Harbiyya Character Analysis

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The Path of Revenge
“Eye for an eye makes the whole world blind,” said Mahatma Gandhi, a noted leader in India’s fight for independence. This quote refers to how a lust to gain revenge will result in an individual to be unable to look at the world in the same way they did before. We see a variation of this idea in Bahaa’ Taher’s novel Aunt Safiyya and the Monastery. In the novel, the characterization of Aunt Safiyya being consumed by a yearning for revenge after the death of her husband is demonstrated throughout the book. In the book, Aunt Safiyya loves a man named Harbi, but when she gets married to the bey who is Harbi’s uncle, she accepts the bey as her husband. Due to some rumors, Harbi’s thought to be a threat to the bey and his son, so the bey tries to kill Harbi. However, in an act of self-defense, Harbi kills the bey. This causes Aunt Safiyya to raise her son with the sole purpose of avenging her husband’s death. By employing the characterization of Aunt Safiyya throughout the book, Taher develops his position that one’s desire for revenge will make it so that they are unable to love anyone. A strong motive for revenge in one’s mind will cause a change in personality that will make them untouchable in the society. For instance, after the death of the bey, Aunt Safiyya comes to live in the village where she’s seen as a strange woman who seems to have no purpose
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At first, she scares all the villagers, then she distances her own family, and finally, she threatens her own son’s life out of fury when she couldn’t retaliate against Harbi. We see that as the amount of grief and hatred grow in Aunt Safiyya’s heart, she begins to push away from family and friends, and doesn’t show her admiration towards them. Ultimately, when one feels the reason to requite with someone, he/she loses the capability to show affection towards their family and
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