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Meanings Hidding In One Thousand English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 3784 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The story of the One Thousand And One Nights is full of hidden symbols that relate with other religions and even with the Western culture. That happens due to the religious, political, and social symbols hidden in the story. Starting with the central character: Sheherazade, who is a muse, the central character of the story. While thinking of Sheherazade I remember Esther, Judith, Joan Of Arc, Mata Hari, Aphrodite, and Nicaragua… But why? What one story has to do with so many? It has a lot to do, due to the fact that everything is connected, everything works together and it flows towards one unity.

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What we know of the tale of the One Thousand And One Nights is that Sheherazade used to tell stories to the king Charyar. This king used to kill women after the first and only love encounter. This encounter was probably a good encounter for the sultan but very bad for the women who were brutally killed afterwards. The fact that she told him stories has an immediate meaning of fight against death and another broad meaning is the social-political goal of ending with the terrible fate that was brought to the women of her people. This way Sheherazade binds herself with the image of a redeeming woman, the character of Sheherazade is easily found in our literature and even in our movies today because the type of character that Sheherazade has is a very repetitive type of character, in the meaning that in a time of oppression in which the people do not know how to handle the situation, there’s always a hero to come.

It is in this sense that Sheherazade relates with Esther of the Bible. Because that is the same situation that Esther had to face according to the Bible in which king Ahasuerus, one day, calls his wife Vashti and she decides not to respond to his calling, committing, then, a major crime: the crime of disobedience, which in the eastern culture disobedience is seen as a “half way to adultery” and an adulterous woman had to be punished. In the One Thousand And One Nights we can see the same paradigm happening. The heart of king Sheherazade was hurt due to the infidelity of the women and he ended up feeling as if he was the victim. In the story of Esther, the king Ahasuerus decided to call his council and decide to look for a woman to replace the disobedient woman and that’s when Esther comes into play, she gets involved with the king and with that “power” over him gets to save the women of her people. (Leeuwen Pg 36)

As we can see, the stories meet in the same meanings: the redemption, the salvation…, which brings to these characters a characteristic of greatness. In the same type of comparison as we had between Sheherazade and Esther, we find another character of the Bible which relates with Sheherazade and that is Judith, who gets involved with the king in order to kill him. Anyway, these women are a mixture of Joan of Arc who was very seductive and Mata Hari who had such a complex way of spying, with the presence of Aphrodite, who together form a story that goes from love to sex, in all the possible varieties of love.

With the king Chahryar, to whom she told stories Sheherazade had a very serious intention: to keep her friends from being victims of the Kings neurotic process. In the stories that she told him she would bring situations that the king could relate with and bring the possibility of teaching lessons in the story that could change the king’s conduct.

With those stories she was producing a therapeutic effect to the king’s life. A therapy that was brought through poetry, therapy through singing, basically a therapy that could be brought through words, the same way that today we have therapy through music. Through the tales of the One Thousand And One Nights she was starting to bring the cure to the king. Today, psychology studies use the One Thousand And One Nights stories as examples that poetry can be used as therapy.

Also, as is notoriously sensitive to any person who listens to Arabic music that it exerts mesmerizing sensation attraction as poetry can have. In Qasidas, ie in classical Arabic poems, the pace began being learned from the march of camels. The camel, when walking, moving, while the anterior and posterior limb, alternating the right side with the left side. This gives a kind of rhythm, it’s a march packer like lullaby, as berceuse, passing the camel ride to the poetic rhythms. It is something that the West does not understand.

It is the typical case of music: listening to a disc, you realize that Arabic has a infinitely repetitive melody. It is even more surprising, finding that also the second face of the disc presents the same tune. Present in all this, that hypnotizing characteristic that puts you to fall asleep. And the truth is that the music conveys the letter and with this half-anesthesia, this half-sleep, large messages are eventually transmitted.

Returning to Sheherazade the attack she makes the king gives up through the verb is reality, of a good hypnotizing verb and this is very Arab, very Semitic, very religions… The verb, singing, poetry, oratory, the word itself.

For Africa, at a certain time, in a political moment, the speakers spoke. They spoke in Arabic literature, not in Arabic popular-colloquial speech. And that literary Arabic, the people did not understand, but they listened, quietly. Suddenly came a word: Istiqlal, then the people howled with excitement, with a single word (Istiqlal means independence)! The people did not need a dissertation, did not need a theory. He had only to use one word, which moved the hearts and hands.

