- Sharhrayar is driven mad by his wife’s infidelity. There are several reasons which this could have happened. Traditionally men are the head of the family. In this society it would be impossible to be respected if one cannot control even their own household. Sharhrayer will be dishonored when the people of the kingdom find out that his wife has been committing adultery under his own nose. His subjects may begin to wonder if he has the power to rule a kingdom when he does not know what is going on in his own house. I can see how, for this reason, Shahrayar’s madness could be explained. The only way that he can prove to the kingdom, and to himself, that he is in control, is by killing each of his new wives.
I think Shahrayer’s madness could be explained in a slightly different way however. It is possible that he truly did love and trust his wife. Betrayel of that kind might keep a man from never loving again. His actions could have been driven, not from a “macho’ male ego, but from a broken heart. After being hurt by someone he believed in fully, he thinks all women are devils. The best way to deal with them is to use them exterminate them. In this way he would be driven by the motivation of revenge, rather than attempting to keep in the good favor of the public.
- When the vizier describes animals he describes them as thoughtful and scheming. The donkey and the Ox make plans to lighten their work load. They are portrayed as strong and able to work with skill in their own niche. As of these characters are male it is possible that the vizier, although subconsciously, is hinting that only males are equipped to succeed.
Once again, in The Tale of the Merchant and His Wife, the animals are characterized as thoughtful and interested in their master’s business. As in the previous tale, the animals that take center stage — the dog and the rooster — are male characters. The only female animals which the tale describes are the ones being beat into submission and bred by the rooster. I think the fairly graphic terms in which the breeding of the hens was described was designed to portray extreme male dominance. Also it is interesting that this story, is a poorly veiled threat. The vizier is basically threatening that either he or the king is going to beat Shahrazd into submission.
The animals in Shahrazd’s stories are not true animals at all, but humans turned into animals. In these stories the humans scheme and plot, but when they are turned into animal form their plotting is over. The animals are portrayed as helpless, and in some cases even the victim of the story. In The Merchant and the Demon, women are not helpless, but strategize just like the men. Women are also punished for their wrong deeds. The demon women in the story of the man with the dogs is portrayed as powerful and adept. The end goal of Shahrazd’s stories, I believe, is to show the King his own error in killing women, to show that women can be trusted, and to plant a seed that women can play more roles than simply submission.
- I thought it was interesting how many different punishments were described in Dante’s Inferno. Each punishment was so separate from the others. It made me wonder what would happen to people who were guilty of multiple sins. If you were a liar, a glutton, and lustful, which of the punishments would you go to?
I thought many of the penalties were appropriate. A number of them were similar to what the individual desired on earth, except horribly and horrifically magnified. One such that comes to mind is the punishment for the violent. These individuals on earth desired nothing more than the blood of their enemies. Now they must be tormented forever in vats of boiling blood. Another such group were the pimps and the seducers. These had been the sellers and enticers of sex. These, who had spent so much time trying to get others naked are punished by being forever naked.
I wondered why these individuals did not seem to be too distressed by being tormented. Their senses seem to be with them enough to stop and have conversations. I also thought it was odd how little control God seems to have in these areas of hell.