Author Archives: kjs93

The Demon of 1001 nights

The demon in the story seems to represent King Shahrayar. The demon tells the story of how he was harmed and, in his opinion, wronged by King Solomon. Although it is in no way the fisherman’s fault that King Solomon threw the demon into the sea, the demon wishes to kill the fisherman. The demon has become set on punishing the innocent fisherman for the harm that others did to him long ago. This story mirrors that of King Shahrayar. Although the maidens whom he sleeps with every night have done him no wrong, he has decided that they are to be punished for his adulterous wife’s sins.

Numerous times within the intertwining stories Shahrazad incorporates the line “For God’s sake spare me, and God will spare you; destroy me, and God will destroy you’ (46). She does this to tug at the King’s conscience. She is once again educating him and pushing him to take responsibility for his actions.

The story which describes the way in which the young man became stone parallels King Shahrayar’s own experience. A young king, who loves and respects his wife dearly, finds that she has had an affair with a black slave. Rather than blaming the entire city, or killing young women, as King Shahrayar does, the young man goes to the source of his problem and wounds the black slave. Although the young man still gets revenge, he realizes that the masses are not to blame for his grievance.

In The Tale of King Yunan and the Sage of Duban, one of the stories within The Fisherman and the Demon, the Sage repeatedly begs King Yunan to spare him but the King refuses and puts the Sage to death. The King’s rage against the Sage ends in his own destruction. In this tale King Shahrayer is reminded of the phrase Shahrazad often repeats “spare me, and God will spare you; destroy me, and God will destroy you’.

At the end of The Fisherman and the Demon the Demon begs for the fisherman’s mercy. Although the demon has, in fact, done the fisherman wrong, the fisherman choses to show mercy on the demon and set him free. The demon keeps his word and honors the fisherman, sparing his life. Intertwined in this story is a clear message. King Shahrayar has a choice; although he has wronged many, as did the demon in the story, he is still able to repent and stop the killing.


Yellow Women, Death, and Trials

1. In the story “Yellow Woman’, the heroine, a woman whose name is never given, is struggling to understand what appears to be the convergence of two realities — the mystical folklore of her ancestors, and her modern day life. Throughout her life she has heard various stories in which a women referred to as “Yellow Women’ is whisked away by a mystical mountain spirit in the form of a man.

As far as can be seen, the man she meets by the river does not initially claim to be Silva. It seems that when the heroine goes down to the river, perhaps hoping these stories are true, she finds a man who is willing to take advantage of her fantasy. He says to the woman “last night you guessed my name and you knew why I had come’ (1205). The fact that she “guessed’ who he was implies that she had romanticized hopes that he would be there to whisk her away when she came to the river.

The Jell-o and the stolen beef bring us glimpses of the modern day reality. The woman fairly readily goes along with Silva’s plans although she does question the reality presented to her saying “I’ve been to school and there are highways and pickup trucks that Yellow Woman never saw’ (1206). For the greater part of the story, however, she views Silva as a mountain spirit rather than as a man who has manipulated and abducted her. I believe the stolen beef — which Silva is willing to kill for — reminds the reader that this man is not a mischievous mountain spirit, but a sinister, virtually unknown and unpredictable man.

At the end of the story when the woman has escaped from Silva she becomes nostalgic, regretting leaving him. As she returns home she wistfully thinks “he will come back sometime and be waiting again by the river’ (1211). Inside the grandmother is helping the son make Jell-o. These two realities, the legends of the past, and the contemporary lifestyle in which they find themselves in are in direct conflict with each other.

  1. The father seems far less involved in Leila’s life. While the mother came and visited her in jail, we are not told that the father did. We are also told that the mother had Leila stay in her own bed so that if Leila was taken away in the night the mother would know and do her best to stop them. It is the mother’s screams, not the father’s protests that are described when Leila is taken away.

The father’s mind seems easily swayed by the opinion of the people. Initially when the trial is going on, he sits in his seat gripped with fear and pain. It is not clear whether this pain is for himself or his daughter. When the crowd sitting in on the trial applauds Leila the father suddenly becomes elated. He considers shouting “I’m her father; I’m Al-Fargani who fathered her and whose name she bears’ (1199). His pride appears to be for himself rather than his daughter; “What if I were to stand up now and reveal my identity to them?’ “Men like us live and die for a moment such as this, for others to recognize us, to applaud us, for us to become heroes with eyes looking at us and fingers pointing at us’ (1199).

