Role of gods – Brecht’s The Good Woman of Szechuan

Mir Hassan

 Role of gods – Brecht’s 'The Good Woman of Szechuan'.

Role of gods – Brecht’s The Good Woman of Szechuan

 The role of Gods in Bertolt Brecht’s play, The Good Woman of Setzuan |gods in the good woman of setzuan|Brecht’s treatment of gods in the play, The Good Woman of Szechuan | What is the role of the gods in the good woman of Szechuan? |How are the gods portrayed in – Brecht’s The Good Woman of Setzuan? |What is the role of the first god in The Good Woman of Setzuan? What is the role of three gods in Brecht’s The Good Woman of Szechuan? | Brecht’s The Good Woman of Setzuan - The role of Gods

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English Honours Suggestion 2023 Semester - 6 CC-13

The good woman of Setzuan is an Epic Theater

In this post, I am going to share ‘ the answer to the question ‘The Role of gods – Brecht’s The Good Woman of Szechuan’ that is frequently asked in UG level examinations especially those who are English Honours (Hons) students. I also post some objective questions with answers as well as the summary of the play so that students can make out the whole text in less time.

Role of gods – Brecht’s The Good Woman of Szechuan

   Bertolt Brecht was a German playwright, poet, and theatre director who is considered one of the most influential dramatists of the 20th century. His works are known for their political and social commentary, as well as their innovative theatrical techniques. Brecht's notable works are “Mother Courage and Her Children", a play that explores the devastating effects of war on the individual and society, " The Life of galileo", a historical drama that examines the conflict between science and religious dogma, and "The Good Person of Szechwan" , a play that addresses the ethical dilemmas faced by those who seek to do good in a society that rewards selfishness.

    The present Play "The Good Woman of Szechuan," tells the story of a young woman named Shen Te who is rewarded for her kindness with a small fortune. However, her newfound wealth attracts the greed and selfishness of those around her, forcing her to adopt a ruthless alter ego named Shui Ta in order to protect herself and survive. The play's central theme is the conflict between individual morality and the harsh realities of society. The play is also a powerful critique of the capitalist system and its impact on human morality.

   In the play, the role of gods is portrayed as both helpful and destructive to the main character, Shen Te. The gods in the play serve as a metaphor for the forces of society that are beyond individual control, such as economic forces, political forces, and the forces of tradition and custom.

The gods in Brecht's play are found to be no better than the people on earth. They are not happy with the progress of their tour in search for a good person on earth. Though they rarely come across people with good intentions and a lot of high principles, they do not lead to a good person. When they find people who are acceptably good, they are not found to be leading a decent life. They have to spend their nights hopelessly in worse conditions sleeping in cattle sheds or on haystacks. However, they console Wang saying that the sufferings of Shen Teh will make her absolutely good and she will find her feet soon.

When Wang requests them to intervene and save Shen Teh who has to give up her marriage because she has to obey the commandments of the gods, the gods plead their inability to intervene in her affairs. They even point of the adverse effect of their interference in their human affairs by pointing to the black eye that one has developed and the loss of that of another and the limping leg of another caught in the fox trap. Wang begs them to reduce the burden of percepts that one has to carry as per their commandments by describing to them the horrible dream that he had about Shen Teh. In that dream he finds Shen Teh carrying a heavy bundle of precepts shoulders over the head under the danger of being sucked in by the mire before she reaches the other bank and delivers it. But here again, the gods plead their helplessness.

