Essay 2 - My P. Le EN115 (English Composition) Essay #2...

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My P. Le EN115 (English Composition) Essay #2 Write an essay on Michael Fray’s Copenhagen that answers one of the following questions: 1- What is the role of Margrethe in the play? 1 In the fall of 1941, the head of the German atomic bomb project Werner Heisenberg travels to Copenhagen to visit his old friend and mentor, also a Jew, Niels Bohr. That night forever changed their long time relationship and has perplexed historians ever since. The meeting took place while Denmark was occupied by the Nazis. Bohr’s house was wiretapped, so when Heisenberg arrived, the two men took a walk so that no one could record their conversation. In his play Copenhagen , Michael Frayn tackles the question that has confused many quantum physicists and historians from World War II: What actually took place in the secret meeting between Niels Bohr, who is considered the father of quantum physics, and Werner Heisenberg, who was working on, but failed to create, the atomic bomb for Nazi Germany? 2 There are three characters in Michael Frayn’s play Copenhagen , and the main focus of the play is on only two of them, Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg. Although the third character, Margrethe – Niels Bohr’s wife – was not present during the conversation between Bohr and Heisenberg, her role is crucial as the conversation in the play refers to Heisenberg’s external acts at a personal level. In his paper Copenhagen: The Drama of History , Reed Way Dasenbrock suggests that Margrethe’s role is the inner audience of the play: “to listen, question, react, and assess what the others say and do” (Dasenbrock, 226). Taking up his insight, I will argue that
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Margrethe has a very special role – a multi-dimensional role that changes to meet different purposes at different stages of the play. Sometimes she represents the general audience, who is neutral and needs explanations in order to get involved in the conversation. At other times, she is just Bohr’s wife and protector. Also, Margrethe acts as a mediator and a truth monitor of the discussions between Bohr and Heisenberg. Margrethe’s role smoothes out the flow of the play, making Copenhagen much more convincing to the audience than a dry dialogue between two genius physicists. She serves as a guide for the audience to reflect upon his/her personal responses to the deeply moral dilemas posed by Frayn. Ultimately, I will prove that Margrethe’s role is of no less importance than the other two’s – she indeed holds the “key” to solve confusions in the play. 3 Margrethe plays the role of the audience; therefore, her concern is tantamount to that of the audience. Dasenbrock claims, “Her concerns, like ours, are not primarily with the physics or the mathematics. She is concerned about right and wrong, about the ethical implications of the actions” (Dasenbrock, 226). It is Margrethe who opens the play with the question: “But why?” The whole play revolves around the question “Why did Heisenberg come to Copenhagen that
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This note was uploaded on 10/27/2011 for the course ECON 125 taught by Professor Diannelabert during the Spring '11 term at Hamilton College.

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Essay 2 - My P. Le EN115 (English Composition) Essay #2...

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