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Parallels Between “1001 Nights” and Pizan’s “The Book of the City of Ladies”

The Book of the City Ladies presents Dido, the foundress, a tender lover, and wife to the Trojan hero, Aeneas. The book by Christine de Pizan reveals Dido as a strong and powerful character, and her only flaw is excessive love (Zajko and Hoyle 7). Besides, the author is a female, and she portrays the vision of a sensual woman who is pure and chaste. Christine de Pizan focuses on Dido’s inner and humanistic qualities, such as empathy, loyalty, and delicacy.

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In contrast, Virgil’s Aeneid offers another vision of Dido’s myth. The character possesses strong and independent traits, being a powerful ruler. Virgil adds one marriage to the story of Dido, undermining Christine de Pizan’s vision of a loyal wife. Moreover, in Virgil’s story, Dido foreshadows a great war and is led to a cruel death. The book reconstructs the image of a medieval woman: “I realize that women have accomplished many good things” (Pizan and Richards 1). The differences are apparent; Christine de Pizan shows a revisionist view of Dido and endows her with human and softer character traits.

The parallel between the story of Shahrazad and King Shahrayar and the Merchant and the Demon seems to be direct. Both stories are about empathy and forgiveness; similarly, as the Demon delays the Merchant’s death for a year, the king postpones Shahrazad’s execution. King Shahrayar says: “I begin to regret having killed so many girls” (Mardrus and Mathers 582). These stories contain morals about justice and the human soul; therefore, all characters who strived for blood turned out to be hostages of their desire for revenge.

Christine de Pizan was a medieval female writer and author of multiple philosophical tractates. It is important to note that medieval times were marked by male domination, and Christine de Pizan became one of the first feminist writers. She can be rightfully named a woman of great endurance and courage, similarly to the character of Shahrazad. The heroine of One Thousand and One Nights also did not scare to rebel against men’s superiority and goes against the system built by a male.

Works Cited

Mardrus, Joseph Charles, and Powys Mathers. The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night. Routledge, 1986.

Pizan, De Christine, and Earl Jeffrey Richards. The Book of the City of Ladies (English and French Edition). 1st ed., Persea Books, 1982.

Zajko, Vanda, and Helena Hoyle. A Handbook to the Reception of Classical Mythology (Wiley Blackwell Handbooks to Classical Reception). 1st ed., Wiley-Blackwell, 2017.

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StudyCorgi. "Parallels Between “1001 Nights” and Pizan’s “The Book of the City of Ladies”." October 11, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/parallels-between-1001-nights-and-pizans-the-book-of-the-city-of-ladies/.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "Parallels Between “1001 Nights” and Pizan’s “The Book of the City of Ladies”." October 11, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/parallels-between-1001-nights-and-pizans-the-book-of-the-city-of-ladies/.

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