 As Shen Teh changes to the costume of her cousin Shui Ta right in the presence of the audience she sings 'The Song of the Defencelessness of the Good and the Gods'. It is very significant for understanding the central idea of the play that in unjust and aggressive societies good can only survive by means of evil. It highlights the difficulties of the good people to remain good against the schemes of the wicked and the unsympathetic rich. Even people who want to obey the commandments of gods cannot do so because of their Herculean fights against hunger. In unjust societies, even capable people cannot showcase their capability without strong supporters to back them. The good always has to look for the gods to come to their help in their uneven fight against hunger, evil men, and unequal distribution of wealth but the pity is that the gods themselves are powerless and they remain mute spectators watching the good waging a  losing battle against the wicked. The poor one will have to exercise such toughness as will build an empire elsewhere to get a day's meal. If the gods are very serious about the good on the earth to triumph over the evil, they must come down and launch a mighty battle against the wicked and distribute wealth equally to all so that hunger and thirst are wiped out. This will make all people of the earth move with one another as friends and lead happy life. It is the apathy of the gods that makes the good defenseless and unable to remain good for a longer period. If goodness is not allowed to sustain itself in spite of its weakness, evil will have uncontrolled sway over the earth and make it a hell.

    When they learn about the disappearance of Shen Teh from Wang, the gods themselves become disillusioned. The third god becomes self-conscious and feels that their commandments proving to be fatal to people who try to be good. All the moral principles they have formed for the well-being of the people will have to be canceled. People have to undergo hell to save their mere lives. Good principles are leading them to the edge of a dangerous mountain and good deeds are dragging them to their ruin. He is afraid that the world they have created is unfit for people to live in. They have to admit it frankly:

The Third God: Alas, water-seller, our commandments seem to be fatal! I fear all the moral principles that we have evolved will have to be canceled. People have enough to save their bare lives. Good precepts bring them to the edge of the precipice; good deeds drag them over. To the other gods: The world is unfit to live in, you have got to admit it!

Two of the gods are given arguments and counter-arguments regarding whether the world they have created is bad or the men who inhabit them or bad. But then the other one reminds them of their dignity and asks them not to give in to despair. Shen Teh the good woman whom they have chosen has only disappeared. They have only to find her.

Though they are gods, they are not aware of what happened to Wang's hand. When they come to know that it is broken, they do not try to restore his hand at least as a token of gratitude for what he has done to them. In the court, though they sit as judges, they do not offer any verdict. They do not either punish wickedness or reward virtue. They do not offer permanent solutions to the problems raised by Shen Teh. They try to leave the earth hastily by pronouncing her to be the one good woman of Szechwan. They say that their mission to choose at least one good person on the earth is over and the world-however muddled it is-shall remain as such. But like Browning, we cannot say that god is in his heaven and all is right with the world.

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 Some Objective Questions with Answer

Brecht’s The Good Woman of Szechuan

1)What is the name of the play discussed in the article?

Answer: The play discussed in the article is "The Good Woman of Szechuan."

2)Who is the central character of the play?

Answer: Shen Te is the central character of the play.

3)How is Shen Te rewarded in the play?

Answer: Shen Te is rewarded for her kindness with a small fortune.

4)What is the central theme of the play?

Answer: The central theme of the play is the conflict between individual morality and the harsh realities of society.

5)What is the name of the ruthless alter ego that Shen Te adopts in the play?

Answer: The ruthless alter ego that Shen Te adopts in the play is named Shui Ta.

6)What is the play a powerful critique of?

Answer: The play is a powerful critique of the capitalist system and its impact on human morality.

7) )What do the gods in the play serve as a metaphor for?

Answer: The gods in the play serve as a metaphor for the forces of society that are beyond individual control, such as economic forces, political forces, and the forces of tradition and custom.

8)Are the gods in the play portrayed as always helpful?

Answer: No, the gods in the play are portrayed as both helpful and destructive to the main character, Shen Te.

9)Why are the gods not happy with the progress of their tour in search of a good person on Earth?

Answer: The gods are not happy with the progress of their tour in search of a good person on earth because they rarely come across people with good intentions and high principles.

10) When the gods find people who are acceptably good, what are they not found to be leading?

Answer: When the gods find people who are acceptably good, they are not found to be leading a decent life.

11)What do the gods plead when Wang requests them to intervene and save Shen Teh?

Answer: The gods plead their inability to intervene in her affairs.

