Power of Goodness in 1001 Nights Research Paper
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Power of Goodness in 1001 Nights
"One thousand and one nights" is probably one of the most famous books in the world. While most of the readers are children, it is just as true that the book can be enjoyed by adults as well. The texts provide not just beautiful descriptions and captivating adventures, but they are also full of symbols and significant meaning. From this point-of-view, it can be stated that the levels of interpretation may vary according to the readers' general culture. "One thousand and one nights" is a book in which the marvellous and the supernatural are mixed with the everyday life elements, creating a fantastic world in which goodness and evil encounter and fight under various forms.
The book consists in a collection of tales. Some of them can be considered as belonging to the folk genre. It is worth underlining that the book was written in a long period of time with the stories being collected from various parts of Africa and the Middle East. The origin of the tales is considered to be in the medieval literature of Persia, India, Egypt and Mesopotamia.
The form in which the book is sold differs, in the sense that some editions include just a few hundred stories while others present more. What they all have in common is the first story, considered to have the role of a frame for the others.. The tale of Scheherezade is the one from which the others begin (Pinault,92).
There are numerous stories framed within other stories in the book so it is important to read all of them in order to get a more comprehensive understanding of the meaning which was meant to be transmitted.
The main theme of the collection is represented by adventure. Some of the most popular stories include "Ali Baba and the forty thieves," "Aladdin's wonderful lamp" or "The seven voyages of Sinbad the sailor." All of them present fantastic happenings and voyages which get the reader involved in a sort of cinematic representation (Irwin,94).
However, the themes vary and one can read love stories as well as historical tales. Tragedies and comedies are both present and even the burlesque genre is to be found. Another division of the themes has been made into talisman stories, quest stories, transformation stories and stories about demons. Descriptions of real places and people are mingled with fantastic scenes. The narrative texture is very complex since a character from a story often tells another character a story in which there is another story to be found (Pinault,92).
The book is called "One thousand and one nights" thanks to the plot of the first tale. A king is betrayed by his wife and considering that all the women are unfaithful and unreliable by nature decides to marry only virgins and kill them after the consumption of the marriage act. The daughter of a vizier, the famous character Scheherazade offers herself as a bride and every night she begins to tell him a story. The king is constrained to let her live in order to hear the ending which she tells the following night after which she begins another tale. The whole thing goes on for a thousand and one nights. One may interpret that these stories are actually the ones which she tells (Pinault,92).
The denouement is a happy one, she remains alive, but it is worth underlining that the different versions of the book also have different endings. According to a version it is she who asks to be forgiven, according to others things happen and the king is distracted while according to others it is their children who make him have pity on her.
From this point-of-view, the book is very interesting since it provides us with insight regarding the status of the women in the Islamic society of those times. Scheherazade is forced to come up with a trick in order to preserve her life. Other tales tell the story of other women whose destinies depend upon men. Their freedom is limited and the power to decide upon their own lives as well. They are considered mere objects of desire and men usually possess them and treat them accordingly. Slaves or concubines, they must always obey the man.
However, it is worth noticing that despite this, women are often depicted as having strong character and intelligence which allows them to escape negative
situations. Scheherazade is probably the most eloquent example in this regard.
Analyzing the relationship between men and women we pay pass to another theme, which is the one of power. Those who have more power rule over the ones who have less. The book is full of descriptions of powerful rulers who have awesome power and therefore a lot of control as well. The consequences of having so much power is one of the aspects which the tales makes the readers meditate upon (Richard, 63).
Another interesting aspect which regards the writing technique refers to the manner in which the stories start. Very often, the tales are an answer to a question from another tale. Therefore, we may speak about stories coming out of other stories. Stories become frame for other stories which may become frames as well.
It is worth underlining the innovative character of the story in the story technique given the early period in which most of the stories were written. Not only the manner in which the stories start is unusual, but also the one in which they end. It often happens for the narrator to stop in the middle of a description or to abandon a character who is in great danger. Leaving the story without an end is a means for Scheherazade to make the king curios, but it is the reader's imagination which is aroused (Gerhardt, 63).
The techniques repeat creating a pattern. The reader gets familiarized with the structure and knows what to expect. The themes are repeated as well so we can speak about the existence of a double pattern. Repetition is an important instrument for the construction of meaning in the "One thousand and one nights," whether we are speaking about themes or story structure as it creates symmetry and a coherent whole.
The main narrator is the vizier's wife, Scheherezade, but since there are stories in the stories, the narrator changes. They may be characters from the stories just as they may remain anonymous. It also happens for more than one story to be narrated inside a single one (Gerhardt, 63).
Further analyzing the technique, it is worth underlining the richness of the descriptions. Regardless of the object of description, there are always a very large number of details. This allows the creation of a feeling of realism, despite the fact that what happens is obviously fantastic. The accurate geographic description, as well as the descriptions of the clothes, the houses and the items, transports the reader in that very world. Under these circumstances we may very well speak about the concept of dramatic visualisation (Irvin,94).
As far as the characters of the stories are concerned, it is worth underlining importance of animals. The gazelle, the mule, the hounds, the parrot are part of the stories subject. For example, in one of the tales a man gets to understand what the animals speak and it is this that will eventually shape his destiny (Richard, 63).
Speaking of destiny one might argue that it is a theme directly connected with the others. The characters undergo unusual moments and events which we have considered to be a sort of adventure. These unusual moments in which spectacular things occur seem to be manifestations of destiny.
The theme of good and evil is also present. People encounter demons who may behave badly or just the opposite. For example, in the first story a fisherman gets to encounter a jinni who promises to fulfil a wish. This can be considered good luck, but it occurs after a series of unfortunate happenings (bad luck). Things seem to happen because they are supposed to.
Generally, something unusual happens which breaks off the routine of everyday life. The unusual event is almost never a single one, but the first from a series. This series may change the character's life or way of being and in the end it leads back to normality.
As there is a strong moral side to the story, it is important to notice that the things which happen also depend upon the nature of the character, good or bad. It happens that good things occur to good people who are in need just as there are stories in which the cruelty of people is explained through their negative experiences from the past.
From this point-of-view, it could be stated that there is also a strong religious dimension to be attributed to the story. Everything that happens is because of the will of Allah (once more, the theme of destiny) (Gerhardt, 63).
Allah is omnipotent and omniscient and decides in…
Sources Used in Documents:
Burton, Richard. "The Arabian nights study guide." Retrieved march 17, 2009 from http://www.bookrags.com/studyguide-arabiannightsburton/sum.html
Gerhardt, Mia. "The art of story-telling: a literary study of the Thousand and one nights." 1963
Hovannistan, R., Sabagh, G. (eds.). "The Thousand and one nights in Arabic literature and society," Georgia Review, 34. 1980
Irwin, R. "The Arabian nights: a companion." 1994
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