical figures and set the play in the past to distance his audience. Although the play deals with issues that happened in the seventeenth century in Italy, the play is about Brecht’s contemporary time. Brecht historicized Galileo’s life to make his audience reflect upon what they are seeing on stage and to make objective judgments on the characters’ behaviors. He also used the play to mask his political view in order to avoid direct trouble in this politically and socially restless period.

The Life of Galileo is a story of Galileo’s struggle with the Catholic Church, which had all the political power in the seventeenth century Italy. Brecht wrote the play chronologically, beginning with a forty-six year old Galileo. He is a professor in the University of Padua, he is not wealthy, and he lives with his daughter Virginia, his housekeeper Mrs. Sarti, and Mrs. Sarti’s son Andrea. Galileo is trying to prove the theories of Copernicus, a study about the earth revolving around the sun. His findings, however, clash with the Church’s doctrine of the Earth being the universe’s centre. The Church claims that his teaching offends the Church’s proclaimed cosmic order and upsets its political power in society. The Pope agrees to have him investigated by the Inquisition. Although Galileo is eager to learn the truth and to show it to the world, he recants in 1633 when shown instruments of torture. His students despise his cowardice and abandon him. Until the end of his life, Galileo is guarded by the Inquisition and forbidden to write and publish. However, he secretly continues his research, finishes The Discorsi, and gives the book to his former student, Andrea, to smuggle it abroad.

There are three versions of The Life of Galileo: the “Danish” version, the “American” version, and the “Berlin” version. The Danish version was written in 1938 in Denmark and was performed in Zurich in 1943. The plot of the play is more or less the same, but it concentrates on “the struggle between Galileo and the authorities” (Wilson 146). The character of Galileo is different from the American and the Berlin versions in that he is a hero who cunningly recants and accepts the authority of the church so he can finish the Discorsi. Brecht, however, changed his attitude toward Galileo during the Second World War. In 1944, he wrote the American version in collaboration with Charles Laughton, an English actor in Hollywood. This version is shorter than the Danish version, and Brecht changed some incidental characters and altered Galileo after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Galileo, at first a hero who outwits the Inquisition, becomes a coward who betrays his people because he is frightened of physical pain. However, Brecht was not satisfied with the American version. Laughton, who did not share Brecht’s exile and flight experience, eliminated many passages about truth being oppressed in Germany. Brecht said: The more incisive changes in the structure of entire scenes or even of the work itself were made solely to facilitate the forward movement of the action . . . L. (Laughton) treated the “printed text” with a revealing, sometimes brutal indifference that the playwright was seldom able to share. What we created was a script; the performance was everything. It was impossible to persuade him to translate portions that the dramatist was prepared to omit in the production, but that he, however, wanted to rescue for the “book.” The most important thing was the stage performance, for which the text was only the means, the vehicle: the text was used up in the production it was consumed like powder in fireworks. (Stern 137)

Because of his dissatisfaction with the American version, Brecht revised the play with the help of Elisabeth Hauptmann, Benno Beson, and Ruth Berlau in 1953 in Berlin. This version was first performed by the Berliner Ensemble in 1957. The Berlin version, which Hill refers it as “an enriched and refined second version” (113), restored many materials from the Danish version that Laughton had cut, but Galileo’s character remains the same as the American version.

Although The Life of Galileo is a historical play, it does not merely to show Galileo’s life as a scientist. Claude Hill in his book Bertolt Brecht explains, “A dramatist rarely if ever merely aims at total accuracy when he chooses historical material; he must be judged by other criteria” (114). Although the play is set in Italy in the seventeenth century, it is a play about the playwright’s time, not merely about Galileo’s. The emergence of totalitarianism in Europe in the early twentieth century, particularly in Germany, Italy, and Russia, brought a series of political and social changes to the world. Governments were imposing values and restrictions on people in order to keep them under their control. Individuality and freedom were taken away by these governments to achieve a “higher” goal and political ideology. The Nazi government managed to indoctrinate its people to believe that its political and social policies would bring the country to what Brecht called the “New Age” (“Foreword” 213) and Germany would no longer suffer from the economic depression and loss of cultural pride caused by the First World War. People blindly believed and listened to what the government told them to do without questioning the government’s real intention. In the foreword to The Life of Galileo, Brecht said, “And yet these disappointed men may still go on existing in a new age, an age of great upheaval. Only, they know nothing of new ages” (“Foreward” 214). It is clear that Brecht used the play to mirror what was going on in the contemporary world.

Galileo is considered a revolutionary scientist who laid the foundation for the development of scientific research (Britannica). He discovered and proved that Earth did not stay still, but rather revolved around the sun. Even though he had the potential to show “the dawn of a new age” (“Portrayal” 217) to the world, he recanted to the Church and let the people blindly follow the Church’s teaching. People who lived under Hitler’s Germany in the 1930s were in a very similar situation. The public believed whatever the government told them without questioning whether it was true. Brecht says: In these days the conception of the new is itself falsified. The Old and the Very Old, now re-entering the arena, proclaim themselves as new, or else it is held to be new when the Old or the Very Old are put over in a new way. . . . The ‘new’ for example is the system of waging wars, whereas ‘old,’ so they say is a system of economy, proposed but never put into practice, which makes wars superfluous. In the new system, society is being entrenched in classes; and the old, so they say, is the desire to abolish classes. The hopes of mankind do not so much become discouraged in these times; rather, they become diverted. (“Foreward” 214-215)

Through his presentation of the character of Galileo and his story of recantation, Brecht wanted his audience to question totalitarian government. In the play, the Church is afraid that Galileo’s radical discovery will upset its power and change the world’s order. It prefers a more stable world that sustains its authority even though its people would have to live under an illusion. Although he desires to change the world, Galileo betrays his people by admitting that the Church is right simply because he wants to live. His recantation delays the process of scientific development for years. Brecht, a committed Marxist writer, believed that “questioning, a refusal to accept anything as fixed” (Needle and Thomson 79) is necessary to improve human social conditions. By presenting Galileo’s weakness, he made his audiences realize that something else could have been done to alter what happened in the seventeenth century. By the same token, they could also take action to make a difference in their own society.

Apart from showing the image of people being forced to believe those in positions of authority, Brecht also argued that the government’s attempt to suppress knowledge and truth would be futile (Wilson 147). In the first Danish version of The Life of Galileo, Galileo realizes that death or resistance to authority would not make the Church accept his discovery. He recants and the Inquisition believes he will stop his research. However, he continues and secretly finishes the Discorsi. Because of his recantation, he has the chance to smuggle the book abroad, spreading the truth that Earth revolves around the sun. In the end, knowledge and truth win out over the Church’s ideological impositions.

Brecht experienced a similar situation to Galileo’s when Hitler came into power in 1933, and Brecht was driven into exile, all his works banned in Germany (Socialist Review). However, Brecht believed that Hitler’s censorship would eventually become pointless, which is why he kept on writing. Brecht wanted to fight against lies and ignorance and educate his audience of society’s ills. He believed truth would eventually defeat totalitarianism.

The latter version of The Life of Galileo is still about the playwright’s own time. If the Danish version represents the playwright’s society in the 1930s, then the American version represents his society in the 1940s. In 1941, Brecht departed for the United States and he arrived in Los Angeles, where he settled in Santa Monica near Hollywood. With the help of Charles Laughton, he wrote the “American” English version of The Life of Galileo in 1944-47 (the American version is simply called Galileo). Laughton played the role of Galileo in the 1947 Los Angeles premier and in the production in New York later on. The American version is much shorter than the original Danish version. Brecht also changed the character of Galileo by changing his reason for finishing the Discorsi to “more as the result of habit than a deliberate act of defiance” (Hill 116). The reason Brecht changed the motive of Galileo’s recantation was the atomic bombings in the 1940s. In his Unvarnished Picture of a New Age: Preamble to the American Version, Brecht wrote: The ‘atomic’ age made its debut at Hiroshima in the middle of our work. Overnight the biography of the founder of the new system of physics read differently. The infernal effect of the great bomb placed the conflict between Galileo and the authorities of his day in a new, sharper light. (224) It is clear that Brecht wanted to use The Life of Galileo to mirror his time.

In latter versions, Brecht raises the question of the role of science and scientists in relation to humanity. When Galileo presents the telescope as his new discovery to the Venetian court, his student Ludovico, who had told him about this new instrument in Amsterdam, says, “I am beginning to understand science” (Brecht and Laughton 58). Ludovico despises Galileo’s claiming the instrument as his own creation. Brecht thought some scientists would allow the bourgeois to put their research products into any use because this could earn them a decent living. Even though Galileo uses the telescope to let the world see what the earth looks like, the Venetian government uses it in its sea battles with other countries and states. A scientific invention that aims to bring good to humanity becomes a weapon that destroys lives. The atomic bombs made Brecht realize that the nuclear age was also a product of Galileo’s findings because he brought the world to a new “scientific age” in the seventeenth century. He then cast Galileo as a traitor to humanity because he was the “root” of the atomic bomb. In Brecht’s view, the scientists were not aware of the morality behind their research. In a draft for a foreword to the play he condemns those scientists who do not realize their moral values as scientists. Brecht writes: The bourgeois single out science from the scientist’s consciousness, setting it up as an island of independence to be able in practice to interweave it with politics, economics, and ideology. The research scientist’s object is “pure” research; the product of that research is not so pure. The formula E= mc2 is conceived of as eternal, not tied to anything. Hence other people can do the tying: Suddenly the city of Hiroshima became very short-lived. The scientists are claiming the irresponsibility of machines. (“Drafts” 220)

Brecht believes scientists have gradually become a tool of the people who can afford to pay for inventions and research. In the last scene, Galileo says to Andrea, “I surrendered my knowledge to the powers that be, to use it, no, not use it, abuse it, as it suits their ends. I have betrayed my profession” (Brecht and Laughton 124). Scientists, who were supposed to invent for a better life and bring truth to human beings, were inventing dreadful weapons that destroyed lives and were pushing the world to an end because of their selfish needs.

Although it is clear there are similarities between the playwright’s time and Galileo’s time, why did Brecht choose to write a historical play instead of a fictional play? Why did Brecht invent (or reinvent) the character of a historical figure? Eric Bentley, a well-known Brecht scholar, explains: Brecht became interested in the historical Galileo at a time when he was preoccupied with friends and comrades who remained in Germany and somehow managed to continue to work. Prominent in his thoughts was the underground political worker plotting to subvert the Hitler regime. (14-15)

In the first version of the play Galileo says, “take care when you travel through Germany with the truth under your coat!”(Bentley 15). Brecht understood that the only way to express the truth in Germany during 1930s was to hide it. He wrote “Writing the Truth: Five difficulties” before he finished the first version of The Life of Galileo. The five difficulties of writing truth, according to Brecht, are the courage to write it, the keenness to recognize it, the skill to manipulate it as a weapon, the judgment to select those in whose hands it will be effective, and the need of cunning to spread it among the many. Brecht thought that these five difficulties were “formidable problems for writers living under Fascism” (“Writing” 133).

In the essay, he especially elaborates on the fifth difficulty, the need of “cunning” in writing the truth. He lived in a time of oppression where people could not freely tell the truth, in public or private, because they would be in great danger. Even Brecht had to escape his home country because his works expressed a political view opposing Hitler’s government. He said in the essay, “Lenin wished to deceive exploitation and oppression on Sakhalin Island, but it was necessary for him to beware of the Czarist police” (“Writing” 143). Many governments in Europe during that time, especially in Germany, censored all materials that went against their political and social policies. It became extremely hard for writers who wanted to tell the truth to the people. Brecht, however, thought that if a writer applied cunning devices, then “many things that cannot be said in Germany about Germany can be said about Austria” (“Writing” 143). Brecht suggested that a writer could provoke his audience to think about the government objectively by writing a play about other places or areas that share similarities to the contemporary society’s situation. Brecht’s The Life of Galileo, in this case, displays a critical situation that happened in the seventeenth century, with which his audience would be able to make an analogy to their own society. It is only by writing cunningly that a writer can spread the truth at a time when oppression exists.

Brecht thought The Life of Galileo to be “technically a great step backwards” (Kellner 287) because he failed to distance his audience emotionally from feeling pity toward Galileo. However, he used historification, another famous epic technique, to allow his audience to think about Galileo’s situation and actions with appropriate socialistic values. Historification is a playwriting device of setting the action of a play in the historic past to draw parallels with contemporary event (Theatre Dictionary). Brecht often set his plays in the past or in a foreign country, such as The Good Woman of Setzuan takes place in China and Mother Courage and Her Children takes place in Germany’s Thirty Years War. He used this technique to get his audience to draw parallels between the past and the present in order to reflect on the social and political issues. In The Life of Galileo, Brecht set the play in the Catholic Church-dominated Italy of the seventeenth century and told the Galileo’s recantation story in order to express his opinions toward the oppressive contemporary world. He believed that by historicizing his play, the audience would then be able to detach themselves from their familiar environment and hence could adopt a critical attitude toward their society (Kellner 285). By seeing what happened in the past on stage, the audience would be able to suggest what should have been done in the past to solve the problems (Benjamin 8). By making parallels to the contemporary world, they would then be able to see what is going wrong in their societies and what could be done to solve the problems.

