Follow TV Tropes

Following

Theatre / The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui

Go To

This play by Bertolt Brecht is an odd fusion. Openly intended as a Roman à Clef detailing Hitler's rise to power, while borrowing from gangster tropes and dialect (Ui is basically Al Capone meets Hitler), it's also written in Shakespearean blank verse and shows a certain influence from Julius Caesar.


Provides examples of:

  • Author Tract: like pretty much everything Brecht wrote
  • The Bad Guy Wins
  • Bilingual Bonus: Character names are often variations of the name of the historical figure they are based on (i.e. Ernst Rohm is now Ernesto Roma), but with Hindenburg, he is called Dogsborough (It's a pun- Hinden sounds like hunden, which means dogs/burg as in burgh/borough)
  • Bullying a Dragon: A few characters are quite open about their hatred of Ui and his gang. They tend not to survive to the next scene.
  • Captain Ersatz: All the major characters are ersatzes of people involved in the rise of Hitler:
    • Ui is Hitler himself. Most productions have him looking like Hitler to make it even more obvious.
    • Ernesto Roma, as his name suggests, is Ernst Röhm, one of the founders of the Nazi Party whom Hitler had assassinated.
    • Giuseppe Givola is Joseph Goebbels, right down to the limp.
    • Manuele Giri, who takes over as Ui's Dragon after Roma's death, is based on Hermann Goering. There's even a similar structure of names: Givola-Giri and Goebb els-Goering.
    • Old Dogsborough is Paul von Hindenburg, the chancellor who appointed Hitler. As with Roma, this is indicated in his name-see Bilingual Bonus above.
    • One-scene character Ignatius Dullfeet is Engelbert Dollfuss, an Austrian chancellor who banned the Austrian Nazi Party and was subsequently assassinated as part of a Nazi coup.
    • Clark is Franz von Papen, one of the group of advisers who persuaded Hindenburg to appoint Hitler, believing that Hitler could be easily controlled. The Trust in general represent the attitude of the landed nobility in Prussia, who had a major influence on German politics at the time.
    • Charles Fish is Marinus van der Lubbe, and the allegations of his burning down the warehouse mirror those of van der Lubbe burning down the Reichstag (though most historians now believe that it really was van der Lubbe who burned down the Reichstag, and the timing happened to play into Hitler's hands, contrary to most people's assumption at the time that the Nazi Party burned down the Reichstag.)
  • Churchgoing Villain: Arturo Ui is a Christian, though he considers the Ten Commandments to be "too demanding and impractical."
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The ending actually has placards indicating what various things should remind you of.
  • Evil Cripple:
    • Givola, Ui's Evil Genius is-like every character-inspired by people related to Hitler's rise, and in Givola's case, he's supposed be Joseph Goebbels. Like Goebbels, Giavola, has a crippled leg and walks with a limp. The play refers to his (paraphrased) "crooked body and crooked mind".
    • Ui himself is shown as hunchbacked in some productions, probably a combination of having him walk like Hitler (of whom he's a stand in) and to further the play's explicit invocation of Richard III.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: A recurring theme. Ui's allies are no safer than his enemies.
    • Bowl strikes a deal with Ui to get revenge on Old Dogsborough for firing him. After Ui forms an alliance with Dogsborough, Ui's Brute Manuele Giri kills Bowl to prevent him from testifying against Dogsborough in court.
    • Old Dogsborough himself ends up the victim of this after having a fit of conscience and attempting to make up for his misdeeds by confessing his and Ui's crimes in his will. Ui's mob saw this coming, and Giri has Dogsborough poisoned, then steals the document and replaces it with one which gives Ui Dogsborough's job and Ui's Dragon Ernesto Roma custody over his son.
    • Ernesto Roma is in turn assassinated by Ui, who is under the belief that Roma is The Starscream.
    • One-scene character Ignatius Dullfeet reluctantly forms an alliance with Ui later. Ui and Giri are plotting his assassination before he's even left the room.
  • Evil Is One Big, Happy Family: Ernesto Roma praises Ui for how loyal he is to his fellow mobsters. After Ui has Roma assassinated, the ghost of Roma comes to him in a dream and tells him that, while he's fine with murder and treason, Ui went too far by killing a fellow murderer.
    Roma: Plot against the world/But not against your fellow plotters, please!
  • Expy Coexistence: Ui is based on Hitler, but the actual Hitler is also acknowledged in-universe. Throughout the play, newspaper articles are shown describing Hitler doing something that mirrors whatever Ui had been doing in the previous scene.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Arturo Ui often acts as though he's friends with everyone around him in order to get what he wants, but will kill these same people without a second thought if they defy him (or even if they don't defy him but cease to be useful to him).
  • Foregone Conclusion: It's in the title.
  • Gangsterland
