Season of Migration to the North

by

Tayeb Salih

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Isabella Seymour Character Analysis

Isabella Seymour is one of the English women whom Mustafa Sa’eed seduces in England, after meeting her one summer’s day in a London park. Sa’eed encourages her interest in him by referring to, and exaggerating, his “exotic” background and his roots in the east, likening himself to Shakespeare’s Othello. A married woman with two children, and a church-goer, Seymour is completely captivated by Sa’eed, going so far as to refer to him as a “god.” However, she commits suicide after commencing a relationship with him. In Sa’eed’s trial for Jean Morris’s murder, the prosecution suggests that Seymour committed suicide because of Sa’eed’s emotional manipulation and abuse of her. However, Seymour’s husband acknowledges in court that she had been suffering from cancer before her death, and that this may have been one of the reasons why she committed suicide. In her suicide note, Seymour wrote that she wished that Sa’eed would find as much happiness as he had given her.

Isabella Seymour Quotes in Season of Migration to the North

The Season of Migration to the North quotes below are all either spoken by Isabella Seymour or refer to Isabella Seymour. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Gender and Violence Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the NYRB Classics edition of Season of Migration to the North published in 2009.
Chapter 2 Quotes

“As we drank tea, she asked me about my home. I related to her fabricated stories about deserts of golden sands and jungles where non-existent animals called out to one another. I told her that the streets of my country teemed with elephants and lions and that during siesta time crocodiles crawled through it […]There came a moment when I felt I had been transformed in her eyes into a naked, primitive creature, a spear in one hand and arrows in the other, hunting elephants and lions in the jungles.”

Related Characters: Mustafa Sa’eed (speaker), The Narrator, Isabella Seymour
Page Number: Book Page 32-33
Explanation and Analysis:

“For a moment I imagined to myself the Arab soldiers’ first meeting with Spain; like me at this instant sitting opposite Isabella Seymour.”

Related Characters: Mustafa Sa’eed (speaker), The Narrator, Isabella Seymour
Page Number: Book Page 36
Explanation and Analysis:
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Isabella Seymour Character Timeline in Season of Migration to the North

The timeline below shows where the character Isabella Seymour appears in Season of Migration to the North. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Gender and Violence Theme Icon
...by the prosecutor, who asked him whether he had caused the suicides of Ann Hammond, Isabella Seymour and Sheila Greenwood. Mustafa replied, “I don’t know.” However, to the prosecutor’s question of whether... (full context)
Gender and Violence Theme Icon
Conquest and Colonialism Theme Icon
Mustafa then recalls his encounter with Isabella Seymour —another of his victims. He met her in a London park on a summer’s day,... (full context)
Chapter 7
Conquest and Colonialism Theme Icon
Migration and Identity Theme Icon
...He thinks of how the various women Sa’eed encountered in England fetishized him. For example, Isabella Seymour had told Mustafa that he was a god. “How strange!” thinks the narrator, reflecting on... (full context)
Chapter 9
Gender and Violence Theme Icon
Conquest and Colonialism Theme Icon
Another signed photograph depicts Isabella Seymour . When she met Mustafa Sa’eed, she was a church-goer and a married woman, raising... (full context)