Arabian Nights and the Comedy

  1. To an extent we can understand Shahrayar’s madness as one born from betrayal then cynicism. However, his method of trying to outwit cunning women is not clever, just an exertion of his power. I do not think it is a matter of male egos being frail. His initial reaction, though very extreme in killing his wife and her lover, is a hot rage that I imagine most men would feel. I don’t think it is a special case in that any man could be hurt and at a loss when they are cheated on, and that there can be general distrust and, in worse cases, contempt towards women after the event. In killing women, he was deterring being hurt ever again. As harsh as his response was, the base line is that he didn’t want his heart broken again. Most people build up walls or are cautious after experiencing getting cheated on. Even though other people aren’t to blame, it’s baggage that you carry with you until you heal from it.


  1. The storied that the vizier told his daughter, the Tale of the Ox and the Donkey and that of the Merchant and his wife were meant to serve as a warning of the extreme consequences that would befall her for her plan. In the story of the Donkey and the Ox, she represents the Donkey, who is trying to save others from the fate, but in doing so only serves as a substitute. He is trying to explain that by volunteering, she is not helping anyone but just temporarily filling in a space and will have the same fate as the rest. The second story is to try and further clear her misconceptions of how the night will end. Even though she plans to outwit the King, he is dominant to her, a woman, despite her best attempts. The Story of the Merchant and the Demon is supposed to show even when people, particularly women, do something wrong, they can be forgiven.


  1. I am not completely convinced that the penalties suffered are appropriate to the sins committed. Growing up, I learned that each commandment was equally important: to break one sin was of equal consequence as another. I also do not think it is appropriate to judge what other people do. I am very much a believer of, “he that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.’ That being said, I do think that there are actions that are especially bad, and in order to preserve intrinsic value of what is right, a suitable punishment should be given. In the end they are all being punished by having to go to helI, or at least a kind of purgatory. It does seem to fit that once there, the severity would differ. The limbo described in the Comedy reminds me of reading the final story of the Chronicles of Narnia. Those who are not believers are left in a limbo of their mind’s own design, trapped there.