“Galileo” or “Life of Galileo” is a play by the German dramatist Bertolt Brecht that was first shown on September 9th, 1943. The play was published in 1940. The original showing was held at the Zurich Schauspielhaus in Germany. The cast included Leonard Steckel (who was the directed as well as the actor playing Galileo), Karl Paryla and Wolfgang Langhoff.
After the initial success of the play, an English version was produced and premiered in Los Angeles on July 30th, 1947.
The play follows the life and career of the sixteenth-century Italian astronomer, Galileo Galilei. Throughout the play, he struggles to bring his theories to the Italian masses. Galileo discovers that the earth must revolve around the sun because he witnesses four moons revolving around Jupiter through his newly invented telescope. Though the Vatican initially agrees with this theory, they later deny it and the famous Inquisition questions Galileo and threatens him to recant his theories.
Though he does so, he is still put on house arrest for the rest of his life. In the end, Galileo manages to publish several new theories by writing them in secret and smuggling them out through a student.
The book begins with the words: “In the year sixteen hundred and nine, Science’ light began to shine. At Padua City, in a modest house, Galileo Galilei set out to prove, The sun is still, the earth is on the move.” Galileo is in his scantily furnished study when his housekeeper’s son, Andrea enters with a big astronomical model. Galileo asks the boy where he got to model from, and Andrea tells him that it was brought by the coachman. The box said, “From the Court of Naples.”
Galileo scoffs that he does not want the Court’s presents. He says that the model is a map of the sky according to the wise men of ancient Greece. He says they will try to sell it to the university where they still teach this old model. Andrea asks him how it works he says that he should know since he is Galileo’s student. Agreeing, Galileo begins to explain how the model works. He says that there are eight crystal globes with metal rings and words painted on the band. In the center of the model is the planet earth. Galileo tells Andrea that for 2000 years man has chosen to believe the sun and all the host of stars revolve about the earth.
Andrea can’t help but notice that design of the solar system makes the earth seem like a cage. Galileo agrees and says that he thinks that the ships spreading out all over the ocean are the ones that spread this idea. He tells a story about when he was a young man in Siena. He was watching a group of masons argue over raising a block of granite. One of them wanted to try a new arrangement of ropes, and this resulted in a method that had been used for thousands of years being thrown out. “The millennium of faith is ended, said I, this is the millennium of doubt.”
Galileo wonders if astronomy is soon to become nothing more than gossip. Andrea says that he can see the sun comes up in one place and goes down in another. Galileo sits him down and through the usage of an iron washstand, demonstrates how the sun revolves around the earth. Andrea’s mother Mrs. Sarti comes in with a glass of milk and wonders what Galileo is doing. Andrea laments that his mother does not understand astronomy. She tells Galileo that he is filling her sons head with strange ideas. Galileo sarcastically tells his housekeeper that they’re on the threshold of a new era. She wonders if this will mean that they can pay the milkman. Mrs. Sarti tells Galileo that a young well-dressed gentlemen is here for lessons she urges him not to frighten the man away like he did the others.
Mrs. Sarti scolds her son for finagling free lessons out of Galileo. Galileo warns Andrea not to talk about his theories about the Earth revolving around the sun outside as he worries that the authorities will not like it. Andrea asks why they will not like it if it is the truth. “Because we are like the worms who are little and have dim eyes and can hardly see the stars at all, and the new astronomy is a framework of guesses or very little more – yet.” Mrs. Sarti shows in a man named Ludovico Marsili. The young man introduces himself to Galileo and gives him his letter of recommendation. Galileo tells him that lessons will be 30 scudi a month.
Ludovico till Galileo that he doesn’t much understand science and he points to the astronomical model telling him that he wants saw an instrument like that in Amsterdam but it didn’t make sense to him at all. Ludovico then describes an instrument that he saw in Amsterdam that sounds like a rough description of a telescope. He says that the idea was to see things five times as large as life. Galileo asked him what type of things he would see larger. Ludovico answers with all sorts of things and anything at a distance.