12)What is the name of the song that Shen Teh sings when she changes the costume of her cousin Shui Ta right in the presence of the audience?

Answer: The name of the song that Shen Teh sings is 'The Song of the Defenselessness of the Good and the Gods.'

13) What does the song 'The Song of the Defenselessness of the Good and the Gods' highlight?

Answer: The song 'The Song of the Defenselessness of the Good and the Gods' highlights the difficulties of the good people to remain good against the schemes of the wicked and the unsympathetic rich.

14) What happens when the gods learn about the disappearance of Shen Teh from Wang?

Answer: When the gods learn about the disappearance of Shen Teh from Wang, they become disillusioned.

15)What is the fear of the third god in the play?

Answer: The fear of the third god in the play is that the world they have created is unfit for people to live in.

Detail Summary: Brecht’s The Good Woman of Szechuan

[Setting: The Prologue is set on a street in the Capital of Szechwan in China. The time is evening. Wang, the water-seller, introduces himself to the audience.]

Wang introduces himself to the audience that he is a water seller in the capital of Szechwan province. He tells that his job is tedious. When there is a shortage of water he has to go far to procure it. When it is plentiful he can earn nothing. His case is not an exclusive one for utter poverty is the rule in their province. The situation is beyond the control of human beings and only the gods can relieve them of their suffering. To his utter joy a widely- traveled cattle dealer has told him that some of the highest gods are already on their way and that Szechwan may see them too. The gods say that the heavens are deeply disturbed by the pouring in of complaints from the people undergoing untold miseries. For the past three days, he has waited at the entrance to the city, especially towards evening, so that he may be the first to greet them on their arrival at Szechwan. There will be no chance for him to meet them later for they will be surrounded by important people and there will be too many demands for them to tackle. But his immediate problem is how to identify them. They may not come in a group so as not to attract attention. He notices some men coming and studies them. He finds them to be workers coming away from work. Their shoulders are bent by the burdens they have to carry. He finds another person coming with inky fingers. He concludes that the fellow is no god either. At most he may be some kind of clerk in a cement works. He then sees two gentlemen walk past. He would not take them for gods even. They have brutal faces of men who beat people, and the gods will not do that. But at last, he notices three persons walk by. They appear very different from others. They are well nourished*; show no evidence of any kind of employment. They have dust on their shoes and this makes him think that they must have traveled far. He concludes that they must be the whom he has been waiting for. He falls at the feet of the gods (calling them Illustrious ** Ones) to show his reverence for them and says that he is ready to carry out their commands.

The first god is pleased at Wang's gesture of humility and devotion to them. He asks Wang if he has been expecting them. After offering each of the three gods a drink, he tells the first god that he has been waiting for their arrival for a long period. But he tells him that only he knew that they were coming to Szechwan. The first god then informs Wang that they intend to stay at Szechwan for the night and asks him if he knows anyone who can provide them lodging. Wang in his excitement at seeing the gods overestimates the goodwill of the citizens of Szechwan. So he asks the first god why one? In fact, he knows a good many! The city is at their service and people will be too ready to offer them lodging. He then asks them where they wish to stay. [At this the gods exchange significant looks.]

The first god calling Wang 'my son' asks him to try the first house first. Wang tells the first god that if he tries the first house, he is afraid that he will be accused by the powerful for giving one of them the preference to accommodate the Holy Ones. The first god then tells Wang to take that as their order and try the first house. Wang tells the gods that the first house opposite them belongs to One Mr. Fo and he asks the gods to wait for a moment. He runs to the house and knocks on the door. It opens, but one can notice him being turned away by the owner. He comes back to the gods hesitantly. He does not want to disappoint the gods by reporting the callous attitude of Mr. Fo. So he invents a lie and tells them that Mr. Fo is just out now and his stupid servants are afraid of taking any responsibility. They forget that their master will be angry when he comes to know who has been turned away. The gods understand the situation but do not betray their feelings. They simply smile and say 'Indeed'.

