Midaq Alley

The Sins of Midaq Alley 12th Grade

Throughout Naguib Mahfouz’s 1947 masterpiece Midaq Alley, the alley’s microcosmic nature turns its powerfully crafted characters into living renditions of sin. More specifically, Mahfouz creates characters to represent the Christian church’s Seven Deadly Sins, with almost each and every character fitting perfectly into a respective wedge in the famous painting by Hieronymus Bosch. Some characters fit into more than one sin, but they each fit into any one classification of Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, and Pride.

According to the church, as well 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. Thus, it is most present throughout the stories of Mr. Kirsha as he courts the young salesman at the raiment shop as well as on his way home (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 effect [that] began at night and lasted for two full hours of sheer delight” (67). Interestingly enough, Alwan eats his bowl of wheat without fail every day, which represents Nimis. According...

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