When the judge withdraws and the crowd begins to whisper, the father hears various things — good and troubling — said about his daughter. It is not until he hears whispers about his own honor that he becomes distraught. While now hoping his identity will remain hidden from the crowd he thinks, “What is left of a man whose honour is violated?’ and “Death was preferable for him and for her now’ (1200). At this point he also bitterly ruminates on how he chided his daughter for going into politics. Perhaps, he thinks, if she had only listened they would not be in this trouble. It is clear, from observing the father, that he is proud and supportive only when the people are as well. He accepts her when it brings him honor to do so, and disowns her at other times.

3. This story is centered on Senator Onesimo Sanchez, a man who has been told by his doctors that he has not long to live. I believe the title indicates the deep rooted apathy which this man now holds. Although he may find love it does not matter, death is coming. Although he has five children and a wife, it does not matter; his fate is set. Although he makes promises to advance his political career, his career is already doomed. The title, “Death Constant Beyond Love’ indicates that although everything else may come and go, death is sure. For this man the assurance of death has come sooner than he hoped.

The Metamorphosis, Short Stories, and Poems

1.           It seems that the relationship between Gregor and his family is quite poor. The reader is told that prior to Gregor’s metamorphosis, Gregor’s father experienced a great monetary loss when his business collapsed. Gregor, unasked, gives up a more prestigious job to become a traveling salesman in order to provide for his family. The rest of the family memebers, meanwhile, make absolutely no effort to contribute to the income, or to get themselves out of debt. We find out that, although some money from the father’s business did survive, the father has kept this fact hidden, allowing Gregor to pay day to day expenses. Gregor has no doubt become bitter, having given up so much for his unappreciative family. Although the reason for the father’s resentment of Gregor is never revealed, he likely blames Gregor for his feeling of emasculation as a father no longer providing for his family.

The father’s distain for Gregor can be seen by how easily he is able to dehumanize Gregor after the metamorphosis. Rather than testing to see whether Gregor is able to understand him, he immediately assumes he is wild and bent on hurting the family. Gregor’s father in the course of the story herds him with a cane and viciously throws apples at him. Of the three family members, the father is the only one who does not wish to see Gregor or attempt to take care of him. In the beginning, on seeing Gregor’s transformed state, the father initially becomes defensive and seems willing, if need be, to become aggressive. He then suddenly bursts into tears. It does not appear, however, that these are tears of sorrow at Gregor’s state, rather he “looked uncertainly round the living room, covered his eyes with his hands and cried’, as if realizing that without Gregor, the life of ease he is accustomed, symbolized by the walls around him, is about to vanish (953).

2.           There are four central events of The Metamorphoses, each of which result in a change in the family dynamic. The first event is Gregor’s metamorphosis into a cockroach, the second event is Gregor’s injury at the hands of his father, the third is Gregor’s appearance before the three tenants, and the final event is Gregor’s death.

After the initial shock of finding out that Gregor has become a cockroach, the family begins to process what this will mean for them. They obviously can no longer depend on Gregor for income, and so they begin discussing what life changes they must make. This appears to be the first time that the family has communicated with one another. This event unifies them and strengthens them.

The second event occurs when Gregor causes the mother to faint as she is moving his furniture. He leaves his room until the father drives him back. At this point in the story we see the mother and daughter unified in their endeavor to assist Gregor. More importantly we become aware that the father has taken a job. This is the first step in beginning to provide for the family, rather than depending on Gregor. Although Gregor is wounded at this point in the story, the family steadily becomes more self-sufficient, as each member of the family gets a job.

When Gregor, in his greatly weakened state, is seen by the tenants and drives them away, the family no longer sees him as anything more than a nuisance. They realize that they cannot live with him as the skeleton in their closet. At this point in the story they realize that they no longer need Gregor. They are able to take care of themselves. Where Gregor once was their means of living, he is now a burden.

After Gregor’s death the family is able to breathe easy. The burden which has caused them anxiety is removed. They have become masters of their own livelihood and have learned to look to the future. Rather than seeing their state as a tragedy they are content and foresee only good times ahead.

