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Comparison of scheherazade's nightly storytelling

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Comparison of Scheherazade’s nightly storytelling A frame story is an overarching plot within which further narratives exist. While Tales from the Thousand and one Nights is not entirely unique in its narrative, through implementing a frame story as its narrative does present a number of unique elements. This essay considers the frame story in relation to a series of picture stories, examining the relation for a variety of literary and theoretical aspects. Within the overarching narrative structure of Tales from the Thousand and One Nights is the presentation of a frame story. The frame story is a story that begins the collection of tales, but only later does a series of stories emerge within this frame story. Within Tales from the Thousand and One Nights, the nightly telling frame story is ‘ The Tale of King Shahriyar and his Brother Shazaman’. This frame story is somewhat complicated as it considers a plot line of two brothers, then ultimately Scherezade who comes to encounter one of these individuals. The story that states, “ And the King, who was troubled with sleeplessness, eagerly listened to the tale of Scherezade:” (Anonymous 24). As seen, the rest of the texts narrative is framed inside of the story she tells to the King. One of the notable picture stories, that follow this overarching frame story, is The Story of Aladdin. In large part the narrative in this story functions similar to the narrative in the frame tale; that is not to say that the plot is similar, but rather that it is relayed in a straight-forward way, without great leaps in terms of time. In terms of overall development, the story of Aladdin is a longer story, with the reader being drawn in deeper to Aladdin’s journey. Uniquely, the story of Aladdin makes more frequent reference to the fantastical wonders of magic. While such metaphysical elements were briefly addressed in the frame story they become the central aspect of this story’s narrative. Ultimately it is this developed narrative that implements fantasy and a story arch that constitute the most notable literary elements of the story, as well as its differentiating features from the frame tale. Another one of the picture stories is the ‘ The Story of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves’. Similar to Aladdin, this story has gained considered renown as a standalone story and its narrative structure contributes in large part to that acclaim. Similar to the story of Aladdin, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves makes great use of mystical elements to advance the narrative. One theme that is emerging in these stories is the presentation of the downtrodden individual as the one that overcomes evil influences and triumphs in the end. Consider the description of Ali Baba, “ Ali Baba married a woman as poor as himself, and lived by cutting wood, and bringing it upon three asses into the town to sell” (Anonymous 132). While these are elements that are intrinsic to the narrative of the picture tales, they are also reflective of Scheherazade as the overarching narrator. One such argument in these regards is that as Scheherazade herself represents a downtrodden individual of lower-social status, the stories in a sense thematically represent a sort of idealization and plea to the King through implementing individuals in a similar situation. Another picture story that is notable to consider in relation to the overarching frame story is the ‘ Tale of the Three Apples’. This story is unique in that for its twisting plot like and crime thriller elements. While the previous picture tales contain these factors, this story’s narrative extends them and elaborates on them in a more complex fashion. In these regards, the story is more indicative of the complex narrative structure of the collection of stories rather than one of the singular picture tales. One notable element of this story is its implementation of a box as a narrative element. This is a theme throughout the picture tales, with the magical lamp and genie being cyclical elements. In this story, however, the author usurps this this convention, “ The Caliph examined it and lifted it finding it weighty…they cut open and saw within…under it was a woman’s mantilla folded in four, which they pulled out…at the bottom of the chest they came upon a young lady, fair as a silver ingot, slain and cut into nineteen pieces” (Anonymous 187). Here the reader sees that rather than a genie, the box contains a dead body. Ultimately, while narratively different, the twisting structure and dark theme of this picture tale places it perhaps closest in tone to the frame story. In conclusion, it’s clear that the frame story and the picture stories have a number of comparative and contrasting elements. This essay has argued that in large part the picture stories express a thematic trend of the downtrodden individual finding success, as an expression of Scherezade’s own situation. Still, as in ‘ the Three Apples,’ narrative conventions are also overturned, creating surprise and suspense. Ultimately, the frame tale and the picture tales constitute entirely different stories, with similar thematic elements. References Anonymous. (1973) Tales from the Thousand and One Nights. New York: Penguin Classics.

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