Although it was not until the early 1950s that Brecht wanted to change his epic theatre to a “dialectic” theatre (Schumacher 113), The Life of Galileo, which was written ten to twenty years before he theorized his dialectic theatre, showed the nature of theatre that Brecht favored at the end of his life. He demonstrated his political view in The Life of Galileo; and questioned his audience’s political standpoints in relation to their society. The play, however, manages to educate its audience in an enjoyable way. Ernst Schumacher wrote in his essay “The Dialectics of Galileo” that “Galileo . . . is a demonstration, not only in its technique but in its aesthetic essence. It is the ‘merely’ narrative and ‘purely’ demonstrative structure, as well as the appropriately ‘calm’ production of this play that allows us to grasp and enjoy dialectics in the theatre” (123). Brecht skillfully used the theatre as a place to ask people to reflect and feel for what they were experiencing in the society. The Life of Galileo shows how an artist could take a social and political action in a time when oppression existed in the society by inspiring his audience to think and to judge their society critically. This is why The Life of Galileo is still considered as one of the greatest plays in the theatre history even though it was written over sixty years ago.

Works Cited

Benjamin, Walter. Understanding Brecht. London: New Left, 1972.

Bentley, Eric. “Introduction: The Science Fiction of Bertolt Brecht.” Galileo. Bertolt Brecht and Charles Laughton. Ed. Eric Bentley. Grove Press: New York, 1966. 9-42.

Brecht, Bertolt, Charles Laughton. Galileo. Ed. Eric Bentley. New York: Grove Press, 1966.

Brecht, Bertolt. “Writing the Truth: Five difficulties.” Trans. Richard Wilson. Galileo. Bertolt Brecht and Charles Laughton. Ed. Eric Bentley. Grove Press: New York, 1966. 133-150.

Brecht, Bertolt. “Drafts for a Foreword to Life of Galileo.” Collected plays/Bertolt Brecht. Ed. Ralph

Manheim and John Willet. Pantheon Books: New York, 1971. 219-223.

Brecht, Bertolt. “Foreword.” Collected plays/Bertolt Brecht. Ed. Ralph Manheim and John Willett. Pantheon Books: New York, 1971. 213-215.

Brecht, Bertolt. “Portrayal of the Church.” Collected plays/Bertolt Brecht. Ed. Ralph Manheim and John Willet. Pantheon Books: New York, 1971. 216-217.

Brecht, Bertolt. “Unvarnished Picture of a New Age: Preamble to the American Version.” Collected plays/Bertolt Brecht. Ed. Ralph Manheim and John Willet. Pantheon Books: New York, 1971. 224.

Dick, Geary. “Brecht’s Germany.” Brecht in Perspective. Ed. Graham Bartram and Anthony Waine. Longman: New York, 1982. 2-10.

“Galileo.” Encyclop?¦dia Britannica. 2006. Encyclop?¦dia Britannica Online. 10 Nov 2006 <>.

Gray, Ronald. Brecht The Dramatist. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1976. Hill, Claude. Bertolt Brecht. Boston: G.K. Hall & Co., 1975.

Kellner, Douglas. “Brecht’s Marxist Aesthetic.” A Bertolt Brecht Reference Companion. Ed. Siegfried Mews. Greenwood Press: Westport, 1997. 281-295.

Needle, Jan, Peter Thomson. Brecht. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981.

Schumacher, Ernest. “The Dialectics of Galileo.” Trans. Joachim Neugroschel. Brecht Sourcebook. Ed. Carol Martin and Henry Bial. Routledge: New York. 2000. 113-123.

Stern, Guy. “Brecht’s Galileo Galilei.” Exile: The Writer’s Experience. Ed. Ohn M. Spalek and Robert

F. Bell. The University of North Carolina Press: Chapel Hill. 1982. 133-140.

Subiotto, Arrigo. “Epic Theatre: A Theatre For the Scientific Age.” Brecht in Perspective. Ed. Graham Bartram and Anthony Waine. Longman: New York, 1982. 30-44.

Still in the Dark Ages: Mother Courage and Her Children. Dec 1995. Socialist Review. 13 Nov 2006 <>

Theatre Glossary. 2004. FilmPlus Organization. 15 Nov 2006 <>

Wilson, Michael. “Revisiting Brecht: preparing Galileo for production.” Studies in Theatre & Performance 22(2002): 145.

Read more

Galileo Galilei, the Founder of Modern Science

October 21, 2021 by Essay Writer


“I never met a man so ignorant that I couldn’t learn something from him.” – Galileo Galilei.

I think that this quote means no matter how much smarter you think you are then someone they might still know something that you don’t. I think this relates to my thesis because we both of us think you can learn something from anyone. Galileo Galilei was a important person and influential figure in history that had a positive effect on the world because he was the founder of the of modern science.

The Start of Scientific Career

Galileo Galilei was born February 15 1564 in Pisa Italy his father was Vincenzo Galilei and his mother was Giulia di Cosimo Ammannati. Galileo Galilei studied at University of Pisa as well as the University of Bologna when he was studying at the University his father had him go there to study medicine but instead he choose to study Mathematics. In the summer of 1581 Galileo enrolls in the University of Pisa to get a degree in the medical field. In 1585 Galileo leaves the university without his degree in the medical field. Galileo gets a job to lecture mathematics at the University of Pisa.

One of Galileo’s greatest influences was Copernicus he was the founder of the heliocentric, theory. Another person who greatly influenced Galileo was Aristotle who had a theory that everything beyond was smooth, perfect, and eternal but Galileo used his new telescope to see that unlike Aristotle’s theory the moon wasn’t smooth, perfect but instead bumpy and rocky so he began to find more faults in Aristotle’s theory. One thing that started Galileo’s career was that he was a mathematics teacher that had an interest in astronomy. Galileo built his first telescope in 1609. He learned how to make a well functioning telescope. After Galileo published his book Dialogues concerning the Two Great World Systems the inquisition banned it shortly after and order him to to Rome for trial while he was in house arrest in 1634 his daughter Maria Celestia died then he made his final book Discourses and Mathematical Demonstrations concerning Two New Sciences which he had someone smuggle it out of Italy so it could be published in Holland.


Galileo became famous/influential for his telescopes, astronomy ideas, philosophy ideas, and his mathematics. One of Galileo’s accomplishments was making a telescope he used one of them and found some of Jupiter’s moons. Galileo used one of his telescopes to develop the Copernican system. Galileo wrote a book about nature written in math.

Another one of Galileo’s accomplishments were how he discovered that Venus goes through phases just like the moon does. Galileo made a telescope that could magine up to 20 times. He became one of the very first people to look at the moon through a telescope. He used his discovery about the four moons circling Jupiter to as well study Saturn which helped him study Venus’s phases.He created a telescope that could magnify up to 20 times of what the normal telescope could. Galileo gets put in prison for 3 weeks and after his third interrogation he’s put under house arrest.

The world’s now different because of them since he figured out Jupiters stages and discovered the four moons circling Jupiter. His field changed since he made a telescope that could magnify up to 20 times.


Galileo was very hard working so he would always accomplish his work no matter what others said. I can apply these lessons to my life because he accomplished these things because he was hard working so I could be more hardworking. Despite the fact that he shunned for his ideas he still wrote books about them and talked about them even though he wasn’t supposed to. I choose Galileo since he was someone I already knew a bit about so I knew it would make it easier to write about for me.

