Women's Subjectivity in Arabian Nights by Judith Grossman

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Women's Subjectivity in Arabian Nights by Judith Grossman

Judith Grossman wrote an article concerning women's subjectivity in Arabian Nights. The article brought out many points to which I had never given thought. As I read the novel, I saw that women were considered evil and bad, but I didn't think much more of it. After reading Grossman's article I must say I agree with many of the thoughts expressed. She focuses on the fact that women are considered to be evil, but it is just because their true self has never had a chance to be free. Women are locked into this reciprocal cycle of deceit and unfaithfulness, only after being oppressed by their husbands or keepers, as in the case of the Jinnee and the maiden.

Grossman's article focused on several points I noticed when reading Arabian Nights. For example, the story of the Jinnee and his maiden in the chest surprised me. I never expected that the maiden would be so evil. I thought she would be different than the other women portrayed in this novel after being locked away for so long. However, the maiden is one of the most deceitful characters in this story. She is tired of being oppressed so she decides that she should have fun and obtain revenge. Her actions are actually small powertrips, her purpose being to have all the control in her affairs. As Grossman states,

"The Destiny cited in this passage cannot be hindered or averted is surely the familiar and inexorable cycle of coercion and revenge…By threatening other men with the Jinni's terrible power, she can practice sexual coercion on them in her turn, while getting revenge on her oppressor. The actions of oppressor and oppressed become fully reciprocal. Deceit meanwhile is the very mode of her continued existence as...

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...r points. Women are subjected to many things in the Arabian Nights, especially an unfair balance of power. They feel the need to right what was or is done to them. By doing this they are portrayed as evil, heinous, wenches that deserve nothing better than death. Although if you look at the situations they are placed in, then you would be able to see that it is truly the men's fault for not letting the women's true self emerge in their relationships. Grossman proves her points strongly, and shows that women are not evil like they are portrayed in Arabian Nights.


Works Cited

Burton, Richard F. Arabian Nights Vol.1. Trans.Jack Zipes. New York: Penguin Putnam, Inc, 1991.

Grossman, Judith. "Infidelity and Fiction: The Discovery of Women's Subjectivity in Arabian Nights." The Georgia Review 34, Number 1 (Spring 1980): 113-126

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