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The Theme Of Hope English Literature Essay

1811 words (7 pages) Essay in English Literature

5/12/16 English Literature Reference this

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Hope is the feeling of expectation and a strong desire for a certain thing to happen. It is a belief that a positive thing will happen out of the harsh circumstances and situation in someone’s life. Hope is the strong feeling that is desired and expected out of circumstances will be that things will turn up for the best.

This paper compares the theme of hope as portrayed in two texts Zaabalawi by Naguib Mahfouz’s and The Guest by Albert Camus. In Zaabalawi Naguib Mahfouz writes of a sick man with a disease which is incurable by doctors. He goes on a pilgrimage through the ancient city of Cairo in search of the saintly healer Zaabalawi to heal him. On his way, he encounters different people among them a lawyer Qamar, the district Sheikh who is a government officer, a bookseller, a musician and a calligrapher. Everyone he asks for direction sends him to a different direction. (Gordon, p, 25)

The protagonist undergoes a lot of suffering; his confusion on the whereabouts of the healer leads to the doubts of his existence. However later on while drunk , he sleeps in a bar where in his dream he is in a beautiful garden where he experiences absolute peace and contentment in his heart. He awakes to be told that Zaabalawi was with him but had left and disappeared again. The sick man is disappointed at this discovery, though torn up and disappointed, he is encouraged by his dream and energized to continue with his search for Zaabalawi. (Gordon, p, 25)

The guest is a short story by Albert Camus. The story begins with two men climbing a rocky hill. One man Balducci on a horse back while another, an Arab prisoner is walking with his hands tied on rope. At the peak of the mountain is Daru, a schoolteacher who is watching them walk towards his direction. The school in which Daru works and lives has no student now. The area has had terrible weather followed by a bug drought so the school also serves as a depot for distribution of relief food, which is also Daru’s responsibility. (Yehoshua,p, 41)

On arrival, Balducci a friend of Daru and an elderly army officer tells Daru as ordered by the government that it was his responsibility, service and duty to take the prisoner to the police headquarters in Tinguit. The prisoner is accused of killing his cousin, by splitting his throat in their fight for grains. Daru is in opposition with this order and informs Balducci that he would not take the prisoner to custody. To this Balducci makes Daru sign papers that puts the prisoner at the responsibility of Daru.

Later Daru is hospitable to the prisoner, offering him a meal, a bed and breakfast the next morning. When leaving for school in the morning, Daru supplies the prisoner with some money and offers him the option of walking East to Tinguit or to the South where he can hide among the nomads. He then leaves him to decide which direction he would choose, and on turning notices that the prisoner chose to turn himself to the police. Later when Daru arrives at school, a message threatening him for allegedly turning in the Arab is written on the board. (Yehoshua, p, 41)

Circumstances surrounding incidences in these texts portray hope in different situations. In both texts both, the protagonist in Zaabalawi and The guest characters plan and hope their plans will be fulfilled despite facing numerous obstacles. In The Guest, Daru confesses to Balducci that he would not take the prisoner to the police center, but Balducci leaves the prisoner anyway in the hope that Daru will oblige to the instructions given. A look at the protagonist in Zaabalawi, it is evident that his quest to see the healer is not weighed down by some of people from who he seeks direction, for example, the lawyer Qamar has no regard for Zaabalawi, he is wealthy and does not rely on the powers of healers, piety or God. His view does not discourage the ailing man who motivates himself to look for Zaabalawi anyway. (Gordiner p, 44)

In both cases, the characters are hopeful that the steps they are taking will ease their situation and make their lives better. The ailing man believes that his meeting with Zaabalawi will make him better. He is hopeful that if he looks for the healer, and when he finds him, he will make him better and therefore ease him from the discomfort and suffering he is experiencing. Even after going through numerous hardships and disappoints he holds on, in the believe and hope that once he comes to the healer all his issues will be solved. (Gordiner p, 44)