The Eastern does not get bored with the monotony. The West is imposing the continuous fragmentation, which leads to no monotony, leading to diversification. The eastern prefers to see equality that basically is given by the desert. The truth is that the East is man’s infinite and therefore the mystery that closes as something inscrutable, impenetrable. Instead of mystery, I would rather say enigma. What distinguishes the riddle of the mystery is that the puzzle really has a solution, while the mystery, by definition, is insoluble. Since we explain the mystery, it simply ceases to be a mystery. (Leeuwen 58)

Always, in the East, repetition. Repetition is the music, repetition is the arabesque, the phrases that repeat infinitely. In the religious and mystical plan, the dhikr: the uninterrupted repetition, the endless time, the name of Allah, in which the believer takes himself away from the world around him, only with repetition of God’s name, which leads to a ecstasy sensation, which, in quick definition , is the direct contact with God immediately, eliminating intermediaries.

It is no coincidence that Islam has no clergy engaged role of intermediaries. Admittedly, in the mosques, the imam leads the prayer, but, in theory, anyone could do it, without being invested with a religious character.

But the mystery, infinity leads to a dip in the night. It is, therefore, that the stories are told in the night, that is why Muhammad recommends that the Quran is read by night, and this is why disclosure is obtained on the night: a night of revelation. That’s why, in the Muslim calendar, it is the night of Qaddar (predestination), ie the night of Destiny. Destiny is found during the night.

Ramadan, with its moon of Ramadan, of course, is the night. A journey that Muhammad makes from Makkah to Jerusalem is the Night Journey. And over there, the Freemasons, the Carbonarism, blindfolded, the persistence of the night. The night of the caves, the caves of initiation night … .

Appears here, a racial component, which must end in appreciation of dark and black: think up in the outbreak of black Islam, not only in Africa, but even in the United States. It is important to have a black character. In the West, we say “black market” and an endless series of expressions, which gives the black, always a pejorative meaning, derogatory, while “white” is always a load of favorable connotations. I believe this literary appreciation of white and black that depreciation is a manifestation of a more western racism. The mother is black. It’s there in Muhammad, that Paradise is his mother’s knees. And the ‘Ummah, the Arab community has the same root as mother,’ Umm, is in reality a mother.

This complex infinite pointed, ending in black, which ends in mystery leads us to the notion of time for the Arabs of the Arabian Nights is very revealing. The Arab sees the past as a homogeneous block. And sees the future as a homogeneous block as well.

The truth is that what is temporal in Thousand and One Nights is the opposite of this atomization, this dissection, this temporal separation of the West, who invented a machine to split all the time (clepsydra, watches and so on, down to current mechanisms that measure hundredths of a second).

The East is much the same thing. Apparently there is a Eastern homogeneity, ranging from a Lebanese Mediterranean to Japan, so it is difficult to impose nationalist criteria to explain what is the East (the very origin of the Thousand and One Nights is Asian, Indian …) Although the tales of the Thousand and One Nights make a world trajectory, one must not misinterpret the fact that sometimes the stories are repeated. This fact does not mean, always, imitation of an original model, where the same stories can be told in many places, but rather meet the condition of Eastern archetypal. You can have, for example, the east of the Thousand and One Nights emerging transiting through Persia. (The truth is that the zende, a language that was leaked to Zoroaster and the Sanskrit language are very similar, as are India, Persia, or later, if you will, Babylon …).

Babylon, in our geography, our days, corresponding to ranges of Iraq and Persia tracks. The Babylonian exile, the Jews from slavery. Babylon must be given to religion in the Jewish, angels, demons, fantasies, imaginary beings that were coming from India.

What distinguishes these fantastic beings in India is that there, these ghosts have inordinate size, the dimensions of excessively large. In subsequent transmigration, the exodus of history, the things is diminished, less frightened ghosts, because they were smaller.

There is therefore a great complexity of the East that has an infinite series of cradles. On one hand, the complexity and on the other, a feature which follows the homogeneity of horizontal condition. And so, the Thousand and One Nights admit infinitely varied interpretations. And depending on the specialist that deals with the subject, there are varieties of perspectives: to Sanskritist, the sinologist, who tend to favor their particular focus. There are a multitude of angles, which goes to infinity.

