Jamal Mahjoub’s The Carrier as a Re-writing of Shakespeare’s Othello

Yousef Awad, Mahmoud F. Al-Shetawi

Abstract


This paper examines how Arab British novelist Jamal Mahjoub appropriates and interpolates Shakespeare’s Othello. Specifically, this paper argues that Mahjoub’s historical novel The Carrier (1998) re-writes Shakespeare’s Othello in a way that enables the novelist to comment on some of the themes that remain unexplored in Shakespeare’s masterpiece. Mahjoub appropriates tropes, motifs and episodes from Shakespeare’s play which include places like Cyprus and Aleppo, Othello’s identity, abusive/foul language, animalistic imagery, and motifs like the eye, sorcery/witchcraft, the storm and adventurous travels. Unlike Othello’s fabled and mythical travels and adventures, Mahjoub renders Rashid al-Kenzy’s as realistic and true to life in a way that highlights his vulnerability. In addition, the ill-fated marriage between Othello and Desdemona is adapted in Mahjoub’s novel in the form of a Platonic love that is founded on a scientific dialogue between Rashid al-Kenzy and Sigrid Heinesen, a poet and philosopher woman from Jutland. In this way, Desdemona’s claim that she sees Othello’s visage in his mind, a claim that is strongly undermined by Othello’s irrationality, jealousy and belief in superstitions during the course of the play, is emphasized and foregrounded in Mahjoub’s novel.

 

 


Keywords


Jamal Mahjoub, Othello, Appropriation, Arabic Literature in English

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.6n.5p.173

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