Augustine's Confessions The Thousand And One Nights Analysis

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Female Agency in Augustine’s Confessions, The Thousand and One Nights, and The Tale of Genji For a large part of the past four millenia, women have occupied a curious space in world literature. Their allure has perplexed the male gaze across Eurasia, and this fascination has manifested in an array of texts: from the Roman Augustine’s late fourth-early fifth century classic the Confessions, written at the crux of Christianity’s institutionalization and the brink of the Roman Empire’s demise; to the Middle East’s fourteenth century’s frame tale of fantastic kings and enchanted vases, The Thousand and One Nights; and to eleventh century Heian Japan, in what is largely regarded as the first great novel, Murasaki Shikibu’s The Tale of Genji. Yet…show more content…
In the text, women are prone to treachery, betrayal, violence, jealousy, and wickedness, presenting at times mortal danger to the male protagonists. One of the most extreme manifestations of this belief occurs in the Tale of the Enchanted King, during which a brutal dispute between the King and his wife over the wife’s adultery results in the virtual destruction of the kingdom. His wife, “with [her] magic and cunning,” hexes the King into half stone and half man to avenge her lover, a slave who the King attempted and narrowly failed to behead (601). Each morning, his wife strips him naked and mercilessly whips him, uncaring of her husband’s “deafening and enervating cries that deprive [the fisherman’s king] of sleep,” then tends to her vegetative lover (603). The wife is therefore portrayed as a purely wretched woman, “the dirtiest of whores and filthiest of all venal women,” whose cruelty knows no bounds (601). The fisherman’s king is therefore tasked with rescuing the Enchanted King and freeing his kingdom by defeating the demonic wife. The king tricks the wife by killing the incapacitated slave, posing as him, and coaxing her to de-enchant her husband and the kingdom, who she has hexed into fish. After doing so, the king “with one stroke of the sword sliced [the wife] in half, and she fell in two to the ground,” thus freeing the kingdom (604). Tales like these in The Thousand and One Nights therefore articulates women’s place in Middle Eastern society: their subordination is imperative, for if they are not kept in check, their true vile nature will overtake them and they will wreck chaos and
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