Read more

Galileo Galilei: Life and Achievements

October 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

My Life

I am Galileo Galilei, and I am an Italian. I am born in the year 1564, 15th of February in Pisa, Duchy of Florence, Italy. My mother is Giulia and my father is Vincenzo Galilei who he is a famous lutenist, composer and a music theorist. I am the first of six children in my family, where only three of my siblings survived infancy. In the year 1572, which I was 8 years old, my family moved to Florence, where I was left Jacopo Borghini for two years and also not long after that I attended the monastery school at Vallombrosa, near Florence. However, due to the influences from my family, I too became an accomplished lutenist myself, being taught by my father since young. I am much grateful for my family, as my parents had made many sacrifices to have me educated just to fulfil my potential and talent that they saw in me, as we are a poor family, but nevertheless a noble family. At my father’s insistence, in 1580, I enrolled and studied a more profitable career, which is Medicine, in the University of Pisa. During this time, I developed and I find myself most fascinated by many subjects, varying from wide range of different kinds of subject, where I grow to be very critical on Aristotle’s teachings and ideas, where I find often conflicting to my agreement or belief. Mathematics have grown to be a part of me, where I find myself very enamoured of the subject which I had decided to take mathematics and philosophy as my profession, even if it’s against my father’s will. In 1585, I left the university without obtaining the degree, and for several years, I gave private mathematic subject lessons in Florence and Siena. However, I did not plan to settle there, I tried to apply for the chair of mathematics at University of Bologna, but result was disappointing. A year later, in 1589, I was appointed to be the chair of mathematics at University of Pisa but my strident criticism on Aristotle’s teaching and idea caused myself to be isolated by my colleagues. It had been a tough 3 years, therefore I resigned and went to the University of Padua to be the University’s chair of mathematics, which also gave me the opportunity to performed experiments with falling bodies for my scientific studies.

My Achievements

As for my achievement, I would like to separate it into 3 different aspect of achievement. First of all, it is my achievements in the Astronomy field. In 1609, based on an uncertain description of the first practical telescope, I was able to develop a telescope that is 3 times the magnification of the first practical telescope and then improving with to 30 times magnification, later being known as Galilean Telescope. In 1605, I was brought to notice that there is a less bright nova occurrence in 1601 compared to the supernova in 1572. Thus, such finding disapproved the Aristotelian beliefs in the immutability of the heavens. On 7 January 1610, I observed and saw 3 fixed stars, totally invisible due to their size, settling nearby Jupiter in a straight line, changing ways. After many nights of my observations, On 10 January, one missing star, allows me to conclude that the stars are orbiting Jupiter, it is the discovery of the Four Main Jupiter’s moon. 1610 September, I observed and discovered the phases of Venus, Neptune in 1612 and Saturn in 1616. 1632, credited with discovery of lunar liberation in latitude, deduced moon is not a flat surface but mountains and crater, conflicting Aristotle claims. In Physics field, my motion studies of bodies are the foundation of Classical Mechanics by Sir Isaac Newton. I too was credited for being one of the first to understand sound frequency, as well as putting forward the basic principle of relativity, which is the central of Einstein’s special theory of relativity and providing basic framework for Newton’s law of motion. As for Mathematics field, my application of mathematics on experimental physics proves innovative.

The Importance of Effort

It is never easy to achieve great achievements, and it certainly does not come at an easy cost. Talent is never enough, effort is the driving force to bring you where u want to be and who you want to be. I have struggled with many restless nights to prove of what I believe and what I stand for, with the little ambition of trying to make the world a better place with my efforts. It may not be the most accurate, or the truest answer, but the hope to use my work to inspire the others to correct my mistakes and improved those which is not enough, the willingness to learn, try and be curios about the truth.


Read more

The Main Achievements of Galileo Galilei

October 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

Becoming a Scientist

Galileo Galilei, conceived in February 1564, was to become the most powerful individual in the logical upset. Everyone knows that Galileo Galilei innovated the first telescope, but no one knows the paths and challenges he had to overcome.

Vincenzo Galilei, Galileo’s father, wanted Galileo to practice medicine and be a doctor. Galileo was enrolled in the College of Pisa to study medicine in 1581. When he was a student at the college, he ascertained that his passion was not medicine. Instead, it was mathematics. He tried to convince his father to leave the college to become a math teacher.

Inventions and Discoveries

Everything went into his favor. His father accepted and he became a math teacher and then a math professor. In 1609, Galileo found out about the spyglass which makes an item looks nearer. Galileo, using his mathematical and technical skills, was able to create the first telescope – which sparked a great revolution in astronomy.

Individuals at this time, after Copernicus in the 1500s, still believed that the planet was at the universe’s focal point. He later distributed articulations that bolstered Copernicus’s hypothesis that each planet in the nearby planetary group circled around the sun. Because of that he was condemned to life detainment by the examination since his announcement was against the catholic church’s tenet. The catholic church accepted that the Earth is positioned in the center of the universe.

One of his most significant revelations is the disclosure of four moons circling around Jupiter discovered around 400 years prior. In addition, he ascertained that Saturn has rings around it. Galileo also invented the military compass which allowed gunmen to elevate cannons more accurately and safely. In addition, the military compass also became a tool of calculation used up to 300 years later.

With his great achievements that have form today, Galileo has been recognized as “The Father of Modern Science” in the scientific community. Another great contribution he did is the development of basic relativity. This helped shape Einstein’s theory of relativity. He also invented a Hydrostatic balance, at tool used to measure the amount of gold and silver. He invented a thermoscope, an object that resembles a thermometer but only detects the changes in temperature.


Unfortunately, after years of his great contributions that helped shape the world today, he died in January 8, 1962 in Italy because of a fever. He is certainly one of the most groundbreaking scientists in the world for a man who fought with the Catholic Church to spread the true words. It made people philosophically think more, and many years later, the Enlightenment Revolution begins to bring about changes Galileo wished for.


  1. Anirudh, and Learnodo Newtonic. “Anirudh.” Learnodo Newtonic, 12 Sept. 2018,
  2. “Galileo Galilei.” NASA, NASA,
  3. Helden, Albert Van. “Telescopic Discoveries.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 28 Oct. 2019,
Read more

Galileo and His Relationship with the Church

October 21, 2021 by Essay Writer


We are constantly surrounded by math and science. We use it without even knowing their true beauty. They impact our lives so much we take them for granted. But this hasn’t always been the case, it had to start somewhere. Over time science has evolved and been shaped into what we learn today. Tons of discoveries and theories have brought us to what we believe today. If we take Galileo for example, from the moment he was born it was believed that he had stars in his eyes (Sis 7). As he grew up, he was more curious than most children, and stars were always on his mind (Sis 9). He studied mathematics and physics and was a very brilliant young man (Sis 9). From there he surprised everyone with his experiments and theories (Sis 11). But science in his life wasn’t always a dream, it was the cause of great conflict. Therefore, due to Galileo’s findings there was tension created between himself and the church, however that’s not how Galileo viewed himself.

