Shamhat and Scheherazade Essay

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1508 Words
Date:  2022-05-17

In prior society, women had no important role and are treated as male objects. It was a male-dominated society and the only thing the woman could do was to submit and obey her husband. Men use women the as they satisfy and they have no voice in the society. Although the culture in most texts is dominated by male women also contribute significantly to fulfill their goals in the society. The text "The Epic of The Epic of Gilgamesh" