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‘Shakespeare Had the Passion of an Arab’

The Appropriation of Shakespeare in Fadia Faqir’s Willow Trees Don’t Weep

Hussein A. Alhawamdeh

This article analyses the Shakespearean appropriation in Fadia Faqir’s Willow Trees Don’t Weep (2014) to show how Faqir’s novel establishes a new Arab Jordanian feminist trope of the willow tree, metaphorically embodied in the female character of Najwa, who does not surrender to the atrocities of the masculine discourse. Faqir’s novel, appropriating a direct text from Shakespeare’s Cymbeline and an allusion to Shakespeare’s Othello, does not praise the Bard but dismantles the Shakespearean dramatization of the submissive woman. In this article, I claim that Faqir’s Willow Trees warns against mimicking the Bard’s feminine models and offers a liberating space or a local ‘alternative wisdom and beauty’, in Ania Loomba’s expression, and a ‘challenge’, in Graham Holderness’s terminology, to Shakespeare. In Faqir’s novel, Shakespeare has been ‘Arabized’, in Ferial Ghazoul’s words, to revise and redefine new roles of the Arab Jordanian woman.