Role of Shehreyar in the Thousand and One Nights

This essay deals with the role of Shehreyar in the Thousand and One Nights, discussing changes that occur in his character between the prologue and epilogue. It has one source.

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One of literature’s most enduring tales, The Thousand and One Nights centers round the storytelling capabilities of princess Scheherazade and its effect on the cruel King Shehreyar. This essay examines how the king’s changes the cruel nature of his character by the end of the tale.

At the beginning of the book, we are presented with a very bleak picture of the . He is apparently a good king until he discovers that his wife has been unfaithful to him, and lops off her head. After this incident, it becomes evident that the king is disillusioned and disgruntled with women altogether and is unwilling to afford them any mercy or room for doubt whatsoever. He adopted any of marrying a new girl every day and beheading her the next morning. This continued until his Wazir’s daughter, a beautiful, good and noble girl named Scheherazade wedded him. She used her feminine charms and natural resilience to help stop the . Every night she would tell the King a story the likes of which he had never heard before and each morning when the time came for the decapitation, the King would send the executioner away. He became so reliant on the stories and the powerful charm and manner of his wife that one day he entirely forgot to tell the executioner to return. In this way, the cycle of death was effectively ended. By the end of the tale, we find the king’s character has reverted to its old nature, and that he has succumbed to Scheherazade’s goodness and patience and love.


It shows us that the good that is inside every individual can never be extinguished. In the case of the king, the adverse circumstances he was in after his wife’s infidelity temporarily caused him to abandon all goodness in his actions, but when he was exposed to love and patience and gentleness, he regained the quality of goodness he had lost.


1) Dawood. N. The Thousand and One Nights. Alibis, 1990.