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MIdaq alley elements of Literature
Transcript of MIdaq alley elements of Literature
Set during World War II
British Influence on culture
Link Back to Reality of Egypt now
THE LICE = THE BRITISH
Plot line and Conflicts
Man VS. Society:
Traditional to modern:
change in gender roles
Impoverished to wealthy:
virtuous vs. vice:
Radwan el Hussainy
Man VS. Self:
Hamida's detachment from Abbas and from her secure life style
Abbas's hesitant and indecisive character
Sheikh Darwish's loss in a world of unconsciousness.
Mrs. Kersha's search for a true companion.
Midaq Alley: Elements of Literature
Umm Hamida, Sheikh Darwish, and Radwan Hussainy.
Situational Irony (Jealousy)
Umm Hamida, Saniya Afify, Ibrahim Faraj, Abbas, Hamida...
Hamida and Mrs. Kirsha (mainly)
Situational Irony (Religion)
Ibrahim Farhat and Hussain Kirsha
Hussniya, Jadda, Mrs. Kirsha
Hamida, Ibrahim Faraj, and Kirsha
Against Tradition and Religion.
Hussain Kirsha, Hamida, Abbas...
Against Egyptian Nationalism.
Threatens society norms
Follows her own desire
Ibrahim Faraj convinces her that he loves her.
Hamida becomes a prostitute.
Faraj: Good omen
Middle Class dapper
Suddenly appears in Midaw Alley during Faraht's capaign
Convinces her into becoming a prostitue
Uses her weak points:
Earns her agreement when he confesses his ruse.
Hamida's foster mother
After Hamida's mother died
The second floow tenant of Mrs. Saniya's house
Likes to talk and gossip
fights with Hamida
A generous dentist
Doesn't have a degree
He studies as an assistant to a dentist in Gamaliya
Lives in an aparment in Mrs. Saniya's building
Involves himself with shady dealings with the
"Cripple-maker" Zaita later in the novel
Owner of the cafe the men gather around
Has a soft side of Hashih
He cannot control his desires
seduces young boys
Introduction to homosexuality
fights with his family a lot
A strong woman
50 years old
Has a temper
Often fights with her Husband, Mr. Kirsha due to his immoral behaviors and conducts
In his 20's
Known for his wit, arrogance and wealth
recently made money by working for the British Army
Critics of his ostentatious ways
Leaves Madiq Alley
HAMIDA = EGYPT
Naguib Mahfouz has wrote the character of Hamida as a symbol for Egypt.
Hamida represents her culture but yet rebells against it
Hamida serves as a good symbol of Egypt in this time period.
She is ambitious, and refuses to be bound by tradition or by her lowly class.
"You eat and drink my food but you are never grateful. Do you remember all that fuss
you made about a dress?"
Hamida asked in astonishment, "And is a dress something of no importance? What's the
point of living if one can't have new clothes? Don't you think it would be better for a girl to
have been buried alive rather than have no nice clothes to make herself look pretty?" Her voice
filled with sadness as she went on: "If only you had seen the factory girls! You should just see
those Jewish girls who go to work. They all go about in nice clothes. Well, what is the point of
life then if we can't wear what we want?"
Similarly, Egyptians were rebelling against the long-standing British rule.
Hamida was also a symbol for Beauty, Feminism, Power and Desire:
"Hamida was in her twenties, of medium stature and with a slim figure. Her skin was
bronze-colored and her face a little elongated, unmarked, and pretty. Her most remarkable
features were her black, beautiful eyes, the pupils and whites of which contrasted in a most
striking and attractive way. When, however, she set her delicate lips and narrowed her eyes, she
could take on an appearance of strength and determination."
THE RADIO = Development
"We know all the stories
you tell by heart and we don't need to run through them again. People today don't want a poet.
They keep asking me for a radio and there's one over there being installed now. So go away and
leave us alone and may God provide for you . . ."
"The radio will never replace us."
"The poet has gone and the radio has come. This is theway of God in His creation. Long ago it was told in _tarikh,__ which in English means 'history'and it is spelled h-i-s-t-o-r-y."
Story-telling is replaced by a radio at the cafe.
"What a pity! Imagine letting lice live in that
Before Abbas went and confronted Hamida, and asked for her hand in marriage.
He “gazed critically at his reflection in the mirror”.
Abbas leads a double life. Abbas dresses up as one of the high societal beings and meets Hamida. He portrays himself as a high end of society in order to impress Hamida. However in reality he’s a poor barber who can barely afford the suit he is wearing. This represents a societal standing of duality. People show themselves to be something when in reality they’re really something different. This is called leading a double life or having a two faced life. Such actions in Midaq Alley aid in the characterization of certain characters from the novel.
When it's Hamida’s first morning as a prostitute:
“she got out of bed and went to the dressing table, standing there in astonishment gazing at the mirrors surrounding it”.