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Arturo Ui's rise takes place at the same time as that of Adolf Hitler, and most of his crimes are smaller-scale versions of things Hitler actually did, but Hitler never actually appears.
  • Hitler Cam: Pretty much required for Ui's ending speech. One production (the one Amelia Des Anges was in) managed to pull this off with fifteen Uis at once.)
  • Informed Attribute: Ui's rise doesn't seem all that resistible, seeing as everyone who tried ended up murdered.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: It's not uncommon for productions to give Arturo a toothbrush mustache to drive the point home.
  • New Era Speech: Ui ends the play with one.
  • Open Secret: Everyone knows Ui and his group are criminals. Their attempts to cover up their crimes go about as far as not turning themselves in; most people fear him too much to report him, and those that dare don't live long enough to get the chance.
  • Playing the Victim Card: When around people not part of his mob, Ui insists that he's a helpless victim of slander.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Ui, being based on Hitler, is naturally not fond of Jews, and laments how full of Jews the world is in one of his monologues.
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare: Many, many Shakespeare quotes are used throughout the play. Ui is explicitly compared to Richard III, and later is visited by the ghost of one of his victims in reference to Macbeth.
  • Surreal Humor: A staple of Brecht's work, and often used.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Everyone talks like Damon Runyon characters trapped in a William Shakespeare play (or maybe Shakespearean actors in a Runyon story?)
  • Straight Edge Evil: Arturo Ui.
    Ui: Liquor, tobacco, sex, they make me panic.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Ernesto Roma's ghost gives a "villain to a villain" variation to Ui in a dream.
      Roma: And all that will not help you. Not at all./All murder, fraud, and foaming at the mouth/And be you spitting lickspittle or threat/It's all in vain, in vain. The roots are rotten./Your crimes will never blossom forth, Arturo./Treason is bad manure. Go lie and slaughter./Cheat all the Clarks and murder all the Dullfeets!/But don't you touch your own men. Plot against the world/But not against your fellow plotters, please!/Tell barefaced lies to everybody's face,/But not the face you're facing in the mirror./You struck yourself down when you struck me down./I was devoted to you in the days/When you were just a shadow falling down/The flophouse floor whose warmth we shared together./And now I shiver in the draft of all/Eternity, while you go dining with/Your mighty friends. Treason has made you big./Treason will make you fall. The way you did/Betray me, your friend and aide, you will/Betray them all, and in the end, Arturo/they'll all betray you one by one./Green grass grows over Ernie Roma now,/Not over you and your disloyalty!/It's swing in the breeze above the graves/Like someone hung up from his toes. It is/Observed by all, this faithlessness of yours,/Especially by those who dig your grave./The day will come when everyone you smashed/Will rise. Arise, arise will all the men/Already crushed and to be crushed tomorrow./And they'll be marching down the street to you,/A bloody world and full of hate. You'll stand/And look around for help. That's how I stood./Then will you beg and bully, curse and lie./No one will hear you. No one heard me cry.
    • Betty Dullfeet gives Ui three-all in one scene.
      • Later in the same scene:
      Betty: Yes, life goes on and indeed I will use it/To tell the world what pestilence you are./You made this happy town your Hell. Oh god,/I swear by Dullfeet's corpse that I will hate/My voice whene'er it says "Good morning!" or/"What's there for lunch?" instead of crying out/The one and only thing that must be cried: Exterminate Ui!
      • And again when Ui still tries to get her to accept his protection.
      Betty: You say that to my face? I am the widow/Of the man you murdered. You monstrosity!/I knew you'd come because you always come,/Returning to the scene of crime, accusing others/Of your crime. "I didn't do it"/Or: "it was someone else" "I know from nothing"/"Help! I've been raped!" cries Rape. And "Call the cops!/There's been a murder!" Mr. Murder cries. [...] Oh, God protect us from protectors!
    • The epilogue is the actor playing Arturo Ui giving one to the audience.
      If we could learn to look instead of gawking,/We'd see the horror in the heart of farce,/If only we could act instead of talking,/We wouldn't always end up on our arse./This was the thing that nearly had us mastered;/Don't yet rejoice in his defeat, you men!/Although the world stood up and stopped the bastard,/The bitch that bore him is in heat again.note 
  • Trippy Finale Syndrome: Commonly used.
  • Villain of Another Story:
    • Each scene ends with a news headline showing the event in Hitler's rise which the scene is supposed to mirror. However, the Fuehrer himself never actually appears.
    • Al Capone is also mentioned in passing.
  • Villainous Friendship: Arturo Ui and Ernesto Roma refer to each other as "my friend" and it's clear that they feel deeply loyal to each other. That is, until Ui comes to believe that Roma is The Starscream and has him assassinated.

Top