The Scientific Revolution

Previous to the Scientific Revolution, science was all based on Roman and Greek theories and ideas (Wilson and Reill). The scientific revolution was a time where there were new ideas, methods, and institutions that were created. People took a new approach to science. They left the ancient Greek and Roman ideas to the ideas of Aristotle and medieval scholastics (Wilson and Reill). During the scientific revolution, the language of science was born. Math was now being used as a way to express new ideas. It was also a way in which things were being proved, therefore everyone was able to understand (Wilson and Reill). Not only was this a time of change, but it acted as a base for many years to come. Galileo, as well as other scientists at the time, were very impactful, because what they created and developed acted as a basis for the following scientist such as; Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (Wilson and Reill).

Galileo’s Discoveries

During his time as a scientist and astronomer, Galileo was very successful leading to many discoveries. Galileo followed his father footsteps, who was a musician. Although Galileo did not become a musician, he ventured off from the standard thing to do, which was going into the religious field (“Galileo Galilei”). He was instructed by his father to follow his dream, which he did. This decision, not only was beneficial for the world and how it advanced, but Galileo received praise for his amazing work and discoveries (“Galileo Galilei”). Galileo was an astronomer who studied the stars and the universe we lived in. In the 17th century, Galileo used a recently invented piece of technology, a telescope. He used the telescope to explore what lies above them(“physical Science”). He used the telescope to further develop his understanding of the universe (Flinn). This was a major discovery during the Scientific Revolution because this meant Galileo had a new perspective when learning about the universe. From there, in 1610 he announced what he had found, which was opposite of traditional cosmological assumptions. He had found that the moon was not a smooth surface as Aristotle had previously claimed (“physical Science”). He observed that like other planets, Earth shinned due to the reflection of light. He also came to the conclusion that like Earth, Jupiter had satellites as well. Lastly, he found out that because of Venus’s phases, the planet does not orbit the earth, but rather orbits the sun (“Physical Science”). To add to the theory that the Earth was not the center of the universe, he learned that Jupiter had four planets. He also noticed that they moved around and therefore thought that their center of rotation was the sun rather than earth. All such findings were published in The Starry Messenger (Flinn). Although he was able to prove his new theory, he wasn’t believed nor accepted by everyone.

The Conflict With Church

After Galileo’s new discovery about what truly was happening up in the stars, Galileo was praised by the public. He was being recognized for everything he shared with the public (Sis page number). This wasn’t received by everyone in the same way. The Catholic church had a lot to say when Galileo came out with these new findings. They were bothered because Galileo’s findings were not inlined with their beliefs. Since he now believed that the earth was no longer the center of the universe, he had gone against the Bible and the church. Since he no longer believed in what ancient philosophers had discovered, he was ordered to stop believing what he had found (Sis page number). Galileo published Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems, Ptolemaic and Copernican (1632). In this book, he was said to have hypothetically argued for Copernican system, which claimed that earth was stationary. He mostly stated that he believed that the earth did truly move. Since that wasn’t believed by the Catholic church, the Pope called Galileo into questioning (Flinn). The reason for being called in by the Pope is followed by a long list. Thinking the sun is immovable and remains in the center of the universe, having instructed or taught people concepts that were conflicting with the church, and addressing the objections from the holy scripture; is just a few reasons listed during Galileo’s case (“Document in the case”). When called by the Pope, they made their statement against Galileo. The following states the reason behind Galileo being sentenced; first off, the theory that the sun is the center of the universe and immobile is unreasonable, philosophically false, and unorthodox because it differs from the Holy Scripture (“Documents in the Case”). Second of all, The theory that the earth is not the center of the world and that it moves daily is absurd because it is philosophically false and incorrect when it comes to religion (“Documents in the Case”). After his session in court, he was sentenced to house arrest for the rest of his life (Flinn). Galileo’s Discoveries lead to conflict in his life, limiting further exploration during the scientific revolution.

The Relationship Between Science and Religion

When being addressed by the church and religious leaders, he didn’t have the ability to convince them of his ideas and findings. At that time the bible was often the only thing that shared the truth. During the scientific revolution, science wasn’t always the answer. People often referred to the bible as well, in order to find the truth. The bible usually referred to thing more figuratively, whereas the scientific theories weren’t. Therefore, they often ended up being in disagreement about what was true. Now, this wasn’t the case when it came to Galileo’s views (Flinn). In 1615, Galileo wrote a letter to the Grand Duchess Christina. Was an essay written by Galileo was to understand the connection between Copernicanism with the teachings of the Catholic church. In his letter, he explained many different ideas on the relationship between science and religion. First off, he wrote that one must decode science by understanding the logic behind god, and why he created the world (“Just What”). This adds to what was stated before, Galileo believed that religion influences the understanding of the world of science. This proves that unlike what the Church claimed, Galileo wasn’t completely against religion and their beliefs. On the same note, Galileo believed that he did not need to believe that the God who gave him all his sense was the one to decide how to use them. He concluded that God doesn’t have the ability to deny what we have proved in front of our eyes (Galileo Galilei). By saying this it shows how religion and science are truly connected but have different purposes. To add to that he believed religion teaches us how to live life, and how one can go to heaven, but they don’t teach what’s happening in heaven (Galileo Galilei). From his many beliefs, he truly is following the church more than going against it. In his letter he wrote, to get rid of our ideas because of a Biblical passage would be contrary to the ideas of the Bible and purpose of the Holy Fathers. Therefore ideas must be interpreted differently (Galileo Galilei). From numerous example of Galileo’s beliefs it’s visible that although claimed by the church, he truly isn’t against the belief that comes from religion. Therefore, we can conclude that Galileo much rather refer to both the Bible and science to find the truth, than make a decision off of one.


In conclusion, we can learn that there are always many sides to an issue. From the beginning, Galileo was always learning and exploring new parts of our universe. But his intelligence wasn’t excepted be the church, therefore this conflict resulted in hardships in his life. Consequently, we can see how the church viewed Galileo. But not only is the churches opinion informative, but Galileo’s views are just as important. Galileo passion towards both Science and Religion further develop his beliefs on both sides of the issue. Thus, highlighting the differences between how the church sees him verse himself. Although religion impacted his life in an extensive way, Galileo remained true to himself. His passion for science was present from the moment he was born, to even the moment he left the trial, when he whispered, ‘nonetheless, the earth still moves ‘(Flinn).

Read more

The Life of Galileo Galilei Through the Eyes of Bertolt Brecht

May 5, 2021 by Essay Writer

Does the trial of Galileo indicate that the church was hostile to new ideas in science? Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) proved to be the first dramatic example of conflict between science and religion. Galileo introduced and correctly explained the idea- what is the acceleration of a free falling object, by doing this he quashed the previous theories of his predecessor, Aristotle.

Aristotle came up with the theory that the weight of an object and the medium through which it was moving determined the downward speed of the object. Galileo, after having carried out numerous experiments concluded that in a vacuum, an object accelerated independent of its weight. He proved this by rolling a ball down a ramp at different angles and calculated the acceleration. He found that the rate of acceleration was constant, according to the equation: a=v/t. Aristotle s thoughts tended to deal with the physical world we live in, Galileo on the other hand was more concerned with an ideal world. The modern age of science began in 1543 with the publication of Copernicus s book On the revelation of the celestial orbs . A key feature of the new science was mathematical reasoning and quantifiable observations.