Wang then asks the gods to wait for another moment. He will try with Widow Su's house next door. She will be filled with joy to accommodate them. He runs there but is apparently turned away once more. He does not want to present the gloomy state of affairs in the city to the gods who just want to lodge for that night's stay. So he tells a lie that widow Su says that she has only one very small room, and it is not in a fit state to accommodate the second god intervenes and the gods. So he will go to Mr Chang's house across the road. But now the second good intervenes and tells him that they need a small room.

 and asks him to go and inform Widow Su that they are coming to her house. Wang becomes cornered and tries to wriggle out of the situation by his clever talk without betraying the owners of the houses or the gods either. He asks the second god if they want to go to the small room of Widow Su even if it has not been cleaned and is infested with crawling spiders. The second god floors Wang by saying that spiders do not matter for the more spiders, there will be fewer flies. The third god comes to Wang's rescue by saying that he finds spiders a sort of nuisance and so he asks him to try Mr. Chang or anybody else he likes. At this Wang knocks at another door and is admitted. He pleads with Mr. Chang to provide lodging for the three gods who have come to Szechwan for that night. But he is turned away by Mr. Chang asking him to get away with his gods! They have got enough roubles of their own.


Wang returns to the gods with a new story. He tells them that Mr Cheng is extremely sorry that he cannot lodge the gods in his house and dare not appear before them for he has his whole house is full of relatives. Between themselves, he thinks there are evil men among them whom Mr. Chang would prefer gods not to see. He is very much afraid of their judgment. Wang thinks that must be the reason for Mr. Chang's hesitation to entertain the gods. The third god (humorously) asks Wang if they are all that frightening. Wang tells the third god that they are frightening only to evil people. They all know that Kwan province has suffered from floods for years. The second god asks Wang why that is so. Wang tells him that he supposes it is so because the people of Kwan province are not god-fearing. The second god rubbishes Wang's stand. He tells Wang that the people of Kwan province suffer from floods for long because they did not maintain the dam properly. At this, the first god gestures to the second god to silence (implying not to offend Wang and lose the chance of getting lodging in the city for the night). Turning to Wang he asks him if there are any other prospects for finding lodging for them in the city for that night. Wang asks the first god how he can ask such a question. He can only go to the next house, and he can have his choice. They are all eager to entertain the gods and there is very near scramble among them. If some of them are not able to entertain gods in spite of their eagerness to do so, it is all because of an unlucky combination of circumstances.


Wang walks away hesitantly and stands in the street unable to make up his mind as to whose door he should knock next. In the meanwhile, the second god asks the first one if has not predicted the same lack of god-fearing people in Szechwan as they found in other places. The third god tries to boost his spirits by saying that it must be just adverse circumstances that make people lose faith in gods and become inhospitable. The second god becomes impatient and observes that he is fed up. The argument of adverse circumstances hampering people's faith in gods has been advanced in Kwan and the same thing is repeated in the case of Szechwan. These things amount to the fact that there are no god-fearing people left either at Kwan or at Szechwan. That is the plain truth that his companions refuse to admit. He wishes them to admit openly that that their assignment to search for god-fearing people on the earth is hopeless.

The first god who has not yet lost his hope tells the second one that they should not rush to hasty conclusions by looking at a few wicked people here and there in Kwan and Szechwan. They may still come across as good people at any moment. They cannot expect to have things all their own way. The third god then reads out the resolution passed in the council of gods in heaven. It states that the world can go on as it is now if they (gods) find enough good people who are able to lead a decent human existence. He thinks that (Wang) the water seller himself is such a good person that they are looking for him if he is not deceived. [He goes up to Wang, who is still standing on the street uncertain as to whose door to knock at next to seek lodging for the three gods.]

