Sex and lies in "Arabian Nights".

Essay by ucef December 2005

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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 when the two perfect lovers consummate their relationship. However in Arabian Nights the idea of sex many times is used to create conflict or controversy and therefore leading to lies and/or violence. In "The Story of King Shahryar and His Brother," King Zamon, after realizing that he forgot a present to bring to his brother, returns home to find his wife naked in the arms of a black cook.

He is so enraged that he kills them both there by cutting them into two. Here is an example of sex promoting violence in the story. When King Zamon arrives in his brother's kingdom he is overcome with grief however he does not tell his brother of what occurred in his home. The act of violence has sparked the need to lie about his actions and therefore continues the chain of sex, lies, and violence.

Again in the same story a discovery of sex is made. While King Shahryar is on a hunting expedition, Shah Zamon discovers his brother wife involved in an orgy wife a black slave, several white slaves, and the King's concubines. "Then they stripped...