What does the story have to do with the Arabs? We see, in the history of their civilization, the incorporation of foreign materials. The truth is that the Arabs received these stories, or, in some cases, they already had these stories and simply made it more “Arabnized”. This is the fundamental point. It is in this sense that the Thousand and One Nights is Arab; Through the transformation of the story in such an Arab-told story

And with that, we come to the problem, say, Arabic: what was, in all this, the Arabic root of authentic Arabic? The research makes it difficult to find exactly the infinite characteristic of the Thousand and One Nights, because it is not a book of an author, known or not, and neither of many authors. The origin of the Thousand and One Nights is clearly popular. It is in this sense that the Thousand and One Nights acquire greater grandeur. This lack of literary slant to my precipitous analysis, could be unfavorable, but the popular characteristic is gives it more greatness. Its characteristic makes it a popular dive into the soul of the people, their psychology, and to dive mainly in an infinite past, to dive in prehistory, which is valid for the psychoanalyst, because you can dive in many of its tracks in a unsuspected collective unconscious. Not coincidentally, the collective unconscious adopts certain myths.

The Arabs make the text Arabian-styled and when the texts go to Western language, the translations have a dramatic problem of validity. Books like The Thousand and One Nights give much room for literary mystification. The texts are, at times, to some extent, deleted: enter here the problem of censorship. Censored editions of the Thousand and One Nights are published to the Arab World.

The stories of sexual background that sometimes are in the Thousand and One Nights, are very natural, are not charged with Western malice, ie, slip over to that for humor the Christian notion of sin. On the other hand, there is a difference in cultures. Other categories are at stake. Perhaps, within, lies more than sexual pleasure. So this erotic aspect of the Thousand and One Nights has to be studied with more breadth of view and more impartiality.

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One of the stories of the Thousand and One Nights is a certain character who traveled the whole country in search of a virgin and did not. It should be said here that the issue of virginity in the East is not the same as in the West. At least, reading the biblical text, this understanding of the virgin, as derived from the Virgin Mary, that cost seems to appear. What is found in the Eastern values, first, is the female fertility, so the condition is that a barren woman who was to be branded. In biblical texts, there is even the social institution of levirate. Levirate is the institution that required the widowed man the wife of his brother-in-law with marriage. That is, the woman was too defended the condition of unmarried virgin.

There is no Hebrew word that means “single” because marriage is a religious position and, in its own religious views, when it says that marriage is a sacrament, that marriage brings, as it were, grace the couple, we see that the Church, not by chance, positions itself irreducibly against any dissolution of the marriage bond.

Finally, what does the Thousand and One Nights taught the world? This thing is serious, because it is what determines that the world does not stop, determines that the world does not stagnate. The Thousand and One Nights brings the great lesson of the Dream.


One Thousand And One Nights is a collection of tales that bring legends and myths of the Eastern world. These stories do not have an author since the stories came through oral tradition.

In conclusion I will refer to a, less complex, list of meanings found in the stories. The King means the dominant principle of consciousness of a people. Therefore, the Tale of the Thousand and One Nights presents a classical conditioning, where the principle of collective consciousness, coming to a halt, is no longer able to drive or operate properly, symbolizing the inadequacy of collective attitude for which the tale tries to propose a solution.

The Queen symbolizes the keynote of affective feeling of community. With death, the absence of the Queen, means that this last aspect was lost. Therefore, one can assume that the story deals with the problem of collective dominant position, in which the relationship with the unconscious, the irrational, the feminine was lost. This refers to the situation where the collective consciousness, became petrified and hardened into doctrines and formulas.

It’s amazing how the issue proposed by a tale as old, continue as this current civilization. The woman has no voice. As if men were immaculate. The orgy with ten chaperones, and eleven black slaves, where the Queen was found in this tale, symbolizes a violent desire for change that ultimately launch their participants in a demonstration down with debauchery. Elevates them above themselves to the limit of illusion, but ends exhausting their energies on degradation. It’s a wreck. The number ten symbolizes a complete cycle and would have a positive connotation to ten chaperones. However with the Queen appears that the number eleven, surpassing the fullness of the number ten, symbolizes the excess. This issue announces a conflict that can generate the beginning of a renewal, or a disruption and a deterioration in December

The black color is also very symbolic, but it is important to exclude any value of judgment here. In this tale she symbolizes the coexistence of opposites not balanced, a constant voltage. When Emperor becomes aware of the facts, will observe three cases of treason. Three situations where love triangles are formed. His brother was betrayed. He himself was betrayed. And the genie of evil, surprisingly, was also betrayed. The number three is a characteristic rhythm of Tales. Generally there are three similar rhythms and a final action. It’s the same thing as counting: one, two, three and now! The one, two, and three true outcome lead to the fourth step, leading to a new dimension that is not comparable with the previous three steps. The number four means a static stage, something that is stable, and will be represented by the entry of the character Scheherazade, the heroine of the story.

