Discuss the theme of deception in the story The Arabian Nights by Sir Richard Burton.

The theme of deception runs throughout The Arabian Nights, a series of Middle Eastern folk tales translated by Sir Richard Burton. These stories can best be understood as trickster tales, narratives that celebrate the power oppressed people can exercise by using their wits. The trickster theme begins with the frame story of Scheherazade, who stays alive by offering the king something he wants in return for her life.

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Like folktales around the world, a main theme in Burton's translations of a group of middle eastern stories called The Arabian Nights is deception. These stories of deception are examples of trickster tales. Trickster narratives, which have an important place in folk cultures everywhere, celebrate the ability of those with very little power to use their wits to trick or manipulate the powerful.

Scheherazade, the storyteller, is herself a prime example of a trickster. Though women seemingly have no power against the king in her society, who can marry and execute them at will, Scheherazade becomes a powerful exemplar of the way the oppressed can exercise power. She does this by offering the king something he wants, the ending of a suspenseful tale, as a bargaining tool to stay alive another day. The frame of the book therefore shows that even the seemingly powerless have hidden power if they can discover what it is. It is also notable that Scheherazade deliberately maneuvers to take on the...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 885 words.)

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on June 22, 2020