Galileo asks a few more questions about the instrument and then draws a rough sketch of what it looks like. Ludovico approve the sketch. Galileo seems to have never heard of such a thing and asks if it’s a recent invention. Ludovico tells him that they only just started peddling them out on the streets before he left Holland. Since Ludovico told Galileo that his main interest was horses, Galileo asks him why he doesn’t just breed horses instead of trying to meddle in science. Ludovico tells him that his mother is set on the idea that science is necessary nowadays for conversation. Galileo laughs and tells him that he’ll probably find Latin or philosophy easier but that he will see him on Tuesday afternoon. Ludovico leaves on good terms.
After he leaves Mrs. Sarti tells Galileo that the curator of the museum is here to see him. Galileo and Mrs. Sarti exchange a sarcastic back-and-forth before he tells her to show the man in.
When the curator is shown in Galileo ignores his greeting and asks him for a scudo. He takes the money and goes to the window, wrapping the coin in a piece of paper on which he has been scribbling. Outside the window, Andrea waits. Galileo throws the money down to him and asks him to run to the spectacle maker and bring him to lenses with the measurements that he has scribbled down.
The curator tells Galileo that he has come to return his petition for an honorarium. He says he is unable to recommend his request. Galileo wonders how he supposed to make ends meet on only 500 Scudi. The curator asks Galileo if he still doing private studies Galileo tells him that his particular science is on the threshold of important discoveries and throws a manuscript on the table. He tells the curator that these are his findings on the laws of falling bodies. And says they should be worth at least 200.
The curator tells him, coolly that if he wants to money and leisure he should go to Florence but eventually he would be for bidden to think in the name of the Inquisition. He suggest that Galileo try inventing something that will make the city elders and businessman some money. At first Galileo scoffs at the idea. But then he looks at his sketches for the telescope and says that he may have an idea: Galileo and the curator part as friends. Andrea returns bringing the lenses. He tells Galileo that the money was not enough and he had to leave his cap with him before he was allowed to take the lenses away. Galileo tell him he’ll get it back eventually and asked for the lenses. He takes them over to the window, holding them in the relation they would have in a telescope.
Andrea asks what the lenses are for and Galileo tells him it’s something for the Senate. He tells Andrea to look through the lenses and Andrea is shocked to see that things look very close and that he can see things across town as if they were right in front of him Galileo exclaims triumphantly.
Scene two takes place in the ‘Great Arsenal of Venice’ overlooking the harbor full of ships. Galileo is there with his young daughter Virginia and his friends Segredo. Virginia carries a velvet cushion on which lies a brand new telescope. They are surrounded by senators and officials as well as a group of onlookers including Ludovico. The curator announces Galileo to the crowd as the professor of mathematics at the University of Padua. Galileo introduces the telescope calling it his ‘optical tube or telescope’ he assures them that it was constructed on the most scientific and Christian principles and was the product of 17 years of patient research. The senators applaud.
In an aside, Segredo comments that Galileo will now be able to pay his bills. Galileo fobs this off saying that it is more than a moneymaking gadget and beginning to talk about how he turned it on the moon tonight before. But he is interrupted by the curator telling the senators that this new telescope will be another feather in the cap of Venetian culture. The curator make sure to mention that the telescope will be useful in battle for seeing the enemy from a distance. This comment is met with tremendous applause. Segredo asks Galileo to continue what he was saying about the moon. Galileo tells him that the moon does not give off its own light. But he’s interrupted again by the curator asking Virginia to step forward to present the telescope to the DOGE.
While the senators are examining the telescope in delight, Galileo cockily asks Segredo if he knows what the Milky Way is made up of. Segredo says that he doesn’t, and Galileo says that ‘he’ does. The curator interrupts them again to say to Galileo that his 500 scudi a year are safe. Galileo has to be reminded what he’s talking about but is happy to hear it. A man named Mr. Matti from Florence steps up to greet Galileo saying that they could use a man like him in Florence. He tells Galileo that he’s an iron founder and he wishes to speak to him about a machine that he designed for a friend in Padua.
Galileo tells him that he will not have the time to build it but that he will find someone who can and the two wander away still talking. Virginia sees Ludovico and drags him over to the father. Ludovico congratulates Galileo. Galileo notes that he improved the telescope from Ludovico’s original description. Ludovico says that he’s beginning to understand science. Galileo goes to speak to others and Virginia asks what Ludovico thinks of the telescope. He mentions that he has seen it before but changes the subject when she asks for clarification. He asked her if she has are going to Holland.