And at the end of the Thousand and One Nights survived telling stories, that the King does not want to stop listening, we found that Sheherazade and the King already have two children. Therefore, the fourth stage at the end, we found four characters.

The forest where the Kings are adopting, as well as the sea where the Genie leaves symbolize the unconscious, because in a forest, because the amount of trees, visibility is limited. Also has wildlife, ie unexpected dangers may occur. The unconscious is indeed a place where we enter the dreams, depressed or in situations when our energy back into our interior, in order to deal with the emotions brought from our experiences. It is a place that we own, and we need to learn to leave. For this there are psychoanalyses. And also for self-knowledge, of course.

Genie coming out of the depths of the sea making the two kings terrified, means that an archetypal content approaches the human consciousness. When this happens, it is possible that only their emotional charge is experienced. The person suffers the influence of an overwhelming emotional state and did not realize its significance. This can be really dangerous. Who never did anything which came to regret when taken for some intense emotion like anger, for example?

However these genies can be very useful if combined with human intelligence. We can not forget that they are older who best know the ways. This genie, from the depths of the waters of the unconscious, probably was a god worshiped locally once. Now facing a new religious condition, was demoted to the devil, symbolizing the overwhelming emotional state which are taken the men in this culture when they discover betrayed. Become even murderers.

The arrest of the woman’s genie is how these people want to keep their women: in glass cases, where the all-seeing, but without having contact with anyone, protected from other men and themselves. Thus men do not need to have to educate their most primitive sexual instincts. The locks of gold symbolize the box model and good moral conduct. But they hold a woman, therefore the model imposed by brute force. Gold as a precious metal that does not deteriorate, means that the Genie wants them to last forever, and who keep what he brings better, more precious: his anima, his female principle. (Sallis, Eva)

Every man has inside himself a feminine side, represented by the anima that is naturally designed the woman he lives intimately. Likewise, the woman has her male principle, the animus.

The animates these people is possessed by the Devil. In this tale, there is a hierarchical process for a conformation with their own misfortunes. Shazenã, a minor king who sit closest to the people, seeking to comply with the betrayal of his Queen, as Shariah, the great emperor, was also betrayed. Shariah, just back to his palace where judges have found someone more unfortunate than him: The evil genius who, with his supernatural powers, was unable to keep it from being betrayed too. However still unhappy. Kill the Queen with all her ladies, and the killing continues to be healed by the stories of Scheherazade. In this case, we can feel relieved because the Genius never have discovered the betrayal of his wife. The beheading of women confirms the brutal separation of reason, his head and body, senses, feelings, emotion, size is the fear that these men feel to love and be des-deluded. Prefer to continue with the illusion that brute force have dominion over everything, including their feelings. (Sallis, Eva)

We are talking about the Arab people, but also our Western people is not far behind, as in the animates our stories, is often portrayed as a witch. The witch is the guardian of the unconscious, she embodies the fear of life and its mysteries, the fear of entering an inner adventure. We tend to tilt strongly rationalist in our educational system, and we usually consider the myths and fairy tales as superstitious nonsense or bedtime stories for children. In reality, however, represent a highly sophisticated psychology, expressed in poetic language of images and dramatic narratives.

Myths and fairy tales are never overwhelmed because they speak directly to the unconscious, and humanity will always feel the fascination and the need for these stories. Scheherazade is the heroine, one that welcomes the King and healing their wounds anima patiently. So save the kingdom, saving his own life. She assumes the role of Queen, feminine principle, the tone of affectionate feelings, and smarts, sweetness, intelligence and cunning, telling stories, fascinated the King

The Arabs have a real fascination with their storytellers who, for them, narrate the soul with its fiery and passion. Maybe to amuse these people they need to keep telling them stories night after night to survive… Then maybe one day the King can be cured.(Sallis, Eva)


Leeuwen, Richard Van. “Challenging Symbols of power” New York, Peter Lang 2008. Print.

Sallis, Eva. “Sheherazade Through The Looking Glass.” Richmond. Curzon. 1999, Press


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