A pledge, or bond, in the sense of the title of Weill and Neherâs opera, presents an interesting combination of relationships. It starts with the premise that something has gone awry and offers a system to put it right. In this case, Mattes has gambled away everything he owns and cannot pay his debts. The creditors are hot on his heels; his wife and child are likely to be thrown out onto the streets. A disaster is in the making. Fortunately, however, Mattes is able to persuade his neighbor Orth to vouch for him and assume eventual responsibility for these gambling debts. In return for this pledge the creditors are prepared to delay demanding payment for a reasonable period, allowing the debtor time to raise the necessary funds elsewhere. Orth has to trust that Mattes will find the money, but Orth is bound to pay the debt if Mattes does not. This combination of trust, reasonableness, and reliability functions well and averts a disaster. Thus the prologue to Die BÃ¼rgschaft shows how a bad decision or act can be redressed and its disastrous consequences averted when all parties agree to act with the generosity, responsibility, and trustworthiness implicit
Theater – Duke University Press
Published: Jan 1, 2000
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