Galileo and Segredo look through a telescope in Galileo’s study. Galileo shows him what he believes to be mountainous peaks on the moon. Segredo says it cannot be possible. And that it gives the lie to 2000 years worth of astronomy. Segredo says that the moon cannot be an earth and the earth cannot be a star. Galileo says these are both true, the moon is in earth and the earth is a star. On the moon the earth appears to have phases just like the moon. Galileo starts to tell him that he has discovered something even more astonishing but there is a knock at the door. The curator comes in and tells sick Galileo that the telescope is not in fact an invention that the Senate can monopolize and that a huge shipment of them has just come in to be sold on street corners for to scudi a piece.
The curator is upset. Galileo tries to tell him that he is on the trail of another invention but the curator says that he doesn’t want to hear it. He tells Galileo that he has destroyed his faith and that he’s disgusted before storming out. Galileo tries to fob this off. Segredo asks if he knew the telescope had already been made in Holland. Galileo lies, saying he heard about it but the one he made was even better than any that have come before. He defends himself by saying that he needed the money. Segredo asks if he has worked on the theory that the earth revolves around the sun. Galileo says he’s noticed something that might prove a step towards that. He says that he saw four lesser stars near Jupiter on Monday but didn’t take note of the position and on Tuesday he noticed that they had moved.
The two friends spend all night trying to determine where the fourth star has moved to. They determine that the star must have moved around another star. Segredo wonders if Galileo realizes what’s going to happen to him if he says there is another sun around which other earth revolve. He points out that the Christian senate is going to brand him as a heretic.
Galileo says that he’s going to get proof. He thinks that he will be able to reason with the Senate. As they are arguing, Virginia enters. She scolds her father for still being up at 5 o’clock in the morning and says that she’s going to mass with Mrs. Sarti and Ludovico. Virginia asks her father what he saw through his telescope that night and he tells her that he found nothing of consequence except four little stars. But he says that he intends to draw attention to them by naming them after the prince of Florence. He suggests that he and Virginia move to Florence and says that he has already written to the prince asking if he could be of help as court mathematician.
Virginia is the delighted, but Segredo is horrified. He is worried that going to an, even more, Christian city to present his new findings will get Galileo arrested even more quickly. But Galileo insists on taking a more comfortable position in the court so that he’ll have more money and he thinks that he can make them understand his theories.
In Galileo’s house in Florence, Galileo demonstrates his telescope to the nine-year-old prince of Florence and several others. With Galileo are his daughter and his new assistant, Federzoni. As well as Mrs. Sarti and Andrea. Galileo encourages the prince to take a seat at the telescope to look at the four stars, but the prince and his Lord Commander seem reluctant to do so. There is a suggestion of an accusation of fraud and the fact that Galileo did not invent the telescope is brought up.
Galileo argues with the prince’s philosopher and a mathematician. The prince, being a young boy is more interested in playing with Andrea. Galileo passionately argues his case about four moons revolving around Jupiter. The prince’s men are disgusted that he would try to throw away 2000 years of astronomy. The prince and his men leave without looking through the telescope. Galileo is told that the prince will be seeking the opinion of the chief astronomer to the Papal College in Rome.
Scene 5 Takes place in the college. The monks, scholars and high churchman are laughing at Galileo’s idea. They mock him by pretending that the earth is moving so fast that they are getting dizzy and need to hold on to each other. One furious monk marches into the room with the Bible pointing out a passage that says that the sun comes to a standstill. He questions how it could do that if it doesn’t move in the first place.
An astronomer named Christopher Clavius is said to be in the next room looking through the telescope. They await his judgment but are confused as for why it is taking him so long. The monks now consider Galileo to be an enemy of mankind because they think that there is no way that God would cast his precious fruit out into the outskirts of the universe. Galileo is accosted by one old cardinal in particular who refuses to believe that he is on and “inconsequential star.”
Just then Christopher Clavius comes back into the room followed by several other astronomers. He informs the men gravely that Galileo is right. The old cardinal is confused. A monk says that he needs to leave and the hall begins and emptying out. One monk tells Galileo that he has won.
