Scheherazade's Characters In The Thousand And One Nights

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The Thousand and One Nights depicts its characters in a thousand and one lights. From Aladdin to Ali Baba, there are many interesting characters among this classic of the Islamic Golden Age. But one character who stands out above the rest is the protagonist of the frame narrative, Scheherazade. While many of the females depicted in the stories that she tells are shown as sex-crazed backstabbers, Scheherazade is presented as virtuous, witty, moral, and intelligent. When the sultan of her land, Shahryar, is betrayed by his wife, he turns on the women of the country and begins to slaughter them. He calls one virgin woman into his room every night and has her slaughtered the next morning. Scheherazade decides to offer herself up to Shahryar, but…show more content…
It is not uncommon for the virtues of a society to be engrained directly into the heroes of their tales. But what makes Scheherazade notable as a fictional character is that she takes the role of a virtuous protagonist in a culture which has often been criticized for its mistreatment of women. Despite this, Scheherazade is held up as a figure of cunning and virtue. In the face of slaughter, she bravely takes a stand for all women in her country and uses her wits to save thousands of women from an untimely death through the art of storytelling. Such a position in this beloved story points keenly to her role as a role model for women in the Arabian Golden Age. But her influence has extended beyond that, for even modern feminists and Arab women finds inspiration in Scheherazade’s fantastic…show more content…
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines a role model as “a person whose behavior in a particular role is imitated by others.” In other words, role models are our heroes and inspirational figures. At best, they embody the positive cultural values of the society in which they exist. But a role model can really be anybody. One could choose the President of the United States as their role model as much as they could choose the local car mechanic. And role models aren’t limited to just real world people. Fictional characters may be chosen as role models as well. This could be Superman, Doctor Who, Odysseus, or even our humble Scheherazade. The Social Learning Theory states that role models facilitate the acquisition of morals and other types of behavior. (Brown and Tevino 1) This means that when somebody is chosen as a role model, their behaviors and morals are adopted as one’s own over time. In Sir Richard Burton’s translation of The Thousand and One Nights, Scheherazade is described as
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