Is It Possible to Sympathise with Hamida's Character in Midaq Alley?

In: English and Literature

Submitted By Salma77
Words 1646
Pages 7
‘[They] took the whore for first-aid treatment’ are the character Hussain Kirha’s last words about Hamida, which depicts the dismissiveness and aversion by which several of the novel’s characters view Hamida at the novel’s end. One therefore asks: Is this how Mahfouz wants his readers to view Hamida at the novel’s end? Despite the greedy ambition that characterises the pretty alley girl who resents the restricted life that her Midaq Alley environment has to offer her, this essay seeks to show that although Mahfouz offers an off-putting representation of Hamida, it is still possible that she deserves our sympathy as much as our disapproval.

In Chapter 5 we witness Hamida’ s daily promenade from Sanadiqiya to Mousky Street where the alley women’s hatred of Hamida is revealed in their conviction that she is ‘wild and totally lacking in the virtues of femininity. Mahfouz’s language depicts the women’s perception of Hamida’s behaviour. The adjective ‘unusual’ denotes Hamida’s singular attitude regarding how she wishes to lead her life, while the adjective ‘wild’ and the adverb ‘totally’ hyperbolise Hamida’s rebellious behaviour. One of the alley women even hoped ‘to God to see her a mother too, suckling children under the care of a tyrannical husband who beat her unmercifully! ‘ The adjective ‘tyrannical’ and the adverb ‘unmercifully’ emphatically outline the cruelly confined future that awaits Hamida should she remain in the alley, and convey how the alley women wish for Hamida the oppressed life-style which they had been forced to experience. The exclamation mark foregrounds the terror that surrounds the prospects of such a future. Therefore, it is possible to empathise with Hamida’s rebelliousness and desire to escape the alley. Mahfouz subtly employs irony here as although Hamida does not experience the oppressive life which the alley women had wished upon…...

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