This overtly political play is seemingly relevant in the era of Donald Trump. It tells how a dubious figure can rise to the top because other people consistently underestimate him. While the drama is set in Chicago during the 1930s, the themes of capitalism, protectionism and corruption remain pertinent to this day.
The content of the drama leans heavily on the calamitous rise to power of Adolf Hitler. Hence one of the characters represents the leader of the Brownshirts, while another stands in for an elderly general who helped the Nazis to progress. However, the influence of Shakespeare is important as Ui gets training in the art of oratory from an actor fascinated by the Bard of Avon.
The play was composed in 1941 and this means that Brecht could not be sure of what would happen to the fascist project. Although the authoritarian populism of Trump might not be the same as the politics of Hitler, it could be as well for Americans to heed the warning of Brecht:
“So let’s not drop our guard too quickly then:
Although the world stood up and stopped the bastard
The bitch that bore him is in heat again.”