According to the Copernican model the planets and the earth revolve around the sun, this is accurate although mathematically simpler. One of the important changes taking place was that people began to view the earth as a mathematical structure, relationships were quantative, not qualative as they had been for Aristotle. The scientific Revolution of the seventeenth century owes a lot to maths. Galileo found additional evidence to support the copernican theory, with a combination of theory and experiment, which was essential to his study, this can also be traced back to Archimedes in Ancient Greece. At first the church didn t take Copernicus s theory very seriously as astronomy and maths didn t seem to have any significant philosophical or theological relevance although Copernicus s book was dedicated to Pope Paul III and he received it gratefully.

Copernicus still made use of Ptolemy s cycles and epicycles and he also borrowed from Aristotle the idea that the planets must move in circles because it is the only perfect form of motion. In reality copernicus s book marked a change in human thought. Owen Barfield, in his book Saving the Appearances calls it the real turning point in the history of science. It took place when copernicus began to think, and others, like Kepler and Galileo , began to affirm that the heliocentric hypothesis not only saved the appearances, but was physically true It was not simply a theory of the nature of celestial movements that was feared but a new theory of the nature of theory; namely that , if a hypothesis saves all the appearances , it is identical with the truth. Copernicus s book stated that the earth was not at the centre of the universe with the sun revolving around it, this is problematic for Christians who viewed the Aristotlian image of the earth at the centre as in the bible the sun moves around the earth; Joshua 10:13 And the sun and moon stood still, till the people revenged themselves of their enemies. Is not this written in the book of the just? So the sun stood still in the midst of the heaven, and hasted not to go down the space of one day. It took Copernicus four years to have the confidence to publish the book, he wasn t afraid about how the church would react but how academics would view it. He was afraid because Aristotle s work was highly praised whereas he was introducing a new, unproved system of cosmology which apparently went against the teachings of the bible.

In 1609 telescopic observations of the skies were made by Galileo. After hearing about the invention of a telescope in Holland he built one for himself and what he found were to have major consequences for the Aristotelian cosmos. Using the telescope he saw that the sun is a lump of rock like the earth, not a perfect sphere and he assumed that other planets are the same. He also discovered that the planet of Jupiter had at least four satellites and the phases of Venus , meaning that Venus moves around the sun and not the earth. What he was actually saying was that the earth is just an ordinary planet and that stars must be much further away, or you would see the motion of the earth. Motion is trivial compared to the distance of the distance of the sun to the nearest star and stars are so bright, like our own sun. The problem this posed was that the earth seems to be insignificant physically as the universe is so big, so does this mean it is also insignificant spiritually? Protestants found it very difficult to come to terms with Copernicus and the Catholic church were resistant to change. During the seventeenth century there were many problems for Christians coming to terms with these new discoveries.

A leading Jesuit astronomer of the time, Christopher Calvius was at first skeptical of Galileo s observations but once he saw the planet Jupiter for himself through a telescope he knew what Galileo was saying was correct. The Jesuits then confirmed the theory about the phases of Venus although they came up with the system of Tycho Brahe, which had all the planets orbiting the sun, except the earth. In 1611 Galileo visited Rome where Pope Paul V offered his support, then he returned to Florence where he became obsessed with the Copernican theory and where he discussed, argued and sold the Copernican model at every opportunity. Galileo wanted to convert the public to his way of thinking. Galileo s trial by the Inquisition would not have taken place had he been more diplomatic although Galileo was overly confident and not very tactile.

The church were not totally hostile to science although they did have problems with this particular area. There are also strong suspicions that trial was his own fault, he was insensitive and his book poked fun at the pope. There wasn t a clash of principles but an unfortunate misunderstanding of how galileo had handled the church. Galileo s situation was extremely ironic, he was obsessed with the Copernican model and intent on ramming it down the throat of the Catholic Church yet at the beginning of his campaign he was held in high regards by the church. His views left the church with three options; i) to accept the Copernican model(even though it wasn t properly proven) and to adapt Scripture to this theory, ii) to condemn it, or iii) that the Copernican theory could be accepted but only as a hypothesis until proof could be supplied. Galileo rejected this. As far as the church was concerned the Copernican model was such a controversy as it implied that due to the immensity of the universe, humans might be peripheral to the creation and the fact of biological evolution, evolution changes our view of ourselves(therefore we aren t a special creation).

Several biblical passages were also read as indicating a stationary earth, this wasn t what Galileo thought. Galileo himself knew that he could not prove heliocentricism. He couldn t even answer an argument brought forward by his predecessor, Aristotle. That is, if the earth did go around the sun then there would be a shift in the position of a star observed from the earth on one side of the sun , and then six months later from the other side. This was not answered until 1838 by Friedrich Bessel. Another problem which Galileo encountered was that he was adamant that despite discoveries by Kepler, that the planets orbit the sun in perfect circles. Despite this Galileo sent letters and articles throughout Europe and he was involved in disputes with churchmen which only proved to decrease his popularity among the church. As Galileo was so confident and not afraid to speak his mind he moved his debate from a scientific background onto theological grounds. Had Galileo s arguments remained purely scientific there is no question that the church would have shrugged them off but in 1614 Galileo insisted that he had to answer queries about this new science contradicting certain passages of the bible, some of the bible passages cited are; Ecclesiastes 1:4-6 , the earth abideth forever. The sun also riseth , and the sun goeth down and hastethto his place where he arose.

The wind goeth toward the south and turneth about the north, also Psalm93:1, the world also is stabilished that it cannot be moved and Psalm 104:5, who laid the foundation of the earth, that it should not be removed forever. Also Joshua which I have previously mentioned. The literal meaning of these passages would have to be scraped if the Copernican model was to be believed. Galileo addressed this problem in his letter to the Grand Duchess Christina in 1615. He laid down interpretations of when science theories seem to conflict with the literal interpretation of the scripture. First of all Galileo claims that science and religion are independent of one another, that they have both dofferent goals and are irrelevant to each other, for example, theology is neutral in respect to cosmology and he goes on to describe how these scientific theories should be evaluated by scientific criteria alone. If Galileo had adhered to what he proposed and the church had accepted it, a conflict between Galileo and the church would never have taken place. In December 1614 a Dominican priest named Thomas Caccini held a sermon in Florence which was anti-Copernican and which was a clear attack against Galileo.

