Scheherazade in The Arabian Nights is a better storyteller than her father. She convinces the audience and he doesn't. Is the fault in the tale or tellers?

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Let us remember that in the framing narrative that encompasses the many different stories that are told, Scheherazade has much more reason and motive to tell much more convincing stories than her father. She, after all, swiftly recognises that the only thing that will keep her alive night after night is not her beauty or her charms, but her skill with her tongue as she tells tales that crucially must end with a cliffhanger that will make her husband spare her once more to hear how the tale will develop.

We therefore have to understand how context becomes a crucial part of our interpretation of Scheherazade's skill in storytelling. She, unlike her father, has so much more to lose, and therefore we can see in her tales the talent that is so often produced when its owner is pushed to extremes or forced to invent out of desperation. Storytelling is the key to Scheherazade's liberation, and she literally tells stories as if her life depends on it, because it does.


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