Scene 6 Takes Pl. at Cardinal Bellarmin’s House in Rome where a party is taking place. Galileo, Virginia and her new fiance Ludovico arrive. The guests at the party nod to Galileo and applaud him politely. Virginia is excited to be engaged and have her father in good standing in the city again. The three joke good-naturedly with each other. Cardinal Bellarmin and another cardinal named Baberini speak with Galileo and it is clear they are on good terms at first. They talk about the ideas of Copernicus.
Baberini welcomes Galileo to Rome and asks Galileo what would’ve happened if the Almighty had created the stars to move in irregular patterns. Galileo tells him that they would have develops irregular brains so that they could grasp the movements. The men politely and good-naturedly argue with Galileo more about God. Bellarmin finally tells Galileo that he has been charged to tell him to abandon the theory that the earth goes around the sun. Galileo is shocked. He assumed that since his findings had been ratified by the papal observatory that they would be recognized. The Cardinals tell him otherwise.
The Cardinals tell him that “it is not given to man to know the truth it is granted to him to seek after the truth “.They give him another warning in a friendly manner before introducing him to the crowd. The cardinal inquisitor enters after the others have left. Virginia enters and the cardinal inquisitor congratulates her on her engagement. They talk about her father and she tells him that Galileo does not talk to her about the stars. He jokes about Galileo’s theory before sending Virginia off to find her fiancé.
In the garden of the Florentine ambassador in Rome Galileo and the monk from the end of scene five are talking. The monk tells Galileo that he has given up astronomy after reading over the decree about Jupiter’s moons. It shocked him into realizing that free research has its dangers. In a long and passionate speech, the monk tells Galileo about his hard-working, olive farming family and how he cannot bear to tell them that they are a lump of stone ceaselessly spinning in an empty space circling the second rate star. Galileo takes this as more of an indictment against his family than against the satellites of Jupiter.
He asks if it would’ve been better if he lied to the people. The monk suggests that he should have been silent. Galileo says that in exchange for his parent’s peace the authorities are tendering him on a silver platter, persecution free. Galileo asks if he should also reconcile his findings with the current belief in witches and broom sticks. He realizes that he made a mistake saying that and apologizes. But he still believes that the common people should learn to think for themselves. Galileo gets so angry that he throws a manuscript to the ground. The monk picks the manuscript up and tries to read it but does not understand it. Galileo says that he will explain it to him.
Galileo is at his house in Florence with Andrea, Federzoni, and the monk preparing for an experiment. Nearby, Virginia and Mrs. Sarti are sewing bridal linen. In the room is a new telescope that is larger than the old one. Mrs. Sarti and Virginia talk about her marriage and Virginia going to the college to get a horoscope to predict how her marriage is going to go. The rector of the University comes into the room and brings Galileo a book on sunspots before leaving quickly. Andrea reads the dedication of the book realizing that it is dedicated to “the greatest living authority on physics Galileo Galilei”. Andrea says that the author of the book believes that sunspots are a cluster of planets between the sun and the earth.
Galileo tells him that they’re investigating floating bodies at the moment.
The others ask Galileo whether he can afford to be silent on the subject of sunspots. He insinuates that he cannot afford to talk about it. The men go back to the experiment wherein they are trying to prove a thesis about things being lighter than water floating in water with bits of ice in a bowl of water. Ludovico arrives and he and Virginia embrace. Galileo says they should celebrate his arrival with a jug of wine. Ludovico mentions that in Rome, Christopher Clavius is talking about sun spots. Galileo still refuses to talk about them. Ludovico tells them that the pope is on his deathbed and that he is most likely going to be replaced by Cardinal Baberini.
They are surprised because Baberini is a mathematician and a scientist. This cheers up Galileo because he thinks that this means that they will start to take his theories more seriously. He decides to start doing experiments about the sunspots. Galileo asks Ludovico if the reason he has waited so long to marry Virginia is because Galileo was on probation and in bad standing in Rome. Ludovico answers affirmatively to this and says that the only reason he has been allowed to marry her now is because his mother thought that Galileo would no longer be working on any esoteric theories.
