Home and the Unheimlich in the Arabian Nights: Shahrazad's Curative Themes Linking the Story-cycles to the Frame-Story
CitationHariry, Layla A. 2010. Home and the Unheimlich in the Arabian Nights: Shahrazad's Curative Themes Linking the Story-cycles to the Frame-Story. Master's thesis, Harvard University, Extension School.
AbstractThis study examines the unheimlich themes Freud defines in his essay "The `Uncanny'" and asks if an unconscious presence of home links the tales in the Arabian Nights to the frame-story. If so, how is this curative? Previous scholarship tends to emphasize the spectacular and adventurous elements of the tales at the expense of home. Also noted is the patient-healer relationship between the two main characters in the frame-story, specifically, Shahrazad's powerful storytelling as a device to cure the mad ruler Shahriyar. A look at psychoanalytic ideas seen in primary Freudian works written around the time of "The `Uncanny'" guides a closer reading of three Nights tales that include bride abduction: the frame-story, "The Second Dervish's Tale" in "The Porter Cycle" and "The Story of Aladdin and the Magic Lamp." The abundant use of Freud's uncanny themes is counted from the Haddawy translations of these tales, primarily from the Mahdi edition, and listed in the appendices of this study. These unheimlich themes include the double, repetition, omnipotent thought, death /dead bodies, magic, madness, dismemberment/decapitation, and being buried alive. Freudian psychoanalytic theory is used to explain how Shahrazad's curative storytelling power utilizes these seemingly negative narrative devices to reconnect Shahriyar, or any listener, to hidden memories of home feelings. The comparative look at the three bride-abduction tales ultimately shows the Nights to assert female consent to relationships as necessary to successfully find home. Thus, home and the loss of home thematically link the trauma-induced madness, curative tales, and corpus of the Arabian Nights as a whole through the unheimlich.
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