The Arabian Nights: One Thousand and One Nights

Women as Instigators and Initiators in The Thousand and One Nights and Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy College

Throughout the course of history, women have had a variety of social roles, some of which can be seen through the lens of literature written during various different eras. Using several cantos from Inferno, part of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, and the frame tale The Thousand and One Nights, this paper will examine the medieval role of women as initiators and instigators of events, and will lead to an understanding of the quintessential medieval woman: one willing to maintain the appearance of passivity while still providing for herself or the people she has grown to care for in the background. This understanding is vital to interpretations of these texts, as well as to other medieval literature; however, an understanding of women’s role in the medieval period can also enrich one’s ability to examine the roles of women in all literature and promote an understanding of the ways in which these perceptions have changed and evolved with each passing era. Thus, using this knowledge, it would also be possible to analyze the contemporary roles of women, and to understand how and why certain stereotypes and thought patterns have been perpetuated throughout history, and how they have been largely overcome in some modern societies....

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