Galileo ignores this and begins working on his new experiment. Mrs. Sarti tells him he has no right to trample on his daughter’s happiness. Ludovico orders the coach intending to leave.
Ludovico tells Galileo that he cannot countenance any of Galileo’s blasphemous theories because his mother worries that they will confuse the peasants that work in her vineyards. He says that these peasants are little more than animals and that it is important to keep them in their place. Galileo continues to ignore him. Ludovico tells him that he will always be a slave his passions and asks him to excuse him to Virginia saying that it is better if he does not see her again. Galileo tells him that he can come back whenever he wants. Ludovico leaves.
The others, including the monk, talk excitedly about Galileo’s new experiments until Virginia rushes into the room in her wedding dress with Mrs. Sarti. Realizing what has happened Virginia faints and the others rushed her side.
Scene nine begins with a ballad singer and his wife who is costumed to represent the earth in a skeleton globe made of thin bands of brass. They hold the attention of a group of citizens who were on their way to see the carnival procession. The ballad singer sings a song about Galileo and his theories. He seems to be siding against the spread of Galileo’s theories saying, “good people, what will come to pass if Galileo’s teachings spread? No altar boy will serve the mass, no servant girl will make the bed.”
The crowd joins in as well as several extras in costumes. A small boy called “the cobbler’s boy” gets too excited and steals and egg from the basket of a peasant woman. He is scolded as he breaks the egg over her head. The ballad singer and his wife start to sell pamphlets to the spectators.
Galileo and Virginia wait to be brought in to see the prince of Florence. While they are waiting they again run into the iron founder from scene two for whom Galileo built a machine. The man, Mr. Matti tells Galileo that he is on his side. He tells Galileo that he has friends in all walks of life and wish him good luck before leaving. However, his praise embarrasses Galileo who worries that he is starting a movement. Galileo and Virginia talk about the possibility of him staying in Padua with Segredo for a few weeks, but Galileo does not think the prince will have him extradited.
When the Lord Commander finally comes out to speak to them, he says that the prince has already left and insinuates that Galileo has been looking through his telescope too long before leaving. Virginia tells her father that she is scared. Becoming nervous himself, Galileo tells Virginia that they are going to hurry to the house of the lens grinder who has a horse and carriage. But before they can escape Lord Chamberlain returns to tell Galileo that the Florentine court is no longer in a position to oppose the request of the holy inquisition to interrogate him in Rome.
Inside the Vatican in a back chamber the pope – formally cardinal Baberini – is arguing with the cardinal Inquisitor about arresting Galileo. The pope says he is the greatest physicist of their time and not just any muddle-head. The Inquisitor points out that Galileo did not write his books in Latin but in the jargon of the marketplace. The pope admits that was in bad taste. The pope says, “I do not want to condemnation of physical facts I do not want to hear battle cries. Church, church, church! Reason, reason, reason!” Finally, exhausted the pope make sure that Galileo is not to be tortured.
In the garden of the Florentine ambassador, Galileo’s friends and his daughter await the news of his trial. Andrea is certain that they will kill Galileo and says so. The others cannot argue with him. Everyone is solemn. Everyone knows that Galileo will not recant his theories but Virginia prays that he will. The cardinal Informer comes in to tell them that Galileo is returning and he’s expected to recant later that day. The complete text of his recantation will be publicly read aloud. This makes Galileo’s friends even more sad. Andrea says that you can’t make a man unsee what he has seen. He says that they are murdering the truth. They are told that the bell of Saint Marcus will be rung before he Recants.
But the designated time comes and goes and the bell does not ring. They assume this means that he did not recant. Andrea, the Monk and Federzoni rejoice. They call this the dawn of the age of reason and say they would not have wanted to go on living if he had recanted. But as they are rejoicing the bell begins to ring. This makes Virginia happy as she realizes that her father is not going to be executed. A town crier comes by reading the text of Galileo’s recantation aloud. Galileo returns but his friends find that they cannot look at him or speak to him because they feel betrayed. Galileo looks very ill and old and must sit down. His eyesight is mostly gone.
