Theme Of Sexism In The Thousand And One Nights

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The book, The Thousand and One Nights, is an intriguing story. It has one overarching story with several other stories being told by the various characters of the main storyline. However, behind this main story arc and the several other minor story arcs, lies a common theme, sexism. Several of the male characters in The Thousand and One Nights display their sexism in the way they act and think, and even the main female character of the story, Shahrazad, on the surface level, encourages this way of thinking through her storytelling to King Shahrayar. One would think that given Shahrazad’s relations with the king, she would try in someway to dissuade the misogynistic king from his line of thinking. However, while appealing to the king’s…show more content…
It is important to consider the following: Why exactly does King Shahrayar hold the views of women that he does? His sexist views actually stem from his brother, Shahzaman. While Shahzaman was preparing for his journey to visit his brother, he walked in on his wife engaging in sexual intercourse with a kitchen boy. This threw Shahzaman into a rage and he ended up killing his wife and the boy. He states the following, “I am still here, and this is what she has done when I was barely outside the city. How will it be and what will happen behind my back when I go to visit my brother in India? No. Women are not to be trusted” (Heller-Roazen, 6). Shahzaman can be seen here placing this mistrust that came from his wife onto all women. This is an extremely dangerous to do because it becomes the reason for why King Shahrayar ends up killing a myriad of women after the discovery of his own wife’s adultery. The king follows in his brother’s line of thinking when he says, “‘O God, O God! There is no power and no strength, save in God the Almighty, the Magnificent. ‘Great is a women’s cunning’” (Heller-Roazen, 11). King Shahrayar also places a negative view onto all women, and this is where his misogyny begins. He places this view that all women and cunning and tricksters, and to ensure that he is never tricked again, he kills every woman that he sleeps with after just one night. The whole kingdom is made alert to what the king is doing
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