Empathy in Modern Drama: Bertolt Brecht’s Threepenny Opera

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The aim of this paper is to compare Brechtian theory concerning empathy in theatre and recent studies showing the biological basis of empathy. First of all, a brief summary about the concept of empathy is provided, with particular attention to empathy in Brechtian theatre. Then, a paragraph is dedicated to explain how empathy and emotional involvement are linked to neurobiological mechanisms and body state. In the end, an analysis of the Verfremdungseffekte in the Threepenny Opera is traced to understand how recent studies contradict Brechtian theory as far as empathy is concerned.

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