After the Show


The Good Person of Szechwan was written by Bertolt Brecht, collaborating with Margarete Steffin and Ruth Berlau, actresses and writers who were both involved with Brecht in professional and personal ways. Brecht started writing the play in Germany in 1938 and finished it a few years later as an exile in America. The play is a parable, which means it has been created to illustrate and explore a moral question.

Some lines from the play for discussion:

“One minute of weakness and you’re done for. Love is brutal.”

“To fill everyone with happiness—even oneself—is good.”

“No one can be good for long unless goodness is demanded of them.”

Discussion questions

  1. Do you think it’s more difficult to be good in tough economic times? 
  2. Do you think love makes Shen Te strong or weak?
  3. How can one person be both Shen Te and Shui Ta? Do you think Shen Te has to make up who Shui Ta is, or does the part come naturally to her?
  4. Why do you think Shen Te wants to marry Yang Sun? Do you think she should have given his mother money?
  5. Do you think Shen Te was right to take the money from the barber?
  6. How does Shen Te’s perception of love change when she discovers she’s pregnant?
  7. Do you think there’s a right way or a wrong way to be good in this world?
  8. What do you think Shen Te does after the play ends? Do you think she is able to stand up for herself and still be kind and good?