Hamida, at this point in the novel, has chosen to live the life of a prostitute as opposed to her sheltered life in Midaq Alley.
Hamida is torn between her two lives. She has an existing personality in her origins in Midaq and now she has a new identity, living in the city.
The duality of her nature causes her destruction in the end.
Through the symbolism of mirrors, Mahfouz clearly points out the problematic community that the characters dwell in. The characters are concerned with enhancing the reputation that is put out for them that they end up perishing in the end. Reputation
Mirrors symbolize the duality and hypocritical ways of Midaq Alley.
Cairo Cera 1940's-1960's
A local barber
Adores every aspect of the alley
Falls in love with Hamida
Enters British army to make more money for Marriage and happy life with Hamida
The Elder Poet
A poor, senile, and pious man who recites verses of the Qur'an. A traditional poet local entertainer
Kicked out by Kirsha in his cafe where he performed his whole life and is replaced by the modern radio
A sadistic and cynical beggar who cripples beggars who wish to capture the sympathy of the rich via their deformities
Loathes every inhabitant of the alley except Husniya, wife of Jaada the petty and cowardly baker.
A wealthy yet old company owner who finds no purpose in his life anymore.
Wishes to marry Hamida to satisfy his sexual desires despite having a family and wife.
Respected for his piety and wisdom
Decided to live a life of honesty and simplicity after losing his children and university degree
Mistreats his wife
A learned man who taught himself English and had a respectable social position and family
His pompousness cost him his job and family
Aimlessly waders the alley muttering words of wisdom or spelling words in English to other locals
Set during World War II
Set during the British Occupation
The novel explores different political attitudes, Ibrahim Farahat and Kirsha.
Ibrahim Farhat the politician promises to bring conditions back to the old Wafd ideas of 1919.
Kirsha is pessimistic about change in a corrupted political world.
: The merchant on Nahasin Street and runs for political office and hosts a campaign event near the alley. He is very stingy considering that he is a businessman.
In the elections of 1924 and 1925 his work was much appreciated even though it was rumored that he accepted bribes from the government candidate while supporting the Wafd party. He had hoped to play the same role in the Sidqy elections, to accept money while boycotting the elections. However, government eyes watched him and he was one of several who were taken to the election headquarters. Thus, for the first time, he was forcibly prevented from giving his support to the Wafd. His last contact with politics was in 1936; it was then he decided to divorce politics and wed commerce
” (Mahfouz, 104)
Favors the old system and favors that side, rather than the current one and lost hope in any change.
Change was needed at that time.
Change was seen in :
Hamida (Grotesque Character)
Hamida was rebelling against her culture but simultaneously rebelling against it.
Hamida is ambitious, and refuses to be limited by tradition or by her low social class that she lives in.
Similarly, Egyptians were rebelling against the British occupation, and the nationalist Wafd Party wanted to enforce a constitutional monarchy.
Hamida gains power that is unusual for a woman, but then becomes drunk with it, ultimately causing others pain.
"So it was that one day she had said to her mother, "The Jewish girls have the only real life here. "You must have been conceived by devils!" her mother shouted. "None of my blood is in you." "Maybe I'm a pasha's daughter, even if illegitimately." The woman shook her head and moaned, "May God have mercy on your father, a poor vegetable seller in Margush
!" (Mahfouz, 29).
Most religious and pious man
Irony: speaks English (relation to British Occupation"
"Oh yes, everything comes to its nihaya" "And the word for this in English is 'end' and it is spelled E-N-D . . ." (Mahfouz, 194).
Symbolize how the British influence will remain forever.
Islamic Culture and Traditions
Role of women
Look and Listen to Mariam
Her real mother lives with Umm Hamida
Driven by ambition for wealth and status
Gets engaged to Abbas
"Two shops, however, that of Uncle Kamil, the sweets seller, to the right of the alleyentrance and the barbershop on the left, remain open until shortly after sunset. It is Uncle Kamil's habit, even his right, to place a chair on the threshold of his shop and drop off to sleep with a fly whisk resting in his lap."
7 years before the Anglo- Egyptian Agreement
Routine of lower middle class.
Too good to be true?
Hamida believes that Ibrahim Faraj loves her
Depletion of farm lands and decrease in level of education
"The barber is young and Mr. Alwan is old; the barber is of the same class as Hamida and Mr. Alwan is not. The marriage of a man like Alwan to a girl like your daughter is bound to bring problems which will make her unhappy." He had finished by saying, "Abbas is a good young man and he has left home to improve his condition because he's eager for this marriage. He is by far the better husband for Hamida. You must simply wait. If he comes back penniless, which God forbid, then it is clearly within your right to marry her to the man of your choice."
A strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen.
Kirsha: Narcotics, money, young boys.
Abbas: Marry Hamida, money.
Salim Alwan: Sexual appetite, Hamida.
Hussain Kirsha: Money and wealth
Hamida: Wealth and status
Radwan Hussainy and Sheikh Darwish, the men closest to God