The Happy Man Critical Analysis

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Behind the Veil of the Happy Man Prompt: With reference to at least two literary texts that you have studied, discuss how an author comments on issues of ethnicity. In today’s society one values work so much, that stress due to work related predicaments can easily take over one’s life and lead to depression and other abominable outcomes. When this is paired with religious boundaries and pressure from the government, one is inundated by the mass of conflict. Both Naguib Mahfouz and Dhu’l Nun Ayyoub use this conflict of being hidden behind an immovable burden, though the effects differ in that Mahfouz creates a satirical twist in “The Happy Man”, criticizing modern day values and the tension created by everyday stress, while Nun Ayyoub creates…show more content…
In “The Happy Man”, Mahfouz skillfully introduces the happy man’s inner altercation. “He felt slightly worried... It occurred to him that he might recall the tragedies of his life so that he could test their effect on his happiness. Perhaps they would be able to bring back some idea of balance or security, at least until his happiness began to flag a little.” (412) He is so unhappy with the current situation and his inability to return to his old custom of anguish, that he tries to focus on the darker things in life. His recent problems at the workplace, his wife’s death, his son’s move to Canada - all these “tragedies of his life” acrimoniously increase the level of his happiness. Siham also faces such problems, only that they have been in her life and those of all other followers of her religion and culture for a long time. Due to her distaste of the culture’s customs she decadently declares her veil to be a “black shroud, you know how I despise you and make use of you to keep [Ihsan] apart from me! I don’t care about you, and I feel nothing for you. I defy you.” (467) Though the veil protects her in everyday situations, she is unable to live her life the way she wants…show more content…
Once the burden of culture is imposed on someone though, it is not easy to abscond. That burden is the premise of both Naguib Mahfouz’ and Dhu’l Nun Ayyoub’s statements, however Mahfouz chooses to portray it by satirically criticizing modern values and work ethic while Nun Ayyoub raises despotic ideas in the religious and cultural values of the Arabic

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