Daru in the same case is facing challenges in his school. The working conditions are not pleasant, the area is cold, he is lonely and his students cannot make it to school in these circumstances. The poor terrain and drought in the region is a clear indication of the harsh conditions in the region. Even amidst these conditions, Daru remains hopeful that it will all get better, he hopes that his students will show up for school. As seen by the diagram on the blackboard, Daru hopes that soon his students will resume class and continue with learning, so the diagram waits the next period in a geography class. He also hopes that stronger members of the family, either a brother or a father would be coming to the school to pick relief food for the rest of the family. (Camus, p, 16)

Constraining circumstances surrounding the hope to achieve set goals and aspirations is evident in both cases. Daru hopes to achieve a fulfilling a fulfilling teaching career. At the time he is searching for the job, his country is experiencing effects inflicted by the French colonial rule on Algeria. During his job search, he requested that he be placed in a school at the foothill, an area between the desert and the plateau where he would be at free will to decide on whether to support the French or the Arabs. However, he is assigned to the plateau as a school head. The plateau represents the French, under whose rule Daru was obliged to respect and obey. Daru would have loved to support and assist the natives of Algeria but his position in the plateau and his responsibilities as given by the French were circumstances, which strained his hope to achieve this. (Camus, p, 16)

The same case happens in Zaabalawi, the protagonist faces several constraining situations, which strain his hope to achieve his cure. The directions and views given by the people he gets into contact with are conflicting and confusing leaving him confused on whether the healer actually exists. The protagonist, questions whether all who search for the healer suffer as much as he does but even in the suffering his hope is strong enough, and he is comforted that suffering is part of the cure.

In another incidence, the two characters are certain and hopeful of the unknown in nature. Daru, when faced with the challenge of the prisoner, he leads the Arab towards the path and after giving him enough food and money directs him to choose between fleeing and turning himself in to the police. Daru then leaves the prisoner at the crossroad and hopes that he will make the right choice. (Camus, p, 16)

A look at Zaabalawi also has an indication of hope in the unknown, the ailing man, after having a dream and a confirmation that Zaabalawi had visited him while he slept, the protagonist promises himself that he must get to the healer, whatever the circumstances. These two cases are an indication of hope in the unknown, Daru hopes that whatever the choice the prisoner makes it is wise and will favor all the parties involved, the ailing man hopes that he will find Zaabalawi although his whereabouts remain unknown to him. (Gordon, p, 25)

However, there is a difference in the theme of hope in the two texts. Daru’s hope to change his circumstances and have a better life may seem unrealistic and unachievable. The teacher experiences harsh conditions both externally and internally. Loneliness, solitude and poverty are some of the challenges he faces ion his daily life. There is not much he can do to change the external factors that influence these external factors changes; the snow outside the drought and the French colonial rule are some of the things that he cannot change and are therefore beyond him. These external factors directly affect the hope for a better future. He hopes to be a better person by leaving Arabs to make a choice between fleeing and arrest is shuttered by the threat written on his blackboard. This is an indication that in as much as the teacher strives and hopes to improve his life a stronger external force always gets on his way. (Yehoshua, p 41)

On the other hand, the ailing man in quest of finding Zaabaliwa has more motivation from the environment. Though his hopes to see the healer are constantly dwindling, the dream in his drunken sleep and the later confirmation that Zaabaliwa actually visited him motivates him to keep searching. His hope to see the healer is therefore practical since a few of the people he encounters the musician and the calligrapher have had a direct contact with him. (Gordiner p, 44)

The theme of hope is therefore evident in the two texts; the characters hope that their lives will improve and get better and that what they are looking for will be found. Though the circumstances surrounding them are difficult and unpleasant, the characters are firm on what they want hoping for things to get better. In this case, therefore hope for a better future motivates them to rise above their challenges. The hope in unchangeable and unknown circumstances is an indication of the human strong will and the quest to make life better. Hope is therefore a strong conviction that life will get better and its source is from the soul. A person with high hopes is motivated, will work against all odds to make life better and therefore achieve their dreams.


Camus, Albert. The guest. Mankato, Minn.: Creative Education, 1990. Print.

Gordimer, Nadine. Writing and being. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1995. Print.

Gordon, HÌ£ayim. Naguib Mahfouz’s Egypt: existential themes in his writings. New York: Greenwood Press, 1990. Print.

Yehoshua, Abraham B., and Ora Cummings. The terrible power of a minor guilt: literary essays. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 2000. Print.

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