When one accomplishes something on their own, they are praised much greater than those whom are merely handed it. Individuals who take it upon themselves to make a significant change to better themselves or others, are greatly praised or looked up to. We can label these persons as role models. A role model is one who is looked to by others as an example to be imitated. These epitomes are at work for the greater good of everyone, and are usually selfless. They are leaders and encouragers, while molding the perfect example of a hero. Not only do we find these heroes in everyday life, but we discover them through analyzing literary characters as well. In Perrault’s tale “The story of Blue Beard” and Muhsin Mahdi’s “The Arabian Nights” we are introduced to a handful of characters each with their own particular role in regards to the moral and theme of the work. In both works, we find two “role models”: The Wife in “The Story of Blue Beard” and Shahrazad in “The Arabian Knights”. Both are considered heroines to these tales, and possess contrasting roles as women in their society.
In Perrault’s “The Story of Blue Beard” we are swept into a world of disobedience, shock and sorrow. Blue Beard is a wealthy man, cursed by his ugly appearance; A blue beard. “Once on a time there was a man who had fine town and country houses, gold and silver plate, embroidered furniture, and coaches gilt all over; but unfortunately, this man had a blue beard, which made him look so ugly and terrible, that there was not a woman or girl who did not run away from him.” (5, Perrault) It is said Blue Beard had been married before, but no one knew of any of his wives. Though we are made to sympathize with him, he later finds “love” in the character of The Wife. The Wife’s character is not colorful, nor does she possess any distinguishing qualities. Despite this, they marry and she becomes Blue Beards partner and confidant. After their marriage, Blue Beard tells his wife that he is to take a journey and that in his absence, she is to care for his home. He gave her free run of his castle, except for one room that if she opened, she was to be severely punished. Of course she opens the door finding the dead bodies of his previous wives, and upon his finding out, she is to be put to death. Our tale ends with her creating a distraction, and hailing to her sisters and brothers to save her. Her brothers barge into the castle and kill her husband, Blue Beard. Post death, The Wife is awarded all of Blue Beards fortune. “It was found that Blue Beard had no heirs, and so his widow remained possessed of all his property. She employed part of it in marrying her sister Anne to a young gentleman who had long loved her; another part, in buying captains’ commissions for her two brothers, and with the rest she married herself to a very worthy man, who made her forget the miserable time she had passed with Blue Beard.” (56, Perrault) The Wife is considered our heroine here. She is looked at as a savior because she rid her town of this evil villainous man, and in the end prevailed with not only her own safety, but his riches as well.
In Mahdi’s “The Arabian Nights” we are set in an Arabian society where we are introduced to a tale of sorrow, anger and a surprising savior. In “The Arabian Nights” we hear the tale of King Shahryar, a great ruler betrayed by his wife. During a visit from his brother, our kings sibling inquires the knowledge that his ruling brother’s wife had been cheating on him every time he went away to hunt. Upon telling his king brother this, Shahryar is so angered, he not only puts his wife to death, he makes an oath that for as long as he rule, he is to marry a different woman every night, and in the morning put her to death. His self-vengeance became a plague to all the women in his land. “He continued to do this until all the girls perished, their mothers mourned, and their arose a clamor among the fathers and mothers, who called upon his head, complained to the creator of the heavens, and called for help on him who hears and answers prayers.” (14, Mahdi) After his constant routine, we finally see a hero arise in the character of Shahrzad. Shahrzad was the daughter on the king’s vizier. She insists on her father marrying her to the king because she believed she can put an end to this merciless killing Shahryar insisted upon. Even though her father refuses, she in persistent about this matter as if it is something she was made to do. She barters with her father by saying: “Such tales don’t deter me from my request. If you wish, I can tell you many such tales. In the end, if you don’t take me to King Shahryar, I shall got to him by myself behind your back and tell him that you have refused to give me to one like him and that you have begrudged your master one like me.” (20, Mahdi) Shahrzad takes it upon herself to save the lives of hundreds of innocent women and is confident that it will be her whom saves them from demise. Soon after her marriage, she unleashes her plan to tell the king a never ending story every night to keep his curiosity afoot and have him wanting to hear more the next night. Her plan is successful, and for endless nights she tells her stories, with the help of her sister encouraging each tale and ends up saving the many maidens of her country for nights on end until finally the king trusts her and marries her. Shaharzad is viewed as a hero to women, and to her nation as a whole as a savior from a brutal, ruthless king.
When examining the two works, we are approached by two very different characters. Though both are different, the two are considered role models in both of their tales. Relating back to an earlier statement, a role model is at work for the greater good. They are selfless and honorable. In Perrvalts “The Story of Blue Beard” we are encouraged to see The Wife as a hero because she contributed to the death of this dangerous, evil man. However, we skip over quite a few key facts. One huge factor is that it is not her that kills him, it is her brothers. Not only that, but her husband would of never wanted to kill her if she hadn’t disobeyed him. Her breaking the “rules” led to her close encounter with death. Not only is she deceitful, but she claimed all of his wealth in the end, and through her “trauma” became wealthy. When considering a role model, some words that come to mind are honest, loyal, kind, selfless, encouraging, loving and sense of self. The Wife does not possess any of these qualities. Even though her disobedience did lead to the events that brought Blue Beard to his end, it was not her who set an example in this story. She was disloyal and deceitful, and through that ended up rich in the end. Money seems to be the overall “winning” here, and not the development of a hero.
Shahrzad however, is a different kind of hero. After seeing firsthand what was happening to the women in her country, she took it upon herself to make a stand. Not only did her wit and intelligence help her concoct her plan, but her selflessness put the wellbeing of the women of her country before the well-being of herself. Humble about her intelligence, she knew on her own that telling her stories would make a difference. She maintained confidence the whole time, while secretly possessing the role as a leader for women. She made her decision on her own, and stuck to it, not for her, but for everyone as a whole. Showing respect and concern for others is just two of the many qualities Shahrzad possessed that labeled her a hero. Shahrzad is the perfect example of what a real “Role Model” is. Her actions are those that should be admired, and her selflessness and kindness is that which should be mimicked.
Shahrzad is depicted as a greater role model in these works over the character of The Wife. The Wife’s character is almost one that is entitled and arrogant. She is deceitful and lacks any quality a role model should possess. She should not be considered a hero at all. Shahrzad on the other hand is everything a role model she be. She demonstrates a perfect example others should follow, and in doing her good deed, she never once thought about it being for herself. Everything about her character should be praised and admired, not only from other characters in the book, but by readers as well. She is the perfect example of a female hero and role model. Being a role model is the most powerful form of educating. This is exactly what Shahrzad does. She educates us, the king and her people in order to prove a point. Shahrzas is presented as a heroine more successfully+*- and efficiently in The Arabian Nights than The Wife in The Story of Blue Beard.
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