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Mr Puntila and His Man Matti


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AT: Herr Puntila and His Servant Matti; Puntila and Matti, His Hired Hand A: Bertolt Brecht (with Hella Wuolijoki) Pf: 1948, Zurich Pb: 1950 Tr: 1977 G: Com. in 12 scenes; German prose and songs S: Finland, 1930s C: 14m, 7f, extrasPuntila, a Finnish landowner, is sociable and entertaining when drunk but mean-spirited and carping when sober. After three days of drinking, he becomes good friends with his loyal chauffeur Matti Altonen. He invites four village girls to come and live as his wives on his estate, seeks farmhands in the local town, and insists that his daughter Eva should break off her engagement with a diplomat and marry his ‘good friend’ Matti instead. Unfortunately, the expansive drunken Puntila turns into the mean sober Puntila: he abuses his servants, throws out the village girls, and now demands that Eva marry her stuffy diplomat. However, Eva has by now become attracted to Matti, and when Puntila is suitably drunk again, the diplomat, offended by Matti's behaviour towards his fiancée, is sent packing by Puntila. Matti tests Eva to see whether she will make a suitable working man's wife, but, because of her privileged background, she fails. As Puntila drinks more heavily, Matti constructs a ‘mountain’ out of furniture in Puntila's library and helps his master scale the summit. Knowing how Puntila will be when he sobers up the next day, Matti takes his leave, knowing that ‘oil and water don't mix’.

AT: Herr Puntila and His Servant Matti; Puntila and Matti, His Hired Hand A: Bertolt Brecht (with Hella Wuolijoki) Pf: 1948, Zurich Pb: 1950 Tr: 1977 G: Com. in 12 scenes; German prose and songs S: Finland, 1930s C: 14m, 7f, extras

Based on Hella Wuolijoki's play The Sawdust Princess (1940), Brecht's play offers a comic parallel to Mother Courage and to The Caucasian Chalk Circle: warning that it is impossible to derive benefit from the rich capitalist without coming to harm, and the drunken Puntila being like the gloriously anarchic Azdak.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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