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Do The Stories In 1001 Nights Relate To The Journey English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1575 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The story of the The Arabian Nights is that of two kings, the oldest Shahrayar, and his brother Shahzaman. The core of the story is about King Shahrayar, and his journey through life. In retaliation of his wife’s infidelity he undoubtedly turns into a demon and takes vengeance on every virgin living throughout the land he ruled, first taking them to his bed and when morning came he bed his vizier to kill the women. This continues until all the girls perish and while the mother and father’s morn they called the plague upon the vizier. The vizier tells his two daughters what has happened, Shahrazad, the oldest daughter demands that her father take her to the king. This is the coming of her influence on the king turning him from a demon to a kind man through tales, some of which are about men and their journeys through life. The stories are of man and the forgiveness of others that have betrayed them and the kindness and sympathy for others is something they share in common. Another story is of a man’s honor his regret, and that takes responsibility for killing a demons son, by keeping his word to return a year later to the demon and face death.

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A frame story is an overall unifying story within which one or more tales are related. In the single story, the opening and closing constitutes a frame. In the cyclical frame story-that is, a story in which several tales are related-some frames are externally imposed and only loosely bind the diversified stories the frame story leads readers from the first story into the smaller one within it. (Wikipedia)

In addition, brilliantly the frame narrative allows parables to be included, for instance in The Tale of the Ox and the Donkey the moral lesson-‘keep your nose out of other people’s business’ is taught ‘Be careful what you wish for’ in The Tale of the Merchant and His Wife. This is for the purposes of teaching morals by means of short stories at the same time add meaning and value to the main story.

How does Shahrazad’s frame story differ from a traditional travel narrative?

Shahrazad’s tale will begin telling other characters a story of his own, and that story may have another one told within it, resulting in a richly layered narrative texture. The Thousand and One Nights, in which Shahrazad avoids death by telling her king-husband a story every night and leaving it incomplete, is example of a frame story. Shahrazad’s stories are interpretations of those told to by her farther, the vizier and she does not include herself in the story.

A traditional narrative also known as travel literature a form of narrative that recounts the incidents that occur and the people and the things that the narrator meets and sees while visiting a place with which she or he is typically unfamiliar. (Bedford Anthology of World Literature Glossary)

“The travel book is any narrative characterized by a non-fiction dominant that relates (almost always) in the first person a journey or journeys that the reader supposes to have taken place in reality while assuming or presupposing that author, narrator and principal character are but one or identical”. (Perspectives on travel writing

By Glenn Hooper, Tim Youngs page 7)

Fate and destiny

My perception of the theme fate and destiny is the kind of story that introduces a “main character”, to the story and though the reader may not know it the story continues to unfold consequently (“fate”) adding value to the role gradually revealing this “main character”, it redirects the story, or then story becomes inconsistent. The idea of purpose (“destiny”) starts to reveal itself by means of an anomaly. Although there are many instances within the story that are examples of fate and destiny, the beginning of the story where It was fate that these two kings were married to women that were unfaithful, it ultimately became their destiny and remarry women who they truly loved and live happily ever after.

In addition to fate and destiny the author brilliantly includes parables, for instance in The Tale of the Ox and the Donkey the moral lesson-‘keep your nose out of other people’s business’ is defined. ‘Be careful what you wish for’ in The Tale of the Merchant and His Wife.

A common theme in many Arabian Nights tales is fate and destiny. The Italian filmmaker, novelist, poet, intellectual journalist, linguist, philosopher Pier Paolo Pasolini observed:

” every tale in The Thousand and One Nights begins with an ‘appearance of destiny’ which manifests itself through an anomaly, and one anomaly always generates another. So a chain of anomalies is set up. And the more logical, tightly knit, essential this chain is, the more beautiful the tale. By ‘beautiful’, I mean vital, absorbing, and exhilarating. The chain of anomalies always tends to lead back to normality. The end of every tale in the One Thousand and One Nights consists of a ‘disappearance’ of destiny, which sinks back to the somnolence of daily life … The protagonist of the stories is in fact destiny itself. “

Identify parts of the story that contain repetitive designation. What does it do to the story?

The sleeping quarters King Shahrayar had built for his brother, the details of the palace windows overlook the garden did not become relevant until Shahsamaz looked out these very same windows overlooking the garden to witness his wife and girl-slaves defiance. The dates the merchant packed for his journey, the man with ‘the deer’, the man with the ‘two dogs’, both passing through the woods and come across the merchant. Shahrazad is introduced in the very beginning of the story as daughter of the vizier and mentioned several times, her significance to the story starts being revealed when the brother return home from meeting the sea demon. Repetitive designation slowly reveals what is to develop in the story and gives the reader the pleasure of recognition and the significance of the character or object.

How reliable is the narrator and how does this influence your interpretation of the story?

In my opinion, this story was the best so far, though I am left somewhat baffled as to whether a narrator existed other than Shahrazad. I believed this story to be a cliffhanger, without a doubt. At the end of each frame, I was left yearning for more and exhilarated with curiosity for what was to come. When Shahsamaz tells Shahrayar what he had witnessed through the palace window, on page 445 (-how ten slaves dressed like women were sleeping with his women and concubines, day and night. He told him everything from beginning to end (but there is no point in repeating that). More important on page 443 it reads (while the ten slaves topped the ten girls, and they carried on till noon.). Why was this in the story? Was this on purpose? This could be proof that there is a reliable narrator.

Due to this story, I was able to really open my mind. After I read about how the 20 slave girls changed clothes and became 10 slave girls and 10 black slaves, I had to reread this a couple times, I was not allowing myself to open my mind to fantasy. At this point, I fell deeply enlightened and became part of this journey through fantasy. It allowed imagination and a new understanding, live in fantasy and accept the story as fiction and a work of art.

This type of literature can fall under many sub-genres.

Citings and resources

Jan Borm, ‘Defining Travel: On the Travel Book, Travel Writing and Terminology,’ in Perspectives on Travel Writing, ed. Glenn Hooper and Tim Youngs (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004), p. 14.


The Thousand and One Nights. Translated by Husain Haddawy. In The Norton Anthology: World Masterpieces. Expanded edition. Volume 1. New York: Norton, 1995, 1514-1540.

Youngs, Travellers in Africa: British Travelogues, 1850-1900 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1994), p.

a b Heath, Peter (May 1994), “Reviewed work(s): Story-Telling Techniques in the Arabian Nights by David Pinault”, International Journal of Middle East Studies (Cambridge University Press) 26 (2): 358-360 [359-60]

IIrwin, Robert (2003), The Arabian Nights: A Companion, Tauris Parke Palang-faacks, p. 200, ISBN 1860649831

#^ Irwin, Robert (2003), The Arabian Nights: A Companion, Tauris Parke Palang-faacks, pp. 199-200, ISBN 1860649831


Tim Youngs, Travellers in Africa: British Travelogues, 1850-1900 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1994), p.

Dictionary.com Unabridged

Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2010.

© Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.. Retrieved April 13, 2010, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/frame story

frame story. Dictionary.com. © Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.. Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc..

“frame story.” © Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.. Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.. 13 Apr. 2010. .


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