Season of Migration to the North

Relations of Othello and Mustafa Sa'eed College

On the surface, William Shakespeare’s Othello, the Moor of Venice (1604) and Tayeb Salih’s Season of Migration to the North (1966) are very similar. The title character of Othello, the Moor of Venice is a man of color whose marriage with a white woman, Desdemona, is tested by her father, Brabantio. Season of Migration to the North revolves around Mustafa Sa’eed, an African man who faces similar challenges in courting white women. It is Othello’s foreign background, precisely, that wins Desdemona over. Mustafa falsifies his own backstory in order to seduce several white women, namely Ann Hammond, Sheila Greenwood, and Isabella Seymour. However, Mustafa’s wife and only love, Jean Morris, is thus not because of his foreignness, but in spite of it. Othello is convinced by his ensign, Iago, that Desdemona is having an affair. In Season of Migration to the North, it is Jean herself who arouses Mustafa’s suspicions. Othello and Mustafa eventually kill their respective first wives in “the bed [they] hath contaminated” (4.1.195-196). Othello subsequently commits suicide, while Mustafa serves prison time. Through intertextuality, Season of Migration to the North deconstructs the simplistic handling of race relations in Othello, the Moor...

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