Not your average bedtime story The Arabian Nights is a book with no author its tales immerge from the trade routes and centers of the Middle East. A thousand nights and a night refers to one story that is wrapped around others and is an assembly of wonder, tales of magic, mysticism, eroticism and comedy. It’s a book of dark tales and ruthless men in ancient times. Women were not valued only punished if they did wrong to their men. The very beginning of this web of tales starts with King Shahryar sends for his younger brother Shah Zaman and, Scheherazade, King Shahryar’s wife, she tells stories just to stay alive.

These tales are about lust and the fear of betrayal, power, love, and are full of angles and cliff hangers. This is not something you read to children instead of Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast, so in reading the two tales that follow, this lovely and educated woman tells of The Fisherman and the Jinni and The Ensorcelled Prince revealing more than the reader expects. Islamic values appear throughout the readings of The Arabian Nights. Before Shaha Zaman’s departure to his brother’s palace he returns to his chambers to find that his queen has committed adultery with a “blackamoor” and was grief-stricken.

Eventually King Shahryar suffers the same fate as his wife too is caught with a slave. The unfaithfulness of the women to their husbands goes against the Islamic beliefs. Both had been done a great shame so they set forth wondering and King Shahryar declares, “Let us up as we are and depart forthright hence, for we have no concern with kingship, and let us overwander Allah’s earth, worshiping the Almighty till we find someone to whom the like calamity hath happened. And if we find none then will death be more welcome to us than life. After the King found someone, a jinni, who had suffered a greater happening, both returned to their kingdoms and King Shahryar “swore to himself that whatever wife he married he would abate her maidenhead at night and slay her next morning, to make sure of his honor. For, said he, “there never was nor is there one chaste woman upon the face of earth. ” This is where Scheherazade starts her tales. The second of her stories is full of unfaithfulness and justice called The Ensorcelled Prince where a Prince finds his wife also in the arms of a slave. The points of being unfaithful are key in the stories nd are looked down upon not only in Islamic culture but throughout the world. Unfaithfulness is a crime not left unpunished and is awarded with justice. King Shahryar and his brother both put their wives to death upon their discovery. The Prince was wronged by his wife but is unable to put her to death for she had the power to cast a spell on him. Half of his body is turned to stone and his upper body remains young so he is helpless. The sad prince is heard in his palace by a King whom the prince tells his tale. After hearing what the Prince had endured the King would bring him justice and kill his wife.

By doing this, the Prince was free, the Kingdom restored, and its people were back to their normal lives. The punishment of death for the justice of another is cruel, and it shows the culture finds this value important. In the beginning of The Arabian Nights, the two kings find an Ifrit and a jinni after they vowed to wonder the earth until they found someone with a similar experience. The Jinni had been stolen away on her wedding night by the Ifrit who hid her for himself. In a rebellious act she has lain with several hundred lovers.

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Scheherazade at this point has brought along her sister for help and instructs her on how to convince the King on letting her tell another story. So goes her first story, the story of the Fisherman and the Jinni. The elderly fisherman casts his net only four times a day. On this one particular day he catches no fish for three times he throws the net. Discouraged he prays and throws the net for the last time and pulls up a jar sealed with a leaden cap stamped with the seal ring of Lord Solomon. Upon opening the jar smoke “spired heavenward” that became a Jinni. The fisherman is told by the Ifrit he will die with his choosing of death.

The man asks his crime and thereupon the jinni speaks and since she has been stuck there for many years she has vowed death to the next that frees her. It is only through tricking the jinni back into the bottle does the fisherman get away with his life. Pleading to the fisherman not to toss her back to the water says “Allah upon thee, O Fisherman, don’t! Spare me, and pardon my past doings, and as I have been tyrannous, so be thou generous, for it is said among sayings that go current: ‘O thou who doest good to him who hath done thee evil, suffice for the ill-doer his ill deeds, and do not deal with me as did Umamah to ‘Atikah. ” The fisherman releases the Jinni and she gives him four colored fish to bring to the King. Trickery was also used when the king had released the prince from his wife’s powers while pretending to be the love of the wife; the king hides and kills the woman. The Prince’s people are restored (having before been turned into four different colors of fish) and his kingdom back to its former glory (instead of being a pond back to the kingdom), the king before revealing his deception and ends the woman’s pitiful life.

So, for each story Scheherazade tells is full of cleverness, and mystery which shows us some of the cultures values as well as faithfulness’s importance and justice for the people. In the end Scheherazade convinces King Shahryar to spare her life and live happily ever after. This is defiantly not your average bedtime story. Works cited The Arabian Nights. Comp. Richard Burton, 1850. Cornell University Library, Cornell University, n. d. Web. 20 Feb. 2011.


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