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Personification of The Sins of Midaq Alley

Throughout Naguib Mahfouz’s 1947 masterpiece Midaq Alley, the alley’s microcosmic nature turns its powerfully crafted characters into living renditions of sin. Much more particularly, Mahfouz creates characters to represent the Christian church’s Seven Deadly Sins, with practically each and each character fitting completely into a respective wedge in the well-known painting by Hieronymus Bosch. Some characters match into a lot more than one particular sin, but they every match into any a single classification of Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, and Pride.

According to the church, as nicely as the famous Renaissance author Dante, Lust is the least offensive of the sins and is defined as an intense desire. This sin is most often interpreted to represent sexual desire, even in Mahfouz’s novel. As a result, it is most present throughout the stories of Mr. Kirsha as he courts the young salesman at the raiment shop as effectively as on his way residence (46-52), and Salim Alwan, who eats a special recipe of “cooked green wheat, mixed with pieces of pigeon meat and ground nutmeg” that had a “magic impact [that] started at night and lasted for two complete hours of sheer delight” (67). Interestingly adequate, Alwan eats his bowl of wheat without fail every single day, which represents Nimis. According to Thomas Aquinas, Nimis is a type of gluttony where the perpetrator eats too a lot. Gluttony is defined by the church as more than-indulgence, of which Alwan lives a life of until his heart attack, when he becomes a cruel and bitter man.

Determined to be distinct from his father, Hussain Kirsha becomes consumed by Greed, which is related to Lust and occasionally Gluttony, but it is want in a materialistic sense. Hussain Kirsha runs off to join the British Imperial Army He joins fellow characters such as Saniya Afifiy, who “had a fondness for coffee, cigarettes, and hoarding bank notes. She kept [them] in a little ivory casket hidden in the depths of her clothing closet and arranged them in packages of fives and tens, delighting herself by hunting at them, counting and rearranging them” (18). Also, it is revealed that Zaita and Dr. Booshy are very greedy since they are caught stealing gold teeth from the not too long ago deceased and then putting them in the mouths of the living and splitting the income rather of performing legitimate practices that would slightly lower the profit (224-228). Finally, Ibrahim Faraj lures in women below the guise of courting them only for them to later locate out that he, as Hamida puts it, “[is] not a man, [he] is a pimp” (196), which permits him to invest extravagant amounts of money courting other women and repeating the cycle (160-168, 183-198). These characters show the many varieties of Greed, pointing out a single of mankind’s greatest social and spiritual flaws that impacts absolutely everyone as Kirsha profoundly states “If funds is the aim and object of those who squabble for power, then there is clearly no harm in funds becoming the objective of the poor voters” (151), which expertly defines the concept that greed does not discriminate among folks of any status.

Unlike the fidgety and greedy citizens, Uncle Kamil is a quite pleased man, which sadly leads to him dozing off at perform and not carrying out significantly of anything. Kamil and Sheikh Darwish sit about and do very little, falling prey to the sin known as Sloth, or the act of simply becoming lazy. Mahfouz demonstrates the utter laziness of Kamil when he describes his enterprise practices “It is Uncle Kamil’s habit, even his correct, to drop off to sleep with a fly whisk resting in his lap…and he can scarcely complete a sale of a sweet prior to he is overcome by a want for sleep” (two). Unlike Uncle Kamil, who dozes off at work, Sheikh Darwish is an old man who has extremely tiny life left in him, yet he typically interjects into the story in order to prove a point about what the characters have accomplished, almost becoming a theatrical aside inside the story itself. He is absent for the majority of the novel and only appears when prompted, as if he is a sideshow fortune teller machine, only moving and speaking when a dollar is inserted. His first look personifies this description when the old poet and Mr. Kirsha begin to argue: “At this the absentminded and statuesque man wearing the gold-rimmed spectacles and the necktie moved for the very first time. He turned his gaze to the caf’s roof and sighed so deeply that his pals virtually expected pieces of flesh to come up with the passage of air…He lowered his head gradually, moving it to the left and to the appropriate as he did so, with movements gradually decreasing in extent until he at last returned to his previous immobile position. After once again he sank into oblivion.” (6-7). Sheikh Darwish only moved in order to interrupt the conversation with enigmatic disdain of Mr. Kirsha before he simply returned to his previous position, becoming lifeless and slothful once once again.

