Obsession In Two Literary Works Essay

Obsession In Two Literary Works Essay

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Obsession is one of the greatest obstacles for mankind to overcome. In Naguib Mahfouz’s Midaq Alley and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, the motif of obsession helps to both characterize and even foreshadow the fates of the characters. Both novels illustrate that obsessions with an object or person leads to demise, but the novels differ in how they portray the effects of these obsessions on humanity.
Before continuing this analysis, obsession will be clearly defined. For the purpose of this essay, obsession will be characterized by three concepts: the character is shown constantly contemplating the desired object or person, most of a character’s actions or goals are oriented towards the object or person, and the character is shown willing to go to extreme lengths in order to achieve the object or person. In this context, obsession differs from desire because desire may be short-lived and easily satiated, but obsession takes desire to destructive means as the character focuses solely on the goal and the ways to achieve this goal. Obsession will be defined more along the lines of addiction rather than desire.
In the first novel, Midaq Alley, the characters are characterized by an obsession with love or money. Hamida, a woman who grows up in an unfavorable financial environment, is often portrayed to be contemplating money and is willing to go against tradition and religion in order to obtain financial success. Hamida, while walking down the streets and gazing into shop windows, is described as having a “yearning for power [that] centered on her love for money. [Hamida] was convinced that it was the magic key to the entire world” (Midaq Alley, P40). This mindset earlier in her life affects her later...

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...n both novels suggests that addictions lead to a degradation of humanity. In Midaq Alley, the author proposes a way to solve this degradation through the introduction of a pious and honest man named Radwan Hussainy, offering a solution to this plague of obsessions. In One Hundred Years of Solitude, however, the author destroys the town and almost all of the inhabitants of Macondo, a town filled with the seven deadly sins and the obsessions that the characters possess towards such sins. By including the destruction of the town, the author of One Hundred Years of Solitude offers no alternative to this sinful nature of man, illustrating that regardless of which sin or obsession is possessed, everything will be destroyed.

Works Cited

Mahfouz, Naguib. Midaq alley. New York: Anchor Press, 1992.
Márquez, Gabriel García. One Hundred Years Of Solitude. Perennial, 1998.

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