29 April, 2013
Fancy Shmancy Title
When a person becomes trapped in a situation that stems from an individual with greater authority, being manipulative can be a very promising method to escape. The Thousand and One Nights does a very good job of being a good example of someone in this situation that uses stories within a story to capture encapsulate the attention of the reader. Despite the many little stories that go into the text, the main story behind it all is about a king named King Shahrayar and how he goes insane after catching his wife having sexual relations with a slave. After he sees this happen, he realizes that he can never trust any woman again and none of them are trustworthy. By expressing his views on women, he decides to marry a different woman every night, then the next morning have them killed by beheading. This is an ongoing event that brings death to most of the women in the village. Soon after, the king’s Vizier’s daughter, Shahrazad, came up with a brilliant idea that will end up saving her fellow countrywomen and hopefully keep the king from murdering so many innocent people. Her method behind all this is by telling the kind a different story every night that leaves him on a cliffhanger, making him curious enough to keep her alive for another day to continue her story. Shahrazad keeps herself spared from the king because of her cunning, and compassionate personality.
Shahrazad is kept alive mainly because of her vast knowledge of the king, allowing her to plan her escape precisely and with skill. Shahrazad is a scholar, so says the narrative, and is very aware of what will capture the king’s attention enough to spare her every night, because: “[She] had read the books of literature, philosophy, and medicine. She knew poetry by heart…and was aquainted with the saying of men and the mazims of sages and kings” (562). She knows that she will be able to keep the king at her mercy of the stories, using them to convince him to keep her alive without him knowing of the scheme. The Vizier eventually lets the king know that he can take Shahrazad, she tells her sister: “Listen…When I go to the king, I will send for you, and when you come and see that the king has finished with me, say, ‘Sister, if you are not sleepy, tell us a story” (566). By doing this, it shows the audience that she has carefully planned everything out to this point. By not only using her well thought out plan of telling the king stories, she also uses sexual pleasure to aide in the scheme.
By using the king’s sexual desires against him, she is able to keep herself alive night after night. Typically, for married couples, the first wedding night consist of sex. The text says that: “The king sent for [Dinarzad], who came and went to sleep under the bed” their first night of marriage (566). This is suggesting that Dinarzad takes part in the sexual acts that go on with the king and Shahrazad. It is almost...