While the third god is a way looking for Wang, the second god tells the first one that the third one is always deceived in his judgment of persons. He adds that when the water man gave them a drink out of his measure he noticed something about it and directs the first god to look at it. The first god is surprised to find that the water man's measure has got a false bottom. The second god becomes angry with the dishonest water seller and calls him a cheat. The first god then tells the second one that they have to strike him out from their list of good persons. But if one person is corrupted it does not matter much. They will soon find plenty of people who fulfil the conditions. They must somehow find someone. For the past two thousand years they have been hearing the same complaint that the world has become sinful and wicked without fear of god and cannot go on as it is. It has become a common saying that no one can stay on Earth and remain good. In this context, they (the gods who have come down to earth to look for god-fearing people and the state of affairs here) must, at last, be able to show some people who are in a position to follow their (gods') commandments (for virtuous conduct).

In the meanwhile, the third god manages to meet Wang and asks him with concern if he finds it so difficult for him that he cannot find a resting- place for the three of them. Though it is very difficult for Wang to find accommodation for the gods, he does not want to own his defeat and let the gods have a bad impression of the people of Szechwan. So he tries to present a rosy picture of the hospitality and piety of the people of his city. Wang asks the third god how it can be difficult for him to find a place for such holy guests as they. He further asks him what he was thinking of the people of Szechwan. It is not the fault of the people of his city. It is his fault that they were not offered lodging immediately. He is such a bad guide. The third god tells Wang that he is certainly not a bad guide and they are aware of his earnestness to lodge them in properly

Wang turns back to the other gods. He understands that the gods secure lodging for them. He then accosts a gentleman seeking his has begun to realize the real state of affairs in Szechwan and his inability forgiveness for addressing him. He tells him that three of the highest gods, whose expected visit has been the talk of the entire Szechwan have now really arrived in the city and are looking for a place to spend the nights. Without further listening to Wang, the gentleman begins to walk glance will convince him of their greatness. It is the chance of a lifetime for away. Wang requests him not to go away but to look for himself. One him! He requests him to invite the gods to visit his home before someone else snaps them up. If he invites them, they are sure to accept. But the gentleman does not bother to pay heed to Wang's appeals and walks on. Wang then turns on to another gentleman who has been there listening to his appeal to the first gentleman. He asks the gentleman if he has any room to take the gods in. It need not be palatial. It is the intention that counts. The gentleman turns down Wang's request saying that he cannot oblige him as he does not know what sort of gods Wang's are. He then enters into tobacconist shop*.

Wang runs back to the three gods. He tells them that he has found somebody who is sure to take them in. He sees his measure on the ground, looks at the gods with embarrassment, picks it up and runs back. The first god tells his companions that Wang's promise to them to find somebody to take them in does not sound encouraging (as he has not so far met with any success in spite of his frantic running here and there). When the gentleman steps out of the tobacconist shop, Wang again reminds him of his request for accommodating the gods. The gentleman asks Wang how he knows that he is not living in rooms himself. The first god, who loses his patience, tells his companions that Wang will find nothing. They had better write Szechwan off too. Wang is frantically pleading with the gentleman that the gods whom he refers to are three of the chief gods in Heaven. They are exactly like their images in the temple. If he offers his invitation to them now, they might perhaps accept it. The gentleman laughs at Wang and tells him that the gods whom he refers to are a lot of prize swindlers and he is trying to foist them off on someone. [He is not a fool to fall into his trap.] He


  Wang becomes angry with the gentleman and shouts at him for his profane talk about the gods. He calls him a ‘swivel–eyed chiseller who has no reverence for the gods. The like of him will roast it brimstones for their lack of interest in gods. The gods will not spare him for his lost tongue. And he will be sorry for it. He will pay for his misdeeds till his fourth generation. He has brought shame to the whole province. Pause,

