1. How are we to understand Shahrayar’s madness? Does it make sense to you? That is, are male egos in macho societies that frail, or is his a special case?
I would not say that male egos in this type of society are frail. But at the same time, they are not…not frail. The way the female and male relationship is set up is how it has always been based on religion and culture. The King I am sure treated his woman like a princess until, he found her “lying in the arms of one of the kitchen boys…his world turned black’. He went to go seek relief in his brother just to see his brother’s wife cheating. Then they go on a journey and meet this demon’s woman in a chest in the middle of nowhere collecting rings and cheating on the demon!
Shahrayar’s case is not at all special, over the top on his actions he decided to carry out to seek out justification. But think about it like this, if you were cheated on…seen no relationships that worked out faithfully ever in life, would you be skeptical of any ever working out? Shahrayar then decided to sleep with a different woman every night and then kill her. Not that I agree with that, but he would never have to worry about trusting in another woman or having her betray him ever again. I don’t think he was trying to regain his pride or anything, I think he was just a hurt little boy trying to (excessively) make a point.
And to be honest, there are several news stories that we see homicide cases because of cheating significant others…it doesn’t really stray too far from the norm even of today’s relationships.
2. Both the vizier and his daughter, Shahrazad, tell tales that surround their human characters with important animals, but the animals play different roles in the imaginative worlds of father and daughter. Compare and contrast the powers attributed to the animal world in The Tale of the Ox and the Donkey and The Tale of the Merchant and His Wife with those described in The Story of the Merchant and the Demon. How may these differences reflect the contrasting visions of gender relations so central to The Thousand and One Nights?
Vizier’s animals are given human like abilities; they think and talk versus the Merchant and the Demon’s animals who do not speak or think. The Merchant and Demon’s animals are more carriers used to encompass a human spirit. Vizier talks to his daughter about keeping on her own path. He tells her of a story when a donkey tries to help the ox but the donkey ends up taking all the ox’s issues upon himself. He wants her to know if she takes the place of the other young women this will happen to her. The daughter returns with the story of the rooster telling the dog to beat his disobedient wife into submission…even to the point of death. In societies like this, as in what happened to the king, women are second to a man and only if they act how the man wants her to act but Shahrazad’s story will follow up that women are worth more than what society makes them out to be.
In the Merchant and Demon, Shahrazad’s story, the animals are supposed to justify the women. The women did wrong, like the animals, but the animals are forgiven and not killed because they made mistakes. This story helped the King, although hurt and went on a killing spree to justify the wrong doing done unto him that other women who had absolutely nothing to do with what happened to him should not be punished for it. In fact, this story glorifies women a little bit more than the usual.
3. Do you believe the penalties suffered are appropriate to the sins committed in Dante’s Inferno? Why or why not?
The first circle of Hell was for the people who did not worship Christ or did not worship correctly. They just live in limbo, but a lot of these people are people who lived in the times before Christ. I don’t see that as fair. How do you worship what has not happened?
Second circle is those of lust. They are being blown back and forth by winds so they are never to rest. This signifies that they are so restless chasing the wants of the flesh. I actually think this is fair and a slightly clever idea.
The third circle of Hell is for the gluttons, being overlooked by a worm-monster and unable to move by the laying in a slush of ice. I don’t know how I really feel about this, I think it is supposed to symbolize that the persons laying there are looking out amongst the others laying down and they feel the selfishness intensify that they had not felt before. I have no real opinion on this one.
The fourth circle is greed. Here people are seen pushing large rocks with their chests non-stop symbolizing their need during their life to keep pushing towards worldly possessions. I just see that like a jail-bird kind of thing, I guess they are sentenced to work the rest of their life.
The fifth cycle are where the wrathful are fighting each other. I don’t think that needs explaining. I agree here.
The sixth cycle is heresy — condemned to flaming tombs.
The seventh circle are for people like murderers. There are three rings, one is being chased by dogs, one turned into trees and bushes and being fed upon and the last one in a desert of burning sand. I like that idea for murderers but I don’t understand why they aren’t in the last ring.
The eighth circle is Fraud with a flying monster of different attitudes. Pretty much after murderers, I disagree that anything could be worse. Especially fraud I don’t see why that would be in a more inner circle than murder.
The ninth circle is treachery with the inhabitants frozen in an icy lake according to depth and the seriousness of the sin. They are frozen! Are they alive ? Or they feeling the icy fire on their skin? And why is this still past murder? I disagree with this one as well.
Aw man, it didn’t like my picture :(.
So out of your discussion, the pieces that grabbed my attention most were the last two circles of hell. I too was confused at the place these sinners were gathered. Fraud and treachery… Once you spoke about fraud, it did make me think more toward what fraud is and how it can really be taken to a higher level. Maybe, the fraud that actually brings people to that place comes from leading people into their corruption and the loss of their souls and innocence. Some people are just fake, but is that really a sin or is it just insecurity and confusion as to who they should or want to be? Treachery… Sounds like the villain in a story, like Jafar in Alladin!
My interpretation on why fraud and treachery might be worse than murder is because they may affect more people. While murder is horrible, it is usually an individual violence. However, fraud and treachery can encompass groups, communities, or countries. Imagine a fraud prophet or cult leader who lead masses of people down a wrong path. Maybe they are punished more because they are not only ruining the chances of entering heaven for themselves, but those of their followers, too.