Question Topics 1. Discuss the portrayal of the men and women in the Arabian Nights. Are we supposed to be sympathetic to the brothers who discover their wives' unfaithfulness? Discuss the rationality or irrationality of King Shahrayar's plan. How does the story try to get our loyalty for one character over another? Be sure to keep your discussion of gender focused on what the text suggests.
There are some major differences in how men and women are portrayed in the Arabian Nights. The main difference is that women are seen as an object and not as people. This is because of the unfaithfulness of both of the King’s wives. Both Kings are brothers and they catch their wives cheating on them. They both decide that all women cheat because of their cunningness to men. The older King decides that he will avoid this by marrying a virgin every night then kill her in the morning. He feels that this will prevent the women from cheating on him or any other man. Killing all the women after a night with them is very irrational because the kingdom will eventually run out of women for him to marry. The story makes the reader feel for the side of the women that the King is using.
Shahrazard is the main character of the story. She lives in the Kingdom and decides that the king cannot have this power over women anymore. One day she volunteers to marry the king. Everyone sees this as madness but she knows that she can entice the king. She does this by telling him stories every night but does not finish them so the king will not kill her in the morning. She hopes that she has the intellectual ability to keep the king interested. All the stories she tells are about females, which are told over a period of 1001 nights.
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