Scene thirteen begins with a note that reads: “1633-1642, Galileo Galilei remains a prisoner of the inquisition until his death.” In a country house near Florence, Galileo quietly experiments while an official of the Inquisition sits on guard in the next room. Galileo is now mostly blind. Virginia comes in from the kitchen, and she is now middle aged.
A peasant brings in a plucked goose and gives it to Virginia. He tells her that he was told to say it was from someone who is passing through. She gives it to the guard and asks him to tell the cook to prepare it. She also mentions that her father has not been writing and has been dictating to her. Galileo begins to dictate a letter agreeing with the position of the church to Virginia but there was a knock at the door. Andrea comes in. He says that he is on his way to Holland but was asked to drop by. Galileo says to show him in. Andrea is very cold to Galileo and says that he only came because he was asked to inquire about the man’s health.
Andrea says the church is more than pleased with Galileo and not one paper expounding a new thesis has made an appearance in Italy since he recanted. He also says that Descartes shelved his treaties on the nature of light when he heard the news of Galileo’s recantation. Andrea seems to be bothered that the progress of science has been halted by the church in almost every country. He says that he himself has to work in Holland and that Federzoni is back to grinding lenses. The Monk has abandoned his research and is back with the church.
Galileo says that he has completed some of his theories as his superiors know that the habits of his lifetime can’t be broken so abruptly. But they lock the pages away as he dictates them. However, he has written it out in his own hand, despite his blindness and is hiding the pages inside of the globe in the room. He asks Andrea if he would consider taking it with him. Andrea is delighted. He says that this book, the “discorsi” will be the foundation stone of a new physics. He apologizes to Galileo for doubting him. He realizes that Galileo recanting his theories was all part of a master plan to live to fight another day.
Galileo admits that he did not plan anything and that he recanted because he was afraid that he would be tortured. In a long speech, Galileo decries the influence of the government and the church on science and says that he has betrayed his profession by recanting. He says that any man who does what he has done should not be tolerated in the ranks of science. Despite this Andrea tries to shake his hand but Galileo ignores it. He does wish him well before he leaves and mentions to Virginia that he gave Andrea his first lesson and now the boy is a man and a teacher himself.
In the final scene, Andrea sits before an Italian customs house waiting with his traveling trunks while reading the book that Galileo gave him. He is investigated by a customs officer who asks him some questions and asks about the book. He asks if there is anything dangerous in the books like religion or politics and Andrea’s says they’re only mathematical books which the customs officer accepts.
Andrea speaks with a group of children who are taunting an old woman in her house who they think is a witch. He lifts one of the boys up to look into the house, and the boy sees the old woman is not a witch. When he realizes this, he is taken back, but Andrea did it on purpose to show the boy that the woman was just a normal woman. As Andrea walks away, the boy becomes angry and shouts that the woman is a witch. Andrea says that he saw that she wasn’t with his own eyes and that he should think it over for himself. The little boy joined the other children in singing that the old woman is a witch.
Galileo Galilei – the protagonist of the play. Galileo is, of course, based off of the real life sixteenth-century scientist who was found guilty of heresy during the Inquisition and spent the rest of his life under house arrest. In the play, Galileo is a somewhat grumpy genius who wishes to bring his theories about the earth revolving around the sun to the masses. Galileo is not a typical hero. He is often rude to his students and daughter and especially to his housekeeper, Mrs. Sarti, with whom he has a sarcastically antagonist relationship.
At the beginning of the play, Galileo is more concerned with money than with scientific discoveries. He essentially steals the idea of the telescope from the description that Ludovico gives him about the contraption that he saw in Amsterdam and profits off of the “invention” by selling it to the Senate. Galileo cares about science very deeply, however, and as the play continues he begins to care less and less for money. He becomes only concerned with getting the truth of his theories documented.
When Galileo recants his theories, he does so because he is afraid of being tortured and he regrets this human failing for the rest of his life. He insists that he should not even be allowed to be a scientist by the end of the play.
However, he still does finish newer theories (his “discorsi”) which he gives to Andrea to publish in Holland. This is a complete turn around from the man that was more concerned with money than science at the beginning of the play.
