The Thousand and One Nights was translated in writing in the 14th century. In the 14th century, women had very little significance in society. Women were the property of men and had very little influence over men. Or did they? A woman’s power came from their sexuality and through it they could control men. Sexuality in The Thousand and One Nights was used by women as a weapon to control men’s actions, thoughts, and emotions.
Women in The Thousand and One Nights use their sexuality to control their husband’s actions. The first example of a woman controlling her husband with their sexuality is in the beginning of the story when Shahzaman was invited by his brother Shahrayar to visit his kingdom. Shahzaman was getting ready for his journey and he walked in on his wife having sex with one of the kitchen staff. “As his anger boiled, he drew his sword and struck both his wife and the cook. The he dragged them by the heels and threw them from the top of the palace to the trench below” (Lawall 1773). Shahzaman’s wife controlled his actions by betraying him. Shahzaman’s actions would not have normally been influenced by his wife if she had not slept with the cook. Unfortunately, her influence on her husband’s actions leads to her death.
Another example of women controlling men’s actions is when Shahzaman tells his brother Shahrayar that his wife and concubines have been having sex with slaves in the garden while Shahrayar is away from the palace. Shahrayar does not believe his brother and Shahzaman tells his brother, “Then you and I shall set out with your troops, and when we get outside the city, we shall leave our tents and camp with the men behind, enter the city secretly, and go together to your palace. Then the next morning you can see with your own eyes” (Lawall 1775). In order to find out if Shahzaman is telling the truth Shahrayar is forced to go along with Shahzaman’s plan. Shahrayar’s wife influences his actions to find out the... [continues]
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