The Arabian Nights: One Thousand and One Nights

The Arabian Nights: One Thousand and One Nights Summary

The Arabian Nights is a collection of tales from the Islamic Golden Age, compiled by various authors over many hundreds of years.

Though each collection features different stories, they are all centered around the frame story of the sultan Shahrayar and his wife, Scheherazade. After finding out that his first wife is unfaithful, Shahrayar kills her and swears to marry a different woman each night before killing her the following morning to prevent further betrayal. Scheherazade, his vizier's daughter, concocts a plan to end this pattern. She marries Shahrayar, and then begins to tell him a story that night. However, she stops the story in the middle, so that he will be excited to hear the rest the following night. The next evening, she finishes that story and then begins another, following the same pattern for 1,001 nights, until Shahrayar has a change of heart. The stories she tells comprise the collection.

"Aladdin's Lamp" tells of a peasant boy who is tricked by an evil magician into retrieving a magic genie lamp from a cave. However, Aladdin outsmarts him, keeping the lamp for himself. Through the genie's power, Aladdin grows rich and marries the sultan's daughter. When the magician steals the lamp back, Aladdin and his wife thwart and kill the villain. The magician's brother then attempts to avenge the dead man, but is equally defeated, so that Aladdin lives happily ever after.

In "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves," hardworking Ali Baba stumbles upon a thieves' hideout full of treasure, protected by a magic entry. When Ali Baba accidentally reveals the secret to his richer brother Cassim, Cassim gets trapped in the hideout, and killed by the thieves. The villains then try to track down and kill Ali Baba, but their plans are consistently thwarted by the quick-witted slave Morgiana.

In "The Three Apples," a fisherman finds a chest in the ocean containing a woman's body. Both her father and her husband try to take the blame, but the caliph discerns that the husband had killed her, believing her unfaithful. He had brought her three rare apples when she was sick, then got mad when he saw a slave with one of the apples, claiming he had received the fruit from his girlfriend. Believing the slave, he killed the woman. He then learned that his son had actually given the apple to the slave, who then lied to stir up trouble. The ruler's vizier Ja'far ascertains that his own slave is the culprit, and the caliph pardons everyone.

"The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor" are told by a famous sailor to an impoverished porter, to explain the trials and tribulations that the sailor suffered at sea. Over the course of his seven voyages, Sinbad faced: various shipwrecks; strange beasts such as giant eagles, rocs, and giants; malicious figures such as the Old Man of the Sea; and many other obstacles. Even though he dealt with danger on every voyage, Sinbad continued to sail, lured by the thrill and excitement of the sea. Finally, after seven voyages, he decided to settle down with his wealth.

"The Fisherman and the Jinni" tells the story of a fisherman whose nets retrieve a yellow jar from the sea. He opens it to release a dangerous genie, who has been trapped for hundreds of years and had decided to kill the man who rescues him. The fisherman tricks the genie into returning to the jar, and then tells him the story of "The Vizier and the Sage Duban," detailed below. After the story, the genie promises to reward the fisherman, and indeed shows him a magic lake full of strange fish. The fisherman sells the fish to the sultan, who explores the area of the lake to meet a sad prince who had been turned half to stone. He helps the prince, and then rewards everyone involved.

In "The Vizier and the Sage Duban," a wise healer named Duban heals King Yunan's leprosy, but Yunan's vizier convinces the king that Duban is out to kill him. Yunan has Duban executed on that suspicion, and Duban gifts him a magic book before he dies. After the wise man is beheaded, the king flips through the book, and then dies himself from a poison that Duban has left on its pages.

Finally, "The Three Princes and the Princes Nouronnihar" details the journeys of three brother princes who each wants to marry their cousin Nouronnihar. Their father, the Grand Sultan, promises that whichever brother finds the most valuable item will win the woman's hand. They each find amazing items - a magic carpet that transports its owner, a tube that shows whatever the viewer wishes, and an apple that heals anyone. When the brothers learn that Nouronnihar is ill, they pool the items and manage to save her life.