Comparison between the Orientalist and the Caucasian Chalk Circle A Literary analysis - Comparison Essay Example

Comparison between the Orientalist and the Caucasian Chalk Circle

Comparison between the Orientalist and the Caucasian Chalk Circle


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A Literary analysis


            The plays and the literary works of the twentieth and the twenty-first centuries are all affected by the situations that occurred during their years of being written. The thematic arrangements as well as the plotting progress of the stories are usually written upon the writer’s view of the present situation of his own time. Thus, even the religious and political aspects of the plays are directly patterned to the reality existing during the said writing period. In this paper, the said claim of time towards play writing is to be discussed and proven through the basis of the discussion process on two major plays that have been written during the war years in history both involving the years and social effects of Nazism and Cold war.

            The investigative narrative written by Tom Reiss entitled “The Orientalist” and the theatrical play entitled “The Caucasian Chalk Circle” written by Brecht, are the major literary works that shall be examined in this paper. To be able to know the thematic arrangement of both literatures, a discussion on the said written works shall be commenced in separate arguments whereas in a latter part, both works shall be compared and contrasted with each other to be able to come up with stronger proof.

THE Orientalist

            Tom Reiss is known to be a Jewish writer who has been able to see the direct effects of the war years in the society. Hence, his written work entitled “The Orientalist” is also a narrative display of the life of Lev Nussimbaum, whose actual events happened

Comparison between the Orientalist and the Caucasian Chalk Circle from the stretch of the years 1905 towards 1942, the years of war. In the said narrative plot, it could be much noticed that Lev, the main character, is directly affected by the ongoing oppression towards the Jewish groups in the society during the Nazi regime. (Reiss, 11)

            It could be noted that in the story, Lev is a born Jewish individual who aims to become a prominent person in the society (Reiss, 12). However, being a Jew living in Baku makes him prone to oppression and political hindrances. Hence, to be able to overcome such hardship and social prejudice, Lev decided to leave Baku, converts himself into an Islam believer as he transferred to Berlin. There he started writing books, which became bestsellers and well loved by readers.

            Affected by the Nazi control, Lev has been a member of socialist groups during his stay in Berlin in opposition of the Nazi regime. However, when his identity of being a Jew was soon uncovered, he had to choose fleeing to New York for safety. After several years, he returned to Europe sometime when the war years as well as the Nazi rule has been nearing its end.

THE Caucasian Chalk Circle

            Brecht, the writer of the play “The Caucasian Chalk Circle” is a native German who was in exile during the years 1940 towards the year 1944. Although while creating the play has much to do with the contract that he signed regarding the creation of  a play that would naturally be a hit in Broadway, Brecht has still never forgot about the thematic arrangement of the play which implies to convey a certain thought regarding the current political and social situations in Germany  during those days.

            Comparison between the Orientalist and the Caucasian Chalk Circle

As a result, the play became successful. Musical as it is, the play has invited many audiences to see the artistic and political views of the writer. The plots of the said play

mostly dealt with the communist value system that exists within a committee that did have the power to reveal the inner person within an individual’s heart. The Caucasian Chalk Circle is mostly based upon the Chinese culture of dealing with people in the society wherein the mark of a person lies within his personal identity (Brecht, 16).  Thus, in the play where the main characters are the mother named Grusha and her adopted son Michael, the power of maternal love is shown to be among the greatest display of one’s inner self towards others. (Brecht, 20).

Comparison and Contrast

            As mentioned in the description of the themes and the plots of the plays, both creations were based upon the existence of the Nazi regime. Thus, most of the events in both plays were directly in connection with the said regime in Germany. To clearly understand how the plays compare and differ with each other, the thematic arrangements are broken down to subdivisions to have a better focus:

            The Setting

The Caucasian Chalk Circe is set in the war-torn town of Grusinia, carefully depicting the present situation of the German society during those years of war and oppression (Brecht, 26). The importance of the said setting is that it highlighted the main characters’ attitude towards the situation and how far they have been able to see the bright side of the events (Brecht, 25). It is also because f the creation of the setting that the characters’ motives and attitudes towards life

Comparison between the Orientalist and the Caucasian Chalk Circle has been displayed. Their ability to conquer both their fear and their personal hindrances towards their goals because of the occurrences of war has also depicted the life of the German

nationals during those years. Some of them, like the playwright of the said play even have to flee to other countries just to be able to find comfort and safety from other lands.

            Time and Political Change

Both plays were created at the same year and the results are so far much connected to each other. The idea of fleeing to other lands to be able to fulfill one’s dreams is the main factor that contributed to the political aspect of both stories. Communism has also played a rat part in the continuity of both stories. The Caucasian Chalk Circle, which is mainly based upon a created plot relies much of its progress in the existence of a communist group in the setting. Thus, the play shows the life of the oppressed people during war times.

            Religion and Ethnic Themes

During the years of being written, both stories were based upon the persecution of the Jews. At some extent, it could be said that both stories highlight the real events that happen to German nationals especially to the Jews during the war years. The continuous existence of Nazi regime during the World War II has been among the most devastating years of the country. Hence, in the stories, it is obvious that the religious and ethnic values were given high regard s to how they

Comparison between the Orientalist and the Caucasian Chalk Circle directly affect political and social preferences of people who are in power and even those people who are the target of the oppressive acts.

Illumination of the Theme

At some point, it could be said that through the biographical set up of the Orientalist, the play of Brecht has been introduced as a basis of social examination of the German community during the Nazism years. On the other hand, the accounts in Lev’s life in the Orientalist are clear explanations of why the accounts in Michael and Grusha’s life happened during the same era. Hence, the play of Brecht clearly restates the thematic presentation of the biographical set up of Lev’s life story.


            Overall, the play and the narrative story of both writers support each other’s belief of the social setting in Germany during the war years involving Nazism and communism in the country. The connection between the two written creations are set to have a clear understanding of the present situation of the German society during those times. As for a fact, the theatrical presentation of Brecht concerning the Caucasian history of living depicts much of the narrative story that could be read from Lev’s accounts in his biography. Certainly, it could then be concluded that since both literatures were written during the same era, it is not impossible to see how each other support the themes of each story.

            Furthermore, through the creation of Brecht’s play, it could be strongly implied that Tom Reiss’ The Orientalist could be criticized as a perfect narration of a Caucasian’s

Comparison between the Orientalist and the Caucasian Chalk Circle                               page 6

life as a Jew in Germany and in other lands as well. The connection of the play with the narrated plot is indeed in direct focus of the life and personalities of the characters shaped towards the situation that they are supposed to face.


Caucasian Chalk Circle Task Force. St. Thomas University English 2223: (2005). The Caucasian Chalk Circle.  (November 29, 2006).

Collin’s Library. (2003). Brecht Dramaturgy. (November 29, 2006).

Tom Reiss. (2006). The Orientalist: Solving the Mystery of a Strange and Dangerous Life. Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition.

Tom Reiss. (2006). The Orientalist: Solving the Mystery of a Strange and Dangerous

 Life. Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition.

Bertolt Brecht. (1994). The Caucasian Chalk Circle. Arcade Publishing; 1st Arcade pbk.

ed edition.


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