One month later and another Dominican, Father Niccolo Lorini, read a copy of Galileo s letter to Castelli and was very annoyed how he adapted scripture to suit his own purposes. He sent a copy to the Inquisition in Rome, slightly altering Galileo s words although the case was dismissed. At this point Cardinal Bellarmine , one of the most important theologians of the Catholic Reformation proposed a face saving compromise for Galileo. In 1615, he wrote a letter outlining the church s position. He said that it was acceptable to keep the Copernican model but only as a hypothesis and if there were real proof that the earth circles the sun, then we should have to proceed with great circumspection in explaining passages of scripture which appear to teach the contrary Galileo was however determined to have a showdown and so he went to Rome to confront Pope Paul V. He referred the matter to the Inquisition and apparently an injuction was sent to Galileo telling him to abstain altogether from teaching or defending this opinion and doctrine, and from even discussing it .

It is debated whether this is genuine or was forged. Sixteen yers later Galileo wrote his famous Dialogue on the two great world systems which began the famous trial of Galileo in 1633. Galileo was summoned before the Inquisition in Rome, he was condemned and spent the rest of his life under house arrest. It is unfair to say that the church has been hostile to new ideas in science. There have been a number of areas where religion has promoted science, for example , Kepler s discovery that the planets orbit the sun in ellipsis. Also Newton s idea that the pull of gravity holds planets around the sun, the Catholic Church have paved the way for people like Galileo and Newton. iv)

Read more

Critical Analysis of Life of Galileo

May 5, 2021 by Essay Writer

The scene 14 in the play specifically depicts the dismal fate of those individuals who attempt to challenge the established status quo in the light of their own rational thinking and radical thoughts. The scene explores the vivid exchanges between Galileo and his “visitor from the past” who strives to “excite him” to such an extent that we see the old Galileo back. With an ardent conversation that follows as they discuss the secret manuscript,”Discoursi”, we see that Galileo lurking from the dark shadows of his present dreary life, who was full of energy with his revolutionary ideas of logic and science. Here, the audience feels relieved and contented that their old Galileo is now back, the present version of him that was passive and subdued cease to satisfy their expectations from him. A man of his time who has guts to challenge not only the revered Ideas of Aristotle but also the sacred doctrine of the church regarding astronomy was no walk in the park. It had its dire implications and an impending destiny, but there is more what made Galileo completely lose hope from his own people. Despite being a “faithful son of the church” Galileo had staunch belief that the church would never abandon him. However his confident came crashing down his feet when the church chose its own egoistical standing instead of a man who spoke the truth with well-founded evidence. From the trial to a threatening punishment of burning in flames if he doesn’t “recant”, this scene explores the Galileo who suffered the severe repercussions of his mistake of speaking the truth and his attempt to revitalize human thinking regarding the working of the universe. By witnessing the miserable fate of the great man of his time, audience may cry their heart out, however Brecht had more in store for the audience. The latter part of the scene explores that Galileo who is his old self again and here the playwright makes the audience optimistic by the fact in the light of determination and the idea that there is scope of human improvement, no authority can make the rational individual diminish his fiery desire of propagating change.

The exchanges between Galileo and his daughter Virginia depicts a submissive and a cowed Galileo. Virginia is seen contented that her father has at last chosen a life of a recluse. She has joined hands with the monk who sits as a guard outside Galileo dwelling and both control his visitors. This is the first betrayal Galileo receives and a dire punishment for speaking truth from his immediate family. These exchanges are short and impassive and here we feel pitied for a man who had suffered just because he chose truth above everything else.

At present, Galileo has forsaken his greatness and have descended in to the dark shadows of his. He has chosen a life of seclusion in order to escape punishment and a dire fate of a heresy. For such a great man, this approach is antithesis to his esteemed ideals and principles and that is exactly what Brecht serves to preach the audience. No one knows, even Virginia who hangs on Galileo like a sleuth that beyond the apparent picture there is more than that meets the eye.

Questioning the church’s authority gave Galileo two options. With the sinister imagery of flames and burning that dominates the play and this scene in particular, execution which is so severe and cruel that it becomes an eye opener for those who dare to question the church. The second option is more than death could offer alone exactly what Galileo chose which made his followers and audience shriek with disbelief. Andrea’s anguish, “ And we thought you had deserted” is totally relatable because he looks to Galileo with so much respect that his move to escape punishment was totally opposed to his greatness. However, the dramatic irony is prevalent in this scene when Andrea visits his esteemed teacher. The scene takes an U-turn from Galileo’s passive writing that were in line with the church’s demands to the ardent depiction of his secret manuscript. By bringing such contrasts, Brecht puts forth the claim that true believers of knowledge and truth would never recreate on the sidelines and will continue to challenge the proposed authority no matter what the consequences of these acts would be.

Galileo’s radical thinking and hypothesis undermined the century old traditions and ideals that were revered and held sacred. People have blindly accepted them because the source was the church. The church had such an unprecedented influence upon people that it had curbed their ability to think beyond what was presented to them. Galileo was an ordinary man with intellect and logic; he seemed not to be satisfied with the church even though he was a staunch follower of it. By making Galileo life an example, Brecht reiterates the idea that in the face of logic and rationality, outdated ideas as no validity because there is always a room for human advancement discovery that has no bounds.

With Galileo’s faltering situation, Brecht makes the audience see that church’s imprisonment have broken him physically and emotionally. By renouncing his views, he lost comradeship with his close fellows and lost his enthusiasm in work. His harsh life seems to impair his eyesight and it was emotionally difficult to work under threat of execution and surveillance. If church wanted Galileo’s life as an example to those who challenge the authority, Brecht has a different lesson for audience. There is no doubt that Galileo’s suffering was poignant and audience feel remorseful however with Galileo’s exchanges with his student we see his underlying zeal amidst the physical impairment as he asks Andrea to steal his manuscript to the foreign country by “stuffing it in his coat”

Galileo’s discoveries were revolutionary and grand but his manner of articulating them was simplistic. He used wooden objects and apples to teach his servant’s son Andrea the real depiction of universe. Even the apple symbolism is present in this scene as Galileo asks Virginia to cook geese with apple. For Galileo apple reminds him of his methods of teachings and his flourishing phase of life when he was cherishing people’s lives with a revitalized and a logical thinking. This is want made the playwright place Galileo on a pedestal. According to him this is the true greatness, and this greatness is further emphasized in this scene. By opting for a life that is even more painful and eminent than death, Galileo lived not only to escape severe execution but lived to make a difference in people’s thinking. Even in the darkest nights when he worked and wrote his discoveries, the motive was solely to bring about change and revitalize people mindset. Andrea’s dialogue, “they give you pen and paper to keep you quiet” is full of irony; his secret manuscript spoke more than his mouth could articulate alone. As his revolutionary ideas found their long awaited escape by getting stuffed in Andrea’s coat and sneaked to the foreign country, church pen and paper could hardly keep him quiet. Brecht invites the audience to live like Galileo, even when the lives are at their darkest phase, a determined individual like Galileo would make use of whatever appears before him to satisfy his quest of change and knowledge. Galileo’s submission did not meant his renouncement from his work, rather he created for himself such conditions that helped him further his work.