3.            I do not think that Requiem is especially effective as a political protest. The injustices which its pages reveal were not lessened by its writing. It seems to be more of a tribute. It functions well as a memorial to her son and to all others who were detained, tortured, forced to work, and murdered under Stalin’s rule. By causing future generations to remember, Akhmatova may have been attempting to ensure that that sort of injustice would never occur again. In that sense, perhaps her plea was effective; she cannot change the past, but perhaps she is able to influence political decisions of the future.

    4.           In the text I read about Rainer Maria Rilke’s fascination with ancient art. He once wrote a letter to a friend detailing his ecstasy at revelations experienced while viewing artwork, “one day one of them reveals itself to you, and shines like a first star’ (905). After experiencing such an event, Rilke seems to never be quite the same. His understanding of art causes a shift within himself. I believe this is what he means in his command “You must change your life’ (908). After the stone has revealed itself “there is no place that does not see you’ (908). There is no place that one can escape from this new knowledge. He is not content living as before, but must change himself in light of the new reality revealed by the beauty of the stone.


A Simple Heart, Punishment, Poems

  1. Felicite is a very kind hearted, yet simple-minded servant. She is simple-minded due, I believe, to lack of opportunity rather than lack of effort. Being orphaned, Felicite had no education and, lived in virtual social isolation. Although uneducated, Felicite is described as an extremely diligent and hardworking women. The things she does, she does well. When Felicite had the opportunities to learn, such as when she went with Virginie to catechism, she took full advantage of them.

While Felicite may have been simple, she loved deeply. I do believe that she cared more for Mme. Aubain’s children then did the madam herself. Felicite was able to think of her own family as well as that of Mme. Aubain. The character of Mme. Aubain is displayed in her thought for Felicite. When Felicite mentioned that she had not heard from her nephew in six months, Mme. Aubain initially didn’t remember who Felicite was talking about, then promptly dismissed Victor as less important than her own daughter. When Felicite finds out about Victor’s death, Mme. Aubain does not attempt to console her or grieve alongside her, but instead leaves her by herself. Felicite is expected to continue with the household chores as if nothing had happened.


  1. I had trouble finding any consistency in the way that women are described throughout these poems. In Leda and the Sawn, the girl is described as being at the mercy of the Swan. Leda is depicted as the “staggering girl’ who is “mastered by the brute blood of the air’ (853). In the poem Among the School Children, the teacher of a school is a nun. Teachers are thought to be stable, firm, and reliable, rather than helpless, as women in some other poems which we read were characterized.

Baudelaire describes and affirms qualities of women, such as shapeliness, femininity, and beauty. He does not describe qualities of a woman’s personality, instead focusing on their physical attributes. Women are portrayed as an asset which men must work to hold on to. Men must take full advantage of this asset for as long as they can because at any moment, Baudelaire conveys, it might vanish. In the poem Her Hair, Baudelaire describes a lover who stays only because she receives from his hand “stars of sapphire, pearl, ruby’ (602). Without these gifts the women will be “deaf to my (the speaker’s) desire’ (602). In A Carcass the speaker describes the fate of his lover. Although he adores her now and appreciates her physical beauty, she will inevitably become a thing of disgust, moldering into the ground. The speaker has his lover for only a short time before she becomes despicable.

Baudelaire does not describe men to the extent to which he describes women. Men are typically the ones speaking. When a relationship is described, they are the one who are working to hold onto a women. Men are depicted as the more thoughtful and used of the sexes.


  1. Rama and Sita have a great love for eachother based on mutual sacrifice. Sita was willing to give up her comfortable home to move into the forest with the banished Rama. Rama, when Sita was taken, was willing to travel across the earth and battle monsters in order to retrieve his love.

Chidam and Chandara’s love seems to be based on convenience. When each approves of what the other is doing, then they are filled with love. Chidam is willing, however, to sacrifice his own wife to save his guilty brother. Chidam tells Chandara the defense that she should make, hoping to save her. When Chandara realizes the position her husband has put her in, her heart hardens, and she resolves to go to the noose intentionally to spite her husband.

Sita and Chandara are similar in that both of them are portrayed as having a strong will. Chandara, earlier in the story, runs away from her husband’s house, repeatedly going against his wishes. In the end she hard headedly goes to her death, although she is not guilty. Sita is given the opportunity to stay in the palace when Rama leaves, and although Rama begs her to stay behind, she resolves to go along.


