How do the authors of the two novels ‘Broken April’ and ‘The Thief and the Dogs’, use darkness to reflect the protagonist’s state of mind? Throughout the ages of literature, darkness has often been used as symbolic in the representation of evil, fear, concealment, loneliness and blindness. The authors of the novels ‘Broken April’ and ‘The Thief and the Dogs ‘have used this image of darkness to reflect the protagonist’s state of mind. Both, Kadare and Mahfouz have used dark imagery repeatedly to reflect the feelings of ‘loneliness’, ‘isolation’ and ‘fear’.
The dark imagery reflects the thoughts and inner sentiments of the protagonists in both the novels. To understand the symbolism of darkness, we must first understand the role of the protagonist, the society around him, and the influence of his friends or family in shaping his character. In The thief and the Dogs, Said Mahran is the main character. Said is condemned as a criminal. He is a frustrated man who has been moulded and mistreated by his own society. He is a victim of his community. He is born poor and deprived of the basic human needs.
The irresponsible and inhuman act of his wife, his friend Illish Sidra and his master Rauf Ilwan has shaken his belief in love, friendship and human values that make human life worth living. Therefore, he is constantly living a lonely, forbidden, isolated and fearful life. The image of darkness which echo’s throughout the novel highlights these feelings, which affect Said’s state of mind and his view on life. In Broken April, Gjorg is the protagonist. He is portrayed as a shy, soft-spoken lad. Under the Kanun (the law), he is forced to avenge his brother’s death.
And as per the law, he has only 30 days to live before a member of the Kryeqyqe family hunts him down. Therefore, he is living a life full of misery, fear of death, loneliness and isolation from his family and the Kanun. These aspects of his character are highlighted by the dark images throughout the novel. In both the novels, perhaps the most important symbol of darkness is fear. In Broken April, darkness reflects Gjorgs fear of death. The ‘gray sky’1, which the author has described as lonely and spread out, is a metaphor for Gjorg’s state of mind.
It implies that Gjorg felt fear and loneliness inside because he was going to be hunted down by the member of the Kryeqyqe family and there was no one there to support him or save him. The gloominess created by the gray imagery re-enforces the idea that he fears death. Furthermore, the lines ‘his eyes would weaken in the darkness, so that one way or another, even if he was still alive, he would never see the world again. ‘2, indicate that Gjorg was afraid because he knew he was approaching death, since there was not much time left before his 30-day truce would be over.
Gjorg knew he ‘would never see the world again’ because death was approaching and he was all by himself. In contrast, in The Thief and the Dogs, Said is constantly running away from the law because he is scared. Fear has set into his mind. Mahfouz tries to portray this feeling by using dark images repeatedly. The line ‘walking into the open darkness, he looked cautiously around him… he must not underestimate his enemies’3 show that Said was scared to walk alone on the roads because he feared that his enemies wanted to kill him.
He knew they would not rest until they saw ‘him a corpse, laid out and still’. Besides that, the mention of darkness in the lines ‘It was hopeless now to think of fleeing from the dark by running away into the dark. ‘4, implies that Said feared death but he had realized that death was inevitable and there was no way he could escape it. His life in the world was anyways filled with darkness because of fear and isolation, and he was running from his isolation from society to isolation from the world forever.