Thus, by this scene, Brecht demonstrates before the audience the fact that church attempt to make Galileo’s repressed life as an eye opener for others failed terribly. Galileo’s utter determination was at odds with the life of total abandonment a repressive institution like church sought to teach. Brecht shows the audience that, Galileo, when challenging the church’s teaching was not at rest himself. With his radical ideas propagated through science and logic, his religious views also got challenged. This situation was very traumatic given that he was a staunch Catholic. But for the sake of betterment of his people he was ready to compromise his religious views with open mindedness. However what he didn’t realized that the church was still conservative and was deeply rooted in traditional thinking that it was not ready to compromise on whatever logic is presented to them. Such flexibility was not permitted by the church that controlled people’s lives with their unwavering influence.

Read more

Biography of Galileo Galilei – the Scientific Revolutionist

May 5, 2021 by Essay Writer

Galileo was born in Pisa, Tuscany, on February 15, 1564. He is the oldest son. He and his family moved to Florence in the early 1570s. He attended a monastery school at Vallombrosa. In 1581 he enrolled in University of Pisa where he would study medicine. However he got obsessed with mathematics and decided to make the mathematical subjects and philosophy his profession. In 1585 Galileo left the university without having a degree. For a long time he gave private lessons in the mathematical subjects in Florence and Siena.

During this period he designed a new form of hydrostatic balance for weighing small quantities and wrote a short treatise, The Little Balance. Because of the Little Balance he began studies in motion which he studied for the many years. He applied for the chair of mathematics at the university of bologna but he didn’t get it. However his reputation was growing. He founded some ingenious theorems on centers of gravity. A year later he received the chair of mathematics. Galileo dropped bodies of different weights from the top of the famous Leaning Tower, to prove the speed of fall of a heavy object is not proportional to its weight, as Aristotle had claimed. He was abandoning Aristotelian instead taking an Archimedean approach to the problem. That decision made him unpopular. Galileo’s salary was higher there, he had responsibilities as the head of the family because his father had died in 1591 meant that he was pressed for money. His university salary could not cover all his expenses, and he tutored students privately. He also sold a proportional compass, or sector, of his own type, made by an artisan which he employed in his house. It might be financial problems that caused him not to marry, but he did have an arrangement with a woman, Marina Gamba, who bore him two daughters and a son.

Galileo found out that the Netherlands had an invention that magnifies things from a far and makes it up close. Galileo quickly figured out how to improve it and practiced the art of lens grinding and made some of the most powerful telescopes of his time. In the fall of 1609 he began to study the moon and it phases. He found out that it is not like they thought it is rough and rigid. In January 1610 he found out that Jupiter has three moons and can see more star with the telescope than the naked eye.

Read more

Life of Galileo by Bertolt Brecht: Analysis of the Scene 12

May 5, 2021 by Essay Writer

Galileo Galilei was the man who used science and the telescope to prove to the church that the sun is the center of the universe instead of the Earth.

In Scene 12, we see the arrival of a new pope Barberini which is a plot twist to the drama that is occurring in the play. Since the former Pope is now out of frame, the audience is left in confusion and suspense as to how the new Pope reacts to Galileo’s ideas. In the previous scenes, we learn that Galileo has been accused of selling “pamphlets against the Bible” all around the city. Due to these rumors the Pope would now want to see him which puts the audience along with Galileo in a stressed and uncomfortable atmosphere. Unexpectedly, the Pope defends Galileo saying he “is the greatest physicist of our time.” The audience is pleased but at the same time astonished because the Pope is supporting the facts but going against the church whereas, he is the head of church. Working against each other the Pope and the inquisitor are trying to manipulate each other in believing what they believe. The Pope tries to convince the inquisitor that Galileo might indeed be right however, he changes his mind realizing his position of authority. Thus, the Pope finally agrees with the inquisitor. The Audience is impressed by how the Pope stood for the truth yet still being loyal to the church and the people. He let Galileo “write his book on condition that he finished it by saying that the last word lay with faith, not science.” It was a brilliant idea to please both parties. In contrary, to the new Pope the inquisitor is similar to the old Pope is willing to go to any extend just to prove that the Church as an institution is right. We see this in Scene 8, when the inquisitor talks highly of Galileo with Virginia his daughter saying he is “a great man, one of the greatest” and furthermore when he learns the Virginia knows nothing about Galileo’s theories and instead follows the teachings of the church he confident that she will convince her father to step back. The church is threatened by Galileo therefore, they are willing to take risks.

Similarly, in Scene 12 we see the difference in tones when the Inquisitor speaks about Galileo in-front of the Pope versus Virginia. In this Scene he refers to Galileo as “this fellow” whereas in front of Virginia he praises him and gives him respect. The inquisitor mocks Galileo’s book by saying “His book shows a stupid man representing the view of Aristotle.” This shows how eager the inquisitor is to gain the Pope’s support to prove Galileo wrong. The inquisitor who happens to represent the ideas and views of the church is concerned about Galileo’s point of view. If the common people paid more attention and understood Galilee’s theories they would eventually walk away from the belief of the work of God. Galileo being the brave soul that he is chose bring forward the truth about the facts of Astronomy which other scientists have been holding to themselves due to the fear of the Church. The truth can make a difference whether it is good or bad but that can change the way someone thinks. The only thing holding back the truth from being exposed is the fear of the consequences that comes with it.

In addition, Scene 12 shows the comparison between the old and the new Pope because the new Pope is more open minded towards Galileo’s theory whereas, the old Pope wanted to prove that without a doubt Galileo’s idea was wrong because of the fact that he didn’t have a position of power. The audience feels that in the eyes of the old Pope power justifies whether a person is right or wrong regardless, if in reality it is true or not. Since, Barberini- the new Pope is the leader of the Christians responsibility comes with it. He would have to make the right decision which would make the people’s faith strong. But, instead it is clear through the conversation between the inquisitor and the Pope that it is politicized. We also learn that Barberini has a different perspective about science than the church.

As the audience learns in Scene 7, Barberini confirms that he “once studied some astronomy.” Thus, the audience realizes his purpose of saving Galileo in scene 12. This gives the audience hope that this may help to change the traditional views and understanding of the church so they may approve of Galileo’s hypothesis just like they had approved of Aristotle’s. Science and Religion are two subjects that are oppose each other. Science is based on facts and religion is based on belief. And we see this in Scene 12, where the Pope is supporting the subject of Science whereas the inquisitor is encouraging the religious point of view of the topic.

Scene 12, prepares the audience for the clash between religion and science in other words the Church and Galileo. The audience experiences a rush of rising anxiety and suspense as to where this meeting will lead. The purpose for Brecht to put Scene 12 in the play is to show the different perspective of Galileo’s theory from the point of view of the church. In conclusion, the addition of this scene is to make the plot more developed and interesting. The audience is engaged in this plot because due to this scene now they know both sides of the argument and wonder what will happen when both the sides clash. The scene leaves the audience excited yet uneasy.

Read more
Order Creative Sample Now
Choose type of discipline
Choose academic level
  • High school
  • College
  • University
  • Masters
  • PhD

Page count
1 pages
$ 10