  1. In the first stanza of The Second Coming by William Butler Yeats, a number of scenes are described. Each picture is skewed in a slightly horrific way. A falcon, typically directed by his master, “cannot hear the falconer’, a “ceremony of innocence’ is corrupted, “the centre cannot hold’ his post any longer. It is as if Yeat is describing all things of normality as coming to an end, replaced by chaos.

In the second stanza the speaker looks to the future. If everything is turning toward disaster, must not the end be near? The speaker mentions the Christian event of the Second Coming, the event at which the world will end and all will be made right. His tone is desperate, yet confused and mocking. It is as if he does not believe the Second Coming to truly be the answer, but he also doesn’t know what other option there is. If there is no hope of a Second Coming, will the world continue to spiral in despair?

Tartuffe and Poems

1. I think that that the story of Tartuffe discusses the corruption of religion, rather that attacking religion itself. Several times within the play the characters say as much. In act V scene 1 Organ is horrified at that Tartuffe was able to so thoroughly swindle and deceive him. While speaking to Cleante he declares “I’m through with pious men; Henceforth I’ll hate the whole false brotherhood, And persecute them worse than Satan could’ (147). Cleante refutes this assertion stating that Orgon can never take “the middle course but jump(s), instead, between absurd extremes’ (147). He believes that Orgon, attempting to refrain from more such mistakes, has chosen a worse path by choosing to “judge our worthy neighbors’, the clergy, “as a whole’ (147). Cleante’s role in the play is a voice of reason. It is likely that the voice of reason shows the authors true opinions on events within the play.

I think that one of the main purposes of this play is to teach discernment to society, parishioners, and anyone else interested in religion. The take away from the play is not “distrust those holding religious power’ rather, observe them and evaluate whether they are genuine. If they do not, themselves, practice what they preach they should not be esteemed. Tartuffe is called a hypocrite. For there to be such a person as a hypocrite, there must also be someone who is genuine. This leads me to believe that Tartuffe is attacking corruption rather than religion.

2. I don’t see that Satan is a heroic figure. His role is traditionally that of the deceiver, manipulator, and father of lies. I doubt that that displaying Satan as a heroic figure would have been Victor Hugo’s intent.

Satan stands firm against the opposition of God. He is willing to lose everything for the cause of overthrowing God. Some might count these attributes as heroic. The thought of gaining ultimate power, which seems to be Satan’s wished for prize, is enough motive to rebel against God. Satan stands strong in his belief and does not attempt to return to God. Some might call this accepting the call to adventure.

Dante very clearly describes Satan as a tormenter. His location is in the lowest circle of hell, chewing on the two most despicable sinners. Satan is portrayed as a creature who wants to inflict as much pain as possible on God and people. There is no hint of heroism in Dante’s portrayal of Satan.


3. Reading the poems, I noticed some comparable aspects of the imagery in the poems To Sylvia, and The Village Saturday, both by Giacomo Leopardi.

Both poems contain a young girl, portrayed full of life. Each poem intertwines imagery of nature such as flowers, the blue sky, and grass. In each poem, transitions to adulthood are described as “flowering’ (457, 459). The description of “fragrant May’(457) in the first poem and the imagery of roses and violets in the second, indicate that it is the summer months in both poems.

Each poem has a transition point in imagery. In To Sylvia, this occurs when Sylvia dies. The outlook of the speaker is bleaker, describing the darkness of when winter struck, bringing Sylvia’s death. Word choice such as “coldest death’ and “stark sepulcher’ allow us to see the speaker’s despair. In The Village Saturday, the transition comes as day turns to nighttime. It is as if everyone is on alert, anticipating the morning. The speaker tells us to “listen’ to the sounds of the night as last minute preparations are made by individuals “hurrying by lamplight’ (459).

The poems differ in that in To Sylvia, the only characters are Sylvia and the speaker. A slight mention is made of ambiguous “friends’. In The Village Saturday, numerous villagers are mentioned.


On Hair, Politics and War: Week 10

  1. His perspective is a perplexing one. Machiavelli argues throughout The Prince that princes cannot be expected to be perfect. It seems that those of his time who were critiquing princes believed that all such authority figures must attain to a number of specific qualities. Several such admired attributes included generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, and straightforwardness. In Machiavelli’s opinion, because no man is without fault, no prince can meet the standards which they are held to by society.