Returning to Mr. Kirsha, he and his wife are controlled by their anger as they simply define Wrath. For the duration of a fight in between the two, Mrs. Kirsha attacks the boy that Kirsha has been seeing and yells “do you want to ruin my residence, you rake and son of rakes!” and then “she fell upon him, punching and slapping him forcefully. His tarboosh fell off and blood flowed from his nose. She then grasped his necktie and pulled it till his voice trailed off in a strangled gasp.” (100). Following Kirsha pulls his wife of off the boy, Mahfouz writes that “[Mrs. Kirsha’s] cloak fell to the ground and her blood was now boiling” (101) which shows the fury and rage that had constructed up inside of her due to her husband’s adulterous acts. Kirsha also demonstrates his fury when Hussain Kirsha tells his father that he wishes to leave to locate a new life on his personal. As it is described, Kirsha “flew into a rage and slapped Hussain tough in the face with the palm of his hand … [Kirsha] charged again, but his mother stood in between them, taking the blows herself. Kirsha stopped striking out and yelled, ‘Take your black face away from me! … As far as I’m concerned you have died and gone to hell!’” (117). Also, surprisingly, Husniya, the humble baker’s wife, is also really wrathful. She is often shown beating her husband: “It specifically delighted Zaita to watch [Husniya] beating her husband. She did this at his slightest error. Jaada’s days seemed to be filled with blunders, for which he was constantly punished.” (129). Mrs. Afifiy, even though not only greedy, is also a very envious lady. She goes to Umm Hamida to assist herself locate a suitor, an act brought on by her envy for Hamida, who is going to marry Abbas. Likewise, Umm Hamida envies her daughter as well, but for her looks alternatively of her marriage simply because Umm Hamida’s beauty is fading whilst Hamida remains as a radiant young lady. This leads to some tension and many arguments between the mother and daughter. Zaita falls into this lot as nicely with his envy of Jaada. Although it appears at 1st that he hates Jaada, it is quickly revealed that he is envious of Jaada for obtaining Husniya for his wife.

Finally, Hamida’s envy of the factory girls and their wealth leads to her tragic downfall by her greatest sin. Sadly, sweet young Hamida leads the parade of sinful characters representing the Christian church’s worst sin: Pride. Hamida constantly admires herself and dreams of the social status that marrying Salim will bring her as “her heart throbbed and her face flushed, her eyes glittering proudly…she wanted the other issues it would bring: dignity, lovely clothes, pride” (142). Joining her are the likes of Salim Alwan, who ranted about how the poor males behave and disdained them for it just since they are of decrease social status than he “Why, they scarcely have a penny to their names, however they see no explanation why they shouldn’t get married and populate the complete alley with youngsters who get their food from garbage carts” (139), Ibrahim Faraj, who constantly belittles Hamida in order to develop himself up and make her feel inferior to him (254-259), and Hussain Kirsha, who leaves the alley entirely in order to locate a life that he feels is better than the one he has due to the fact he feels that he is socially above the alley (112-118).

In the end of the novel, it is shown that even the worst sins of the inhabitants of the alley are wiped away. All of the greed, envy, lust, pride, gluttony, sloth and wrath-driven acts of the characters are forgotten with time and the alley adapts to the modifications. Some individuals move in and other people leave, and all the while the alley maintains its spot. Mahfouz’s final message to the reader is that even though men and women do wrong, all can be forgiven.

Works Cited

Mahfouz, Naguib, and Trevor Le Gassick. Midaq Alley. New York: Anchor, 1992. Print.
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