Humsafar & Shakespeare

I would answer those feminists who find Humsafar regressive by pointing out that the serial shares many elements with Shakespeare’s Othello. Of course, Shakespeare’s tragedy takes place in the 16th Century, an era that was  much more patriarchal than our own, while Humsafar is set in contemporary times. However, one can account for this by pointing out that Pakistan is a deeply conservative and patriarchal society, which in many ways is comparable to the Europe of 400 years ago. Like Othello, Ashar is manipulated into believing that his wife has been unfaithful to him. In Othello’s case, the “proof” of his wife’s betrayal is the presence of her handkerchief in someone else’s room while in Ashar’s case the proof is his wife’s dupatta in the hands of another man. In both stories, the male lead does not question his suspicions and is driven into a jealous rage. The differences in the two plots lie in the motivations of the manipulator as well as the reactions of the innocent wife.