Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Take of the Merchant and His Wife

At first, I was really shocked when I heard the Tale of the Merchant and His Wife. The excerpt that we read from The Thousand and One Nights mostly taught the reader some moral. Like the Tale of the Ox and the Donkey taught not to be deceitful, the Story of the Merchant and the Demon taught not to be too harsh in punishments. But the lesson in the Tale of the Merchant and His Wife teaches that men should beat their wives to control them. Now, perhaps beating women was acceptable at the time when The Thousand and One Nights was written, but it was still shocking to me when I read it. But then, the lesson of the tale was completely ignored by Shahrazad. Her father tells her the story to get her to obey him, but Shahrazad says she will not listen and her father doesn't beat her, but lets her do as she wants. So perhaps the lesson in the story is the opposite of what the story presents. In the context of the story by itself, men can beat women to force obedience, but in the larger context of The Thousand and One Nights, the lesson is that women will not listen even if beaten. I don't know. What do you think?


Madeline Davis said...

I agree with you in that the morals taught in the stories within The Thousand and One Nights correspond to morals more central in the main story of Shahrazad and Shahrayar. In the case of When the vizier tells the Tale of the Merchant and His Wife, the lessons of beating and threatening women are proven to be ineffective with Shahrazad. So I would say that because the fables within the story are mystical and often unrealistic (like understanding animals....Dr. Doolittle, what up), the morals that the authors of The Thousand and One Nights intends for the reader to take away are the morals that are effective with Shahrazad, the most "realistic" character. Perhaps the author intended for Shahrazad to be portrayed as stubborn, but her methods actually worked out for the better and she didn't get killed by the king. I'm not exactly sure whether the overall message about women is supposed to be negative or positive, but I do believe the Tale of the Merchant and His Wife was intended to mean, "Don't beat women because it really won't work."

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