Andrea Sarti – Galileo’s student. At the start of the play, Andrea is a young boy and the son of Galileo’s housekeeper, Mrs. Sarti. Andrea is a firm supporter of Galileo through most of the play. He follows the man as if he were his son and is dedicated to supporting his work and theories. Throughout the play, Andrea grows into an adult. When Galileo recants his theories, Andrea is arguably the most hurt and betrayed as he has grown up listening to the man and sees him as somewhat of a father figure.
Andrea spends years not speaking to Galileo. He is forced to leave the country to work in Holland as he cannot find work in Italy, being a former supporter of the ousted scientist. At the end of the play, Andrea only reunites with Galileo because he is asked to check on the man’s health. When Andrea hears that Galileo has been working on theories, he is overjoyed. It is clear that he was waiting for such an announcement although he may not have realized it. At the end of the play, Andrea brings Galileo’s theories to Holland to publish.
Virginia Galilei – Galileo’s daughter. Virginia is one of only two female characters in the play. She is said to be too dim to understand her father’s theories and does not wish to try. She is perfectly content, in the beginning, with having a father who is a prestigious scientist. Virginia is very dedicated to her faith and wishes that her father would recant his theories more than anyone, although she loves him. She seems to wish that Galileo would play by the Senate’s rules and only produce theories that fall in line with the Christian religion. Despite this, Virginia suffers great losses when her father is put under scrutiny and house arrest. She loses Ludovico, her fiance on the day of their wedding. Later, she is still unmarried and middle-aged, taking care of her father in his old age.
Bertolt Brecht Biography
Eugen Berthold Friedrich Brecht was born on February 10th, 1898 in Augsburg, Bavaria. The son of a paper mill worker, Brecht was raised by a mother who was a devout Protestant. Brecht was raised in a middle-class lifestyle with a firm knowledge of the Bible. When he was only sixteen, World War I began. Brecht was horrified to see his classmates suddenly disappearing to fight on foreign soil. He was nearly expelled in 1915 for writing an anti-war essay in school. Brecht was not drafted into the war because he took the loophole of registering for a medical course at the University of Munich. While at University, he studied drama.
In 1918, only a month before the end of the war, Brecht was finally drafted into military service. He served as a medical orderly for the remainder of the war. The following year, he had a child with a woman named Paula Banholzer whom he had been dating. In 1920, Brecht began acting in plays and political cabarets. Around this time, Brecht also began writing plays of his own. His first play, ‘Baal’ was followed a year later by ‘Drums in the Night.’
Brecht began making a name for himself in the Berlin culture scene. In 1922, he met the playwright Arnolt Bronnen with whom he later opened up a company. The Arnolt Bronnen/ Bertolt Brecht company. Brecht than began going by the nickname “Bertolt.”
In November of that same year, Brecht was awarded Germany’s then most prestigious literary award, the Kleist Prize. He also married Marianne Zoff, a Viennese opera-singer. Their daughter later went on to become a successful German actress. In that same year, Brecht’s third play, “In the Jungle” was produced for the first time only to be brought to an end by Nazi’s storming the theater and throwing stink bombs on the stage, an incident that would repeat more and more often as the 1920’s went on. Throughout the rest of the decade, Brecht staged several other plays. He divorced his wife in 1927 and became involved with two other women, one of whom gave him a son.
In 1925, Brecht became interested in Marxism and began studying it and he went on to write a number of plays praising Russia’s bolshevik collectivism. Brecht was forced to flee from Germany when the Nazi’s rose to power in the early 1930’s. He eventually landed in Denmark and then on to Sweden after war began to break out in Europe. Fleeing Hitler’s invasion of Norway and Denmark, Brecht applied for a vise to move to the United States with his family.
During these years, Brecht expressed his opposition to Hitler and the Fascist movement by writing some of his most famous plays, including “Galileo” “The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui” and “The Misery of the Third Reich.”
After the war, Brecht stayed on in the United States. In the years of the Cold War, he was interrogated by the House Un-American Activities Committee along with other Hollywood notables. Brecht was made to testify that he had never been a member of the Communist Party. The day after this testimony he returned to Europe and began staging plays in Switzerland. During his final years, Brecht moved back to Berlin (to what was now East Berlin) and produced very few plays. He died of a heart attack on August 14th, 1956 at the age of 58 and was buried in Berlin.