Fiddler on the Roof

by Joseph Stein

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Topics for Further Study

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Compare and contrast Tevye with the title character in Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage; both characters struggle to survive in tough times and a harsh environment. Focus on their quests to support and guide their children.

Research the history of the Jews in turn of the century Russia. Why was tradition—a central theme in Fiddler on the Roof—so important to their way of life?

Read the short stories by Sholem Aleichem (1894’s Tevye and His Daughters) that are the basis for Fiddler on the Roof. How do the demands of the short story form affect how the stories are told? How are the tales told differently on the stage?

The title image and central metaphor of Fiddler on the Roof—the fiddler himself—comes from a painting by Marc Chagall. Research Chagall’s background and his stylistic concerns as an artist. Compare and contrast Chagall with the Stein’s play and its themes.

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