Wang is now left with the only option of trying to seek help from Shen Teh, the prostitute. Being his good friend he hopes that she can't refuse, He goes to her house and calls her by her name 'Shen Teh !' Shen Teh looks out of the window above. He tells her that the gods they have been expecting for long have arrived, and he cannot find them a room. He asks her if she could possibly have them for one night. Shen Teh tells him that she cannot assure him of that for she is expecting a customer. She asks him how it is that he cannot find a room for them. Wang tells her that he has no time at all to explain now. Szechwan has now become nothing but a dunghill. Shen Teh tells Wang that she should have to hide when her customer arrives, Then he might go away. He was supposed to be taking her out. Wang asks her if he can come up with the gods in the meantime. She tells him that he can come up with them provided he does not talk too loudly. She asks Wang if she has to be careful with the gods about what she says. Wang tells her that she has to be very careful. The gods must not find out how she earns her living. They had better wait downstairs. He then asks Shen Teh if she will be going out with her customer. She tells him that she had no luck in her profession of late, and if she cannot find some money for the rent of her house by tomorrow, the owner will throw her out. Wang tells her that she should not think of money at a moment like this. Shen Teh tells him that she does not know. She is afraid that a hungry stomach will not respect persons, however great they may be. [Shen Teh points out that a hungry person will mind his immediate needs first rather than showing respect for persons.] But however, she will admit the gods in. [She is seen to switch off her light.]

The first god tells his two companions that their getting accommodation for their night stay looks hopeless as people seem to show no concern for the gods in Szechwan. They go up to Wang. Wang is shocked to see the gods standing behind him. He wipes out the sweat on his face and tells them that they are fixed up for the night. The gods ask him if that is really so and if they can go there. He tells them that there is no hurry about it. They can take their own time as the room is not quite ready, The third god then tells Wang that it is very good and they sit there and wait for the room to get ready. Wang tries to take them away from that place (so that they may notice much about Shen Teh) saying that they can cross the road as there is too much of traffic there. The second god says that they had better stay there for they like looking at people. That is exactly what they came for. Wang again tries to dissuade them from staying there by saying that it is a windy spot. The third god Wang that it is all right for them tells them if that place seems no bother to him . They all sit on a doorstep.

  Wang then gives encouraging news to the gods that he has arranged for their lodging with a girl who lives on her own. She is the best person in Szechwan. The third god tells him that it is heartwarming to learn of this. Wang then addresses the audience. He tells the audience that the gods gave him a peculiar look when he picked up his mug (measuring cup). He asks the audience if they think they noticed anything. He dared not look them in the face any longer (for he is afraid that the gods have noticed the false bottom of his measuring cup). The third god then observes to Wang running here and there to fix the gods up for the night. The first god seems tired. Wang replies to the god that he is a little tired of what he has tells him that good people do so. The first god asks Wang if he (too) finds and then enquires Wang if the people in Szechwan find life very difficult. Wang question says) that he knows what the god means. He knows that he is not very hard. Wang (who has understood the hidden implication of the good. But he too finds life hard.

      Meanwhile, a gentleman appeared in front of Shen Teh's house and gives a nervous jerk (for he is afraid that the gods should not know that and whistled a number of times. Each time (the gentleman whistles) Wang Shen Teh, their hostess is a prostitute and the gentleman who comes and whistles at her door is her customer).


The third god who has been watching the scene observes to Wang in an undertone that it looks as if the caller has given up (his secret operation). Wang becomes confused and says to the third god that his observation is correct. He jumps and runs into the open, leaving his water-carrying pole behind. But the following has occurred: the man waiting has gone off and Shen Teh, after opening the door quietly calls 'Wang!' in a low voice. She goes down the street in search of Wang. When Wang in turn calls 'Shen Teh!' in a low voice he gets no reply.

Wang bemoans saying that Shen Teh has let him down. She has gone off with her man to get the money for the rent, and he has no place for the Illustrious Ones (three of the chief gods in Heaven). It is a pity they are waiting at the door of Shen Teh, utterly tired after their long travel. He cannot go back and tell them of his failure again to get them accommodation for the night. His own sleeping place under the culvert is out of the question for the gods would not care to lodge with a man whose dirty business (of selling water with a false measure) they have seen through. He would not go back for anything in the world. But he has left behind his carrying pole there. He does not know what to do. He dare not fetch it. He shall leave the capital and find somewhere where he can hide from the eyes of the three Holy Ones, for he failed to do anything to help those he honors.

