March 5th, 2012
Arabian Nights Essay
Fantasy our Daily Determination
The art of storytelling is the oldest and most captivating art form man has ever produced. Each and every one of us has been lead on a path by a story so unique that each path can only be traveled once with no chance of return or pause along the way. The reason these stories create a one-time offer is due to the mysterious element of fantasy that no man can ever lack or cease to exist. Fantasy is a genre of fiction that commonly uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary element of plot, theme, or setting. Though formal in definition the fantasy defined above is only the tip of the iceberg because fantasy can be created in one’s mind at a moments notice. Kieran Egan an education professor at Simon Fraser University states that, “fantasy is the most valuable attribute of the human mind; it enriches children’s spiritual development, and is the most important tool for orienting ourselves to reality”(3). This quote pinpoints why fantasy stories have been with us since the start of man and why books like “The Arabian Nights” are so popular thousands of years after there first dictations. Each story read from “Arabian Nights” has different fantasy elements in it, these elements captivate us and bring us inside the stories and are exactly what we connect to, not as a form of “escapism” but to help fuel our own determination to fulfilling our own fantasies. Many of these stories are read to us while we are just children and even though we a very young and do not understand the literary connections we still are subconsciously analyzing each action as the story unfolds as our own. “The Arabian Nights” stories are not popular because they are well written and interesting but are popular because they helped form our world today, a world of individuals trying to be their own heroes striving to become successful and thus in turn have developed capitalism as the basis for our world’s economy. Stories involving fantasy can both be argued to be beneficial and detrimental in shaping our realities today, but the one thing we cannot dispute is that fantasy captivates our minds and brings us together as individuals determined to fight like Sinbad for our every want and desire.
In “The Arabian Nights” the main storyteller, Shahrazard, a woman held by the Sultan and on the verge of death every day, is able to postpone her fate each night for one thousand and one nights by entrapping the Sultan in her stories of fantasy. Although the Sultan is portrayed as a ruthless murderer who is selfish and without reason, Shahrazard uses fantasy to quell his impulses and begins to form a connection between herself and the Sultan by initiating parallels between the stories and their own realities.
While reading stories from “The Arabian Nights” many people do not realize that the underlying theme is not these fantastic elements but actually storytelling in itself. In both “The Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor” and “The Porter and the Three Ladies of Baghdad” stories are told within the story by characters of the story. This aspect is very interesting and was brought to light by amateur author, Sarah Ellis, who decided to partake in a forty-eight hour reading of “The Arabian Nights” on a retreat with thirty-nine other enthusiasts. In the midst of listening to tellers’ depiction of their favorite “Arabian Nights” story, Ellis realizes that, “we are actually telling a story within a story within a story; we were storytellers telling stories about storytellers” (2). Although this seems a bit far-fetched and irrelevant it is that type of thinking that leads many readers and listeners to miss this concept. Sinbad telling stories of his voyages to the porter and the storytelling by the three ladies and visitors provides a perfect example of how people connect to stories of fantasy and use that connection to not only better understand the teller and their...