I agree that political figures and those in authorities cannot meet the expectations which they are often held to. There is not a person who is able, truthfully, to claim to have every kind and self-denying attribute. I believe in this sense Machiavelli’s perspective, on political ideals which do not match reality, still applies today.

Although Machiavelli argues that a perfect ruler cannot be attained, he simultaneously describes his version of what an ideal prince would look like. He describes a ruler who would be able to discern in such a way as to make the ideal judgments for each situation. This man would be respected and feared, but would at the same time be thought of as kind, loving, and religious. He would know when to keep promises and when to break them; he would understand when to be gentle and when to be cruel. Although these expectations are not consistent with what were commonly thought of as ideals at this time, they are still expectations which no man could meet. I believe this way of thinking is far more prevalent today. People do not expect political figures to be honest or caring, but they expect them to have social savvy and make the best possible judgments. Even though the expectations have changed since earlier times, they are just as impossible to meet.


  1. In Muslim cultures, the covering of the hair is highly important. I believe it is because hair is synonymous with their beauty, and their beauty is traditionally meant only for their husbands. I understand that women’s hair is often a highly sexual symbol, although I do not entirely understand why.

This theme can be seen even in fairy tales such as Rapunzel. The act of letting down her hair has a much more symbolic meaning of vulnerability and sexuality than is often emphasized.

In the bible there is a story in which Mary, the sister of Lazarus, pours perfume on the feet of Jesus and cleans his feet with her hair. As shocking as this would be in our culture, it would be far more so in a culture where hair is covered and highly honored. Mary was symbolically saying that compared to the honor Jesus deserved, the sum of her glory was nothing more than a foot towel.

I see how greatly women’s hair has been esteemed throughout history, but I do not know where this honor came from. It is possible that it is simply a result of the traditional roles of men and women. Men are typically thought of as the ones who are hardworking, and who get dirty and grimy. Because of this long hair on men would perhaps be an inconvenience and even a health hazard. Because women have traditionally stayed at home they would, perhaps, have an easier time staying clean.


  1. I think that the flowers are related to the honor of bringing captives from war. It is hard to discern whether the flowers represent the physical bodies of the captives, or the spiritual blessings and societal honors which such captives bring upon the triumphant warriors.

The “song’ is even more difficult to decipher. In the first sentence the speaker says he is “cleaver with a song’ which makes me think that a song represents skill in war. As I read on however, the description of the song in not consistent with skill in war. It could perhaps represent the spirit within individuals which drives them to war, or the pride which motivates warriors to fight for their families.

The Decameron and other tales

  1. Gualtieri had never desired to marry. He tells his friends that he had set his mind “firmly against’ doing so (1357). After much pressing from his friends around him, he resolves to marry. Even after he decides to do so he is filled with dread. He is certain that the marriage will, more likely than not, end badly, or that he will be left miserable with an ill-suited wife.

So skeptical Gualtieri is of women, that he torments his wife Griselda, pushing her far beyond a typical woman’s breaking point. By testing her in such a way he hopes to see whether her compliant disposition will change, or whether she will continue to unquestioningly follow her husband’s desires.

So far does Gualtieri push Griselda that it seems that he wishes her to fail his tests. It is interesting that to Gualtieri, the mark of a good wife is one who does not ever question her husband, even when his actions are morally unjust.


  1. In The Thousand and One Nights the stories were formed and articulated in such a way as to stall for time. They were also meant to educate the King; to give him a new perspective. By changing the King’s viewpoint the vizier’s daughter hoped to change his heart and keep him from murdering more women. The stories were extremely successful in stalling for time and, over time, the heart of the King did change. In this circumstance the relationship between the tale and the teller is extremely important, because through the fabric of the tale the King was able to get to know Shahrazad as a person rather than a threat or enemy.

The stories of the Decameron are meant to be nothing more than a distraction. They are meant to keep the horrors of the world off of the listeners mind. The servants who work for the ten young people are commanded to bring no news that is negative of the outside world, but only tidings of happiness and joy. The stories are meant to build and alternate reality.

I do not think the stories do a very good job of uplifting the mood of the party. The stories, although they end joyfully or humorously, have sorrowful undertones. In the story of the First Day, the main character is a depraved man who is supposed to have gone to hell. In the tale of the Fifth Day, the only way Nastagio is able to convince his lover to marry him is by threatening her with punishments she may face in the afterlife. Throughout the Tenth Day story, Gualtieri is lying to and tormenting his wife. It is odd that these stories, full of sorrow, would be the choice of entertainment for those who wish to shut out sorrow. Perhaps these stories demonstrate that sorrows, although ignored, still exist. I do think that these tales fulfill their purpose as a distraction. It is also likely that the stories reveal a great deal about the teller’s view of themselves, the world, and society.