 He hurries away.As soon as he has gone. Shen Teh returns, searches for him on the opposite side and see the gods.


Shen Teh asks the trio if they are the 'Illustrious Ones' (mentioned by Wang, the water-seller). She introduces herself to the gods saying that her name is Shen Teh. She adds that she should be happy if the Holy Ones accepted to cope with her small room. The third god asks Shen Teh where the water seller who has arranged for their stay with her has disappeared, She tells the god that she must have missed him. The first god tells her that the water-seller probably thought that Shen Teh was not coming to their help and so felt too scared to come back to them. The third god picks up the carrying pole of Wang (the water-seller) and asks Shen Teh to look after it for Wang needs it.

They enter the house led by Shen Teh. It grows dusk, then lights again. In the half-light of the dawn, the gods again leave the door, led by Shen Teh guiding them with a lantern. They take their leave.

The first god tells Shen Teh that they are grateful for her hospitality. They will not forget that it was she who took them in. He asks her if she will give the water seller his pole back and tell him that was equally grateful to him for having shown them a good person. Shen Teh tells the first god that she is not good. She has to make an admission to him. When Wang asked her if she could shelter them she had her own hesitation. But the first god tells her that hesitations do not count if she overcomes them. She must know that she gave them more than a lodging. There are many, including some among the gods, who have begun to doubt whether such a thing as a good person still exists. The main purpose of their journey was to check up if this really was the case. They are now happy to continue their journey, for they have succeeded in finding at least one good person. He bids farewell to Shen Teh on behalf of all three of them.

Shen Teh requests the gods to wait for a moment. She tells them that she is not at all sure that she is good. She should certainly like to be a good person, but then she does not know how to pay her rent. She wants to make an admission to them: She is a prostitute who sells herself in order to live, and even then she cannot manage to earn enough for there are so many women like her who are forced to do this to earn their bread. She would take on any sum however petty it might be for she had no other choice. Of course she should like to obey the commandments of gods: to honour her parents and respect the truth. It would be a great joy for her not to crave her neighbor's house, and to love, honour and cherish a husband would be very pleasant. Nor does she wish to exploit other men or rob the helpless. But she does not know how it can be done. Even by violating one or two commandments, she is not able to make much but to live hand to mouth. The first god tells Shen Teh that all the doubts that she expresses are the doubts of a good person. The third god bids goodbye to Shen Teh and asks her to give their warmest greetings to the water-seller. He was a good friend to them. The second god feels sorry that they could nothing to him.

The third god wishes Shen Teh the best of luck. The first god advises her to be good, above all, and bids her goodbye.

They turn to go. They begin to wave goodbye.

Shen Teh nervously tells the gods that she is not sure of herself and at a loss to knowhow, she can be good when everything is expensive. The second god tells her that they cannot interfere with the sphere of economics (of escalating costs) for that is beyond their powers. The third god asks his companion to wait for a minute. If Shen Teh were better provided, she might stand more chance of maintaining her good conduct. The second god tells the third one that cannot give her anything for they could not answer the higher-ups in Heaven. The first god asks 'why not.

They put their heads together and confer animatedly*.

The first god (feeling awkward) tells Shen Teh that they understand the fact that she has no money for the rent. They are not poor people, so it is natural that we should pay for our lodging. He offers her money. But he asks her to desist from telling that they paid money to her for it might be misinterpreted (in view of her profession). The second god agrees with the stand of his companion. The third god tells her that there is nothing amiss in paying her. They can quite well pay for their lodging. There was nothing against it in the resolution passed in Heaven. They bid farewell to her. The gods exeunt rapidly.


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