Sex and Lies in Arabian Nights Essay

Words: 1078
Pages: 5

Sex, Lies, and Open Sesame In Richard Burton’s translation of Arabian Nights, several stories revolve around three ideas; sex, lies, and violence. It seems that one idea hinges on another and the stories use one to justify the other. This paper will explore the use of sex, lies, and violence and their interdependence on one another throughout three stories. These stories are “The Story of King Shahryar and His Brother,” “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,” and “The Hunchback’s Tale.” It will also discuss the strange use of these ideas in the stories as well as Arabian culture. Sex has been a mainstay in literature for countless years. Many love stories reach their highest point …show more content…
Betrayal and deception are seen as a crime punishable by torture and a gruesome death. The graphic nature of the violence described in the book reveals a startling look into Arabian values. Again in “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,” Morgiana, Ali Baba’s servant realizes that the thieves are hiding in the large oil jars. Upon this realization she decides to kill them in order to protect her master. “After it was done she bailed it (the oil) out in potfuls and carried the boiling liquid into the courtyard, where she poured the seething-hot contents into the leathern jars one by one. Since the thieves were unable to escape, they were scolded to death, and every jar contained a corpse.” (Page 124) This truly viscous act although used in self-defense is very unsettling. Morgiana commits this act without any hesitation or reservation, and most importantly with no remorse. This incident gives the reader an insight into how violence was perceived in this time. Violent acts seemed to be permissible as long as they were justified. Lies are a prominent figure in many of the stories presented in Arabian Nights. In "The Hunchback’s Tale" a lie that began with the tailor spun out of control until all that were involved became responsible for the so-called death of the hunchback. The tailor realized the hunchback was dead and brought him to the Jew who thought that he himself had killed him. The Jew brought the body