Thesis

Tracing the evolution of Bertolt Brecht's play Round Heads And Pointed Heads: the Shakespeare connection

This thesis suggests that Bertolt Brecht's play, Round Heads and Pointed Heads, has been underserved both critically and theatrically. Although it evolved from a previous attempt Brecht made to adapt Shakespeare's play Measure for Measure, there has been little scholarly discussion of Round Heads and Pointed Heads in light of its Shakespearean original. It is the intention of this thesis to revisit Brecht's play and argue that a comparative analysis of the two plays serves to rescue Brecht's play from its reputation as a failed Nazi satire and a na'ive Marxist account of the rise of fascism in Germany. This thesis also proposes that a study of Brecht's early, incomplete attempt to adapt Measure for Measure, which exists in the Bertolt Brecht Archives in fragmented form, strengthens the link between Round Heads and Pointed Heads and Shakespeare's play. I have included a working translation of these manuscript pages, which comprise the appendix to this thesis. Identifying Round heads and Pointed Heads as Brecht's final, free adaptation of Measure for Measure encourages a critical re-evaluation of the play, rescuing it from its reputation as an anti-Hitler satire and resurrecting it as a complex and sophisticated political parable with multiple implications.

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