A THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS 1
VoyagesThrough a Thousand and One Nights: Frame Story Analysis
VoyagesThrough a Thousand and One Nights: Frame Story Analysis
Theuse of frame stories is a predominant feature in AThousand and One Nights,which comprises numerous accounts that use the named tool.Thelatter is an instrument by which an author introduces an actor whonarrates a story that pioneers other characters. The other charactersmay then introduce independent stories, creating a sense of intriguein the literary work. A distinct characteristic of frame stories isthat even though they often appear independent of each other, uniquefeatures in one story create links to another or even several others.Identification of such features requires attention to details in abid to understand the greater picture and establish the connectionbetween all the stories.
Thisessay analyzes and strives to explain the connection between twostories in the book. The story of KingShahriyahin the introductory chapter of the book and the tale of “TheMerchant and the Jinni” both have a unique connection hidden in thedetails of duo. The connection lies in component parts such asanalogies used, interaction of characters, and the use of similarthemes in both stories.
Connectionbetween the Stories
Analogyof the Date
Inthe story of TheMerchant and the Jinni, theMerchant takes a break during his travel to escape the scorching sun.While resting, he decides to eat some bread and a date. He laterthrows the stone from the date, occasioning the appearance of theJinniand allegations that the stone killed the Jinni’ssonafter hitting him in the chest. The Jinniseeksretribution in the form of the merchant’s life (Poole & Lane,2001). During the narration of the story, Shahrazad describes theJinnias an “Efrit of enormous height” (Poole & Lane, 2001). Therefore, it is logical that his son would be a sizeable creature aswell. However, the story indicates that the core of a date tossedaside by an average human being was enough to kill the Jinni’sson, suggesting the use of the date’s stone as an analogy. Thestone in the analogy represents the remainder of something useful andnourishing that a person discards because it no longer serves itspurpose. The date was useful to the merchant but the stone was notedible, and therefore, rendered useless.
Inthe story of ‘TheMerchant and the Jinni’,the stone logically represents heartbreak, which is evident fromtheemotional demeanour of the Jinniwhile seeking his retribution. Heartbreaks may occur from gestures,no matter how small, that break the sentimental bond between people.Sometimes the gestures occur in the form of hurtful words andsometimes in form of actions or behavior amounting to betrayal.
Inthe story of the Shahriyah, his wife’s actions in her betrayal fitthe analogy of the date. His wife betrays him by having an affairwith a black slave. The date, in that scenario, is the comfortablelife Shahriyah had created for her as his queen. According to thestory, the queen was renowned in the kingdom for her beauty andShahriyah famous for his wealth (Poole & Lane, 2001). Having anaffair with a lowly slave would therefore, suggest that her life wasno longer satisfactory hence, the need to seek a love affair with aslave. The affair was tantamount to throwing away the stone while herkingdom represents the date.
Analogyof the Garden
Inboth stories, the scenes highlighting the pictures forming the coreof the story occur in a garden. Gardens are often representative ofbeauty, prosperity, and life. In the story of ‘TheMerchant and the Jinni,the garden is a place of peace that provides solace to the wearymerchant during his travel. In Shahriyah’s story, the garden is abeautiful place where the queen and the slaves escape to indulge intheir love affairs. In both cases, the garden describes a form ofutopia where characters in both stories go to escape the harshrealities of their lives (Poole & Lane, 2001).
Inthe merchant’s story, the reality he escapes is the harshness ofthe weather and the length of his journey, which he undertakes forthe conduct of trade. For the queen, the garden serves as a place offreedom fromadmonishmentor punishment (Poole & Lane, 2001). The garden serves as theplace where the queen and slave defy the law of the land to expresstheir acts of love, regardless of their ranks in the society. Theutopian description of the garden is interrupted in both cases andresults to the chaos forming the core of both stories.
Theuse of the JinniinBoth Stories
Thereexists a connection in both stories through the incorporation of theJinnias a character. Although the nature of the creature varies in bothstories, it is possible to connect the Jinni’sparticipationas a character in the duo. In King Shahriyah’s story, he encountersthe Jinniin a garden while trying to escape the reality of his wife’s affairback at his palace. When Shahriyah and Shahzeman go off to cleartheir minds and contemplate about their situation, they witness theJinni(also referred to as ‘Efrit) descending to the bottom of the treewhere they sat resting, with a chest on its head (Poole & Lane,2001). They quickly climb the tree to avoid detection and ultimatedeath. The creature releases a beautiful woman from the chest beforefalling asleep on her lap, after which the female notices them in thetree and asks them to descend. The woman demands to have sexualrelations with both men under threat of death and later asks fortheir rings as souvenirs to add to her collection. She allows the twoto leave, but not before expressing her sentiments on the inherentunfaithfulness of women (Poole & Lane, 2001).
Shahriyah’sstory precedes the merchant’s story in the book, which creates aprogressive transition for the Jinnifroma gentle creature capable of love to a murderous creature in themerchant’s story. It is possible that the actions of the woman thatthe creature held captive were the source of the Jinni’sanger in the merchant’s story, which comes after Shahriyah’sstory in the book. It is also possible that the son referred to inthe merchant’s story is the product of the woman’s betrayal ofthe Jinniwith numerous men (Poole & Lane, 2001). In fact, it seemspossible that the son could be a child born from Shahriyah’s sexualinteraction with the Jinni’swoman. In Shahriyah’s story, the Jinni’sobjectivefor keeping her locked inside a box with seven locks was to ensurethat the woman retained her chastity.
Secondly,the description of the JinniandKing Shahriyah in both stories bears significant similarities. In themerchant’s story, Shahrazad narrates that the first Sheikh beggedthe ‘Efrit not to kill the merchant and offered a story for a thirdof the merchant’s life, contingent on the story being entertaining(Poole & Lane, 2001). Similarly, Shahrazad offered Shahriyah astory every night for a thousand and one nights in exchange for thedelay of the possibility of her execution the morning after a nightwith King Shahriyah, albeit without the prior knowledge of the king(Pool & Lane, 2001). Shahriyah’s story also describes him as agreat king with a lot of power and dominance over vast lands. Thedescription is similar to the First Sheikh’s account of the Jinnni(alsoJinn),as “the powerful king of all Jann,a portrayal of the creature’s rule, power, and dominance overothers of its kind.
Thetwo stories share some predominant themes, which further enhances theconnection between them. Some of the most prominent themes includeutopia, fear, death, power, and the inclusion of supernatural beingto add intrigue to the stories. The tales also apply suspense as astylistic device to enhance their appeal to the reader. The use ofsuspense also sparks curiosity regarding the connection of thestories, creating a need for further analysis (Poole & Lane,2001). Shahriyah’s story also introduces Shahrazad as the narratorfor the merchant’s story hence, creating the flow from the formerto the latter in smooth transition
Overall,the connection between the two stories is evident as discussed above.The use of the frame creates an easy transition from one story toanother, even when there is a difference in majority of thecharacters. Establishment of majority of the connections requireskeenness in addition to proper understanding of frame stories.
Poole,S., L. & Lane, E., W. (2001). Storiesfrom the Thousand and One NightsVol xvi (The Harvard Classics). New York: P.F Collier & Son,1909-14.Retrieved from www.bartler.com/16/