The Arabian Nights: One Thousand and One Nights

Selfless Acts in Classic Tales and Modern Literature College

While being selfless is often thought of as a good personality trait, sometimes selflessness can bring unexpected consequences in our own lives as well as in the lives of those around us. In both the collection of stories known as The Thousand and One Nights and in K. Saraswathi Amma’s “The Subordinate,” a trivial role is played by a character who is portrayed as being selfless. Paru Amma in “The Subordinate” and Shahrazad in The Thousand and One Nights are selfless in many aspects of their lives. Paru Amma murders her daughter so that her daughter, Lakshmikutty, will not have to endure the hardships and heartbreak that she had to face as a child and as a teenager. On the other hand, Shahrazad volunteers herself to be married to King Shahrayar so that he will not marry another princes’ daughter. All of the previous wives that the king has married have been murdered after one night of marriage, but Shahrazad is determined to save these girls by putting her own life in danger. Both of these characters believe they are committing a selfless act, but in all actuality, they are causing harm and heartache to themselves and to those who are close to them. The selfless and limited point of view that each of these women embody results...

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