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Topics: Naguib Mahfouz, Egypt, Egyptians, Gender role, Cairo, Fiction / Pages: 2 (342 words) / Published: Nov 21st, 2013
Throughout the novel “Midaq Alley” Naguib Mahfouz uses a large array of female characters to emphasise the change in the roles of women in the secluded town of Midaq Alley which was used and created in the novel by Mahfouz to represent the whole of Egypt in order to make changes and problems to Egypt apparent to the reader.
Mahfouz created the character “Umm Hamida” in the novel for lots of reasons throughout the novel but the most significant of these reasons was to use her as an example of a working woman in Egypt who is a great help and influence to society in Midaq Alley. One thing that’s significant about Umm Hamida is that she’s a working woman, and even more than that she works as a marriage broker; the reason this is significant to us as we read this novel is that it completely goes against the stereotypes of women in Egypt around the 1940’s that we may have thought when first reading the novel, Mahfouz uses the significance of Umm Hamida in this society to show how women as we may already view them in these Islam Egyptian cultures is far from what is actually the case as is shown by the character Umm Hamida. Mahfouz increases the significance of her as a character in society throughout the novel as she becomes more important which varies from the start of the novel when no women are mentioned at all, this is to show how the role women in Midaq Alley were beginning to shift and they were become more Important in Egypt due to the men being more involved in the war.
An example of Mahfouz showing the build up of power for women was Umm Hamida’s introduction to the novel, 16 pages in and after a lot of men had already been introduced to the novel, she’s described as a “well-built woman” which immediately makes the reader notice she’s going to develop in significance towards the end of the novel as she does.

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