In The Arabian Nights, how are we to understand Shahrayar's madness. Does it make sense—are male egos in male-dominated societies that frail or is this a special case?

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In The Arabian Nights, or One Thousand and One Nights, Shahrayar's fury is understandable—once the Sultan realizes he can trust Scheherazade, his heart is softened by love. "Madness" is a form of insanity—on-going.

To the core of your question, this is not surprising for the culture. His is not a frail ego in the context of that culture; it is must as much a demonstration by his wife of her disrespect (in that male-dominated society) for her husband. She brings embarrassment and shame on a sultan!

In countries around the world today, a woman may be raped and it so shames the family that (unfairly and horrifically) the girl is often stoned to death because of the shame it brings to the family. In Asian cultures, we know the samurai would take his own life in a painful and horrible way when he believed he had lost his honor. These are time-honored codes. These are things we do not do in the U.S., but if we step back, too often we see countless people here have no shame—unembarrassed by their...

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