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 think that Shahrayar’s madness comes from his wife being unfaithful to him. I could not really find to many other points to why he would be so upset. On a side note to begin with, I find it kind of funny that almost all of these stories there is a problem that results from a woman. Now, don’t get me wrong the guys in the story act like barbarians for the most part in all instances but I just thought it is starting to be a reoccurring theme in the stories we read. With that being said, I can probably justify his anger because he was cheated on and that would be a reason to get angry. As far as the male egos, I think that his is not a special case necessarily special because all of the stories seem to involve a mad man but I do think his is justified. By that I mean that he had the right to be mad because his wife was unfaithful to him.
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?
The tale of the Merchant and His Wife is that of one where the woman is wearing the pants in the relationship. The animals talked about represent that the man has more physical power than the woman and she should not be controlling him through mind games. He recognizes this and realizes he needs to take back the power. This is also shown with the Merchant and the Demon as the Demon has great control over the merchant too. Again the merchant decides to take charge and take over the power. I do not think gender matters in this instance. If someone wants to be in charge, they can be in charge.
3. Do you believe the penalties suffered are appropriate to the sins committed in Dante’s Inferno? Why or why not?
I’m not sure what I thought about some of the punishments. I think that they were a little horrific to read about such as when they talked about having to go in a vat of boiling blood if you had been violent. However, Hell is a very terrifying place and I think that all of these penalties are very possible in a place like that. I feel like that if you are sent to Hell that you did something very wrong and deserve whatever punishment is dealt to you.
I thought it was funny you mentioned the recurring theme of women being the source of men’s problems. My first thought was, here are cultures that put women beneath men, yet men keep getting their knickers in a twist over women who are supposedly inferior to them.