  1. The nightingale represents the unattainable love of the women and the knight. The bird represents freedom, its beautiful songs are the words of love spoken between the lovers. Their love seems so natural. As easily as the nightingale hides itself in the trees, they are able to hide their love from the eyes of her husband. Just like the nightingale’s song, it can be enjoyed from their windows at night without prying eyes. The hope of their love, like the bird, is snuffed out. With the nightingale dead, the women has no pretense to go to the window at night. It seems, however, that had they attempted, they would have been able to see each other at other times. After the death of the bird, the women and the knight cannot pretend anymore. They accept their fate; they will never love each other and they will therefore never love again.


Dante’s Journey through Hell

1. What do you think Dante learned on his journey through Hell? How does it differ from what you learned while reading about the journey?

I think Dante, during his journey through Hell, was able to see God’s justice. He saw individuals whom he had known or heard about throughout his life being punished for their wrong doing. I think it took a journey through Hell, literally or figuratively, for Dante to cope with life on this earth. Many people wonder why a God who claims to love people allows horrible things to happen to them. I think Dante would argue that God allows people to act how they please, and that those actions have detrimental effects on themselves and the people around them. Perhaps this is why God allows horrible things to happen to people. It is their choices and the choices of those around them that allows suffering to occur. Dante gets a glimpse of another reality, or perhaps a different part of the same reality, in which God has stopped putting up with those who cause suffering. He has put an end to their glory and keeps them locked in punishments they devised for themselves.

I think what I learned from his journey differed greatly from what Dante learned. I learned a lot about Catholic belief systems about heaven and hell. I learned that Dante had a lot of questions which he attempted to answer through his journey through hell. I have already thought through many of the questions which I think Dante sought to answer for himself through this story, so its effect was not as dramatic on me as perhaps it could have been.


Through Hell and a Kingdom

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.


The Right Choice

  1. Rama accepts the hardships with which he is confronted, because he is devoted to dharma and believes that “prosperity and pleasure surely follow dharma’(731). He believes that his live can only be bettered by following his dharma. I think Rama is just as interesting as any other hero. I find it intriguing that he can whole heartedly and blindly follow dharma. I think this faith reveals an intricate character.

Rama seems to fall from perfection when Sita is kidnapped. Instead of trusting in dharma, he is stricken with grief and doubts the choice that he has made in leaving Sita alone as he did. He does not trust that this is the will of his god, or the path of dharma. It seems that the only way Rama can truly trust in dharma is if he distances himself from all emotion. In this way he is able to see past his own emotion to the will of god. This way of thinking fits with the Hindu practice of emptying the mind.

In the story we see how Kaikeya becomes ruled by her emotions and therefor sends Rama to the forest. She shows her lack of trust in dharma by attempting to put her favorite son on Rama’s throne. Although she attempts to use the boons for her own gain, in the end her actions were guided by the will of god.

  1. In the tale of Medea, Medea is caught in a struggle between what she considers to be her duty, and what she believes to be necessary. As a mother, she feels a responsibility for the welfare of her children. As a scorned wife she feels that her life is not worth continuing to live unless revenge is achieved.

Arjuna despairs because he faces an impossible choice: to kill his own relatives, or to abandon the fight entirely, therefor shirking his duty as a soldier. I believe that although “choice’ is an important theme in both of these stories, the motivations behind the heroes’ choices are vastly different. Media wishes to revenge herself. Her actions are totally self-seeking and self-promoting. Arjuna does not seem to be self-seeking. He does not seek revenge, but instead tries to discern how to harm none while retaining his honor.

This same struggle is mirrored in the story of Abraham. After being chosen by a God who has led Abraham in safety and promised him a good future, this same God asks Abraham to sacrifice his only son. Abraham must now choose where his loyalties lie: with his son, who is his only earthly hope at decedents, or with God, who has power over the earth, Abraham’s life, and certainly over the life and death of Isaac. In this story Abraham is challenged to decide what holds ultimate importance, his own vision of life, or the vision of life held by God.