1) The madness is sparked through an unintentional discovery of his wife laying with a “kitchen boy,’ catalyzing Shahrayar’s reevaluation of women and his own view on the nature of human virtue. I believe this story is not meant to show macho versus un-macho sorts of male behavior, but rather the frailty of all seemingly perfect relationships, no matter what society they’re from. Faithfulness, as he discovers, is not a prominent trait, even for someone as important to society as himself. He was not a special case, as his brother can attest.
2) In any poetic/mythical story it is common for animals to be part of the cast, yet the type of animal usually is a strong indicator of the animals’ purpose in the story at hand. For example in the tale of the Ox and the Donkey, where a gifted man could understand his Ox and Donkey conversing about their daily activities. Therefor the Ox discussed how his work day went, what lame food he received, and how extremely tired the combination made him. The Ox further complained about how pampered the Donkey’s life was in comparison. Thus the Donkey recommended playing sick, like a school child does to avoid going to class. Following that the Donkey was recommended to take the place of the Ox by the merchant to the plowman. Thus resulting in the Donkey complaining and the Ox relaxing, only now the Donkey is eager to find a way to get his pampered lifestyle back and return the Ox to his original place behind the whip in the fields. This story to me represents that sometimes the only way to be happy is at the misfortune of others. So perhaps this story also speaks of staying out of other people’s business, or else it could affect your own in a negative way. Because the merchant overheard the conversation of the two animals, the results were unforeseen by the Donkey and maybe that is how Vizier thought his daughter would be affected.
The Tale of the Merchant and his Wife had a good conscience versus bad conscience vibe. Expressing that women should be put in their place, because they live in a patriarchal society. Through the rooster’s influencing the beating of the woman, it showed the daughter that she must respect men and fear the possibility of being beaten if she disobeys.
As for the Tale of the Merchant and the Demon, it presented a story about how a man accidentally killed the demon’s son via high velocity date pits. This story I believe is meant to show that even men are below other life and defenseless to the abilities of nature.
3) Sin is so subjective and the penalties of sinning are decided by those who defined sin. I do not believe the penalties suffered are appropriate because those deciding a person’s need for suffering are as guilty, if not more guilty, as the ones receiving judgment. Sin cannot be used as a way of placing people into different categories of suffering through biased perceptions of what is sin, because that is after all how so much of modern discrimination and hate crimes occur. Not only is a sin subjective, but it is often defined by people who are personally against specific behavior. For some a sin could be the fact that a person believes in a different god, or to others a sin is a person of one ethnicity marrying a person of another. The fact that sins are categorized and religiously subjectively defined is at the root of the issue. The definitions of the types of sin in Dante’s Inferno are very inappropriate, and are all based on people doing innocent things, which just so happen to go against the god. For example the Sixth Circle is for heretics, which only means they do not believe in the same god as those who invented this definition of the sin.