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'The social position of women is clearly shown to be subordinate in Naguib Mahfouz's 'Midaq Alley' and 'Season of Migration to the North', by Tayeb Salih.' To what extent do you agree with this statement?

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Introduction

'The social position of women is clearly shown to be subordinate in Naguib Mahfouz's 'Midaq Alley' and 'Season of Migration to the North', by Tayeb Salih.' To what extent do you agree with this statement? In this essay I plan to argue that the social position of women is clearly shown to be subordinate in 'Midaq Alley' and 'Season of Migration to the North'. I will firstly examine how and why men pursue women in the two books. I shall also look at women's status and rights in society. I shall then go on to look at marriage, as well as violence between men and women both inside and outside of marriage. In Midaq Alley, Salim Alwan pursues Hamida. However, he does not do this out of any sort of love but because he fears that his 'youth and virility' are vanishing, and wishes to prove to himself that he is still virile. He wishes to do so because his wife, who has always disapproved of his special food, is increasingly reluctant to indulge him in the active sex-life he wants. He accuses her 'of frigidity and of being sexually exhausted'. However, Salim Alwan shows no sympathy for her 'obvious weakness' and does not 'alter his passionate habits'. ...read more.

Middle

In her adopted masculinity, Bint Majzoub is completely unable to empathise with Hosna Bint Mahmoud whatsoever. Bint Majzoub masculinity contrasts with that of the women in Midaq Alley, where no women visit the caf� where the men meet. In Midaq Alley, many of the men look upon their wives more as possessions than people. For example, Kirsha 'astonished at her [his wife's] attempts to stand in his way without justification' when his wife complains about his behaviour. He feels that it is 'her duty to obey and be satisfied', and this shows how the society they live expects the wife to obey the husband without question or complaint. Moreover, had he wanted to dispense with her, 'there would have been nothing to prevent him'. However, he does not do so because 'the fact was that she fulfilled a need'. They way in which Kirsha 'objectifies' his wife, looking upon her as belonging to him and as someone inferior without any important emotions or needs other than the material (such as food, water, a home and so on) is typical of the society he lives in. The placement of power in the relationship between Mustafa and Jean Morris, a woman from a different culture, is strange compared to where it lies in other relationships between men and women in the rest of 'Season of Migration to the North'. ...read more.

Conclusion

Furthermore, Wad Rayyes married her as an attempt to prove his own virility. Mustafa's killing of jean Morris is also very graphic and shocking, and sex is mingled with murder. The violence of their relationship is developed with verbs such as 'crushing' and 'gushing' which are both dynamic and violent. In this event, sex is entangled with murder: Jean Morris opens 'her thighs wider' both as an invitation to him to have sex with her and also as a request to him to kill her. In both novels, men look upon women as inferior and subordinate. The purpose of the woman is generally seen to be to marry; please their husband and fulfil his sexual needs; have children and do the housework. Violence between the man and woman, where the man beats her, is seen as typical but no the other way round. Furthermore, the only way a woman can gain any respect from the men is to sacrifice their feminity and adopt more masculine attributes. Women are often viewed as something to be hunted or pursued and once captured they become the man's possession, to do with as he pleases. In both 'Midaq Alley' and 'Season of Migration to the North', women have little or no social status and have very few rights and privileges in their culture. Mustafa even manages to extend this to the western women he meets in England, luring them into his trap. ...read more.

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