Jan 11, 2020 in Literature

Responding to The Thousand and One Nights and The Canterbury Tales
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It is important to start with the literature that is congenial and easy to understand. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer combines aspects of commonality, rough with ascetic and religious viewpoints. Reading each of these tales, the first thing the reader notices is a lot of feasts, carnal pleasures and on sight – the life of a hermit, refusal of delight, mortification. This is a typical Middle Ages period. Perhaps, there is nothing more attractive in this historical period than contradictions, contrasts, oppositions. They are mostly noticeable in The Canterbury Tales. The brightest example of contrasts is The Wife of Bath’s Tale and her adventures – one of the Chaucer’s stories. This heroine was five times married, learning to her cost and life experience all possible methods to draw attention the opposite sex. Nevertheless, she goes on preying masses, cites Bible, excusing her own doing: “For then, the apostle says, I am free, in God’s name, to wed where I wish”. Her husband has punished her physically. The women became deaf in one ear. Nevertheless, she has not turned into a humble wife, remaining actively seized with a matter of love adventures: “We love no man who takes note or care where we go; we wish to have our freedom” . This character is not pitiful to read. Reading the tale, one feels like passive onlooker of the typical social basis of that time. This story criticizes immorality, falsehood, dishonesty, that is unjustified from the point of view the modern society. Thus, supporting characters in some contexts, the reader makes conclusions about bad and good, criticize people’ doing, comparing them, even, to one’s surprise. 

 

The characters of The Thousand and One Nights tales do not live in dark and gloomy castles, - they live in luxury, enjoying the beams of kindness. However, the brightness and brilliance of Arabic tales makes them in great request to read and learn. To understand the moral sense of Arabian night, it is necessary to discuss each of the stories separately, as each of them speaks about different problematic aspects. The Story of King Shahrayar and Shahrazad, His Vizier’s Daughter is a kind of tale, giving a clear explanation for everything that happens below, through the course of all stories. The life story of Shahrazad, the vizier’s older daughter, reflects the philosophy of typical Arabian woman’s destiny. No matter how cruel and selfish her husband is, a woman obliged following him at all times and in all places. Nevertheless, the story is not sad. The rich syllable diverts readers from problematic details, making admire a heroine of Shahrazad, her feminine wiles, proving that wisdom can always win the life battle: “Perceiving her in tears he for a moment forgot his barbarous resolution”.  

The Story of Ox and Donkey extends the line of wisdom and tricks. The plot of the story moves swiftly, excellently reminding the real old tales’ manner. The story satirizes fakeness, foolishness, blind confidence, carrying the analogy over the animals: The farmer was so pleased with the cunning if the ass, and the terrors of the ox, that he burst into a immoderate fit of laughter”. Perhaps, this kind of Shahrazad’s stories is the easiest to read, within the power of everybody, giving the impression of nursery tale. The Story of Merchant and His Wife is a logical duration of the previous story, telling about people with the same manner. By the way, the plot of husband-wife relationships is very popular for Arabian literature genre. Woman’s figure is rather negative than positive, with the feminine curiosity natural to her. The man, a husband, is rather complicated character. His family is his greatest love. The tragedy lies in the fact that family relations should be relayed on the base of trust, sympathy, understanding and thus, tactful attitude towards people. Otherwise, there is a vacant place for cruelty. The reader can observe a typical life statute of Arab people: polygamous marriage, dominate man and wife, conformable to the husband’s wishes.

Perhaps, The Story of Merchant and Demon is the most interesting and morality tale, being different from the others of its structure – three separate stories make the bigger one. The situation that appears between the obedient honest merchant and vindictive demon carries the analogy over to ordinary life situations, unexpected, uninvited. The crucial thing is face off with all troubles dignified, without compunctions. The merchant is a good character. That is why at the end of his life journey he was saved by three old men appeared from nowhere. 1st Old Man’s Story speaks about jealousy, leading to wrong doing and desperate consequences. By the way, each of old men’ stories laughs at human immorality, propagating the ideology of “evil comes from evil”, or “evil must be punished”. This tale speaks of the life story of the old merchant, whose wife, being blinded by her jealousy, has been turned out to be a gazelle. As a matter of fact, she was deservedly punished. 2nd Old Man’s Story speaks about a kind and merciful man, whose older brothers have been turned out to be dogs. They were punished for their envy: “They must look for support and protection to the brother they so basely betrayed”. The story learns to stay a Good Samaritan, person, helping other people without fear or favor. Such negative qualities as greediness, jealousy will never lead to the happy end. By the way, the stories were written in a kind and calm manner, rising rather positive emotions than negative.3rd Old Man’s Story describes typical social problems of people-to-people relations. There was no free choice. Moreover, love match marriage was randomly permitted. Thus, people were trying to survive, making a semblance of happy family, happy society over the course of history. The problem of marital infidelity was always a major challenge of old society. Reading this story, one does not consider a faithless wife as a bad person, relating her behavior to not an easy line of the Arabian woman, being captive by man.

Unquestionably, each of tales and stories can be named as an ode to people’ desires, moral systems, damageable flaws. They share such people’ qualities, that is similar for both books, as honesty, justice, kindness, charity, denouncing outrages. These literature creations teach to notice the nucleus of a story, human nature, morality, wisdom, discerning good and bad. It is like two separate worlds, exciting side by side – real and perfect. Reading the books, we should know that the justice might finally be served, hypocrisy and wickedness – unmasked. The Thousand and One Nights tales boggle the reader’s imagination with immensity, whimsicality, a swiftness of events. Everything is bright, colorful, and mysterious. The Canterbury Tales book through the example of The Wife of Bath’s story cannot be named a master of bright worlds. Nevertheless, it is easier to read and understand. Reading this, one can pick up the author’s message through the number of apposite examples. Full of bright moments, the story of old lady makes one think, feel sorrow. Sometimes, it is curious and funny. On the other hand, it is signifying, full of morality. Thus, this tale includes the whole world, living with its rules, laws, reflecting the life of different generations for many centuries.

Proposing books are just as well as better, they are different. Pointing a king Shahrayar together with a reader the course of true goodness, Shahrazad tells the tales, parables about people and society, clean and truthful as it must be. It is much pleasant reading tales than stories. Each of them carries out the reader to Baghdad, Вasra, Damascus, Cairo. The syllable is as colorful as gold decoration of Arabic manuscript, sparkling the sunlight. Moreover, Arabic tales remind the halva and sherbet, needed to give pleasure. They create beautiful and scaring characters – personages, nature, buildings. At a time when The Wife of Bath’s Tale, as one of the brightest representatives of The Canterbury Tales, sends the reader to the bottom of reality, cruel Middle Ages period. The stories are different by the way of representing the information. Curiously enough, both of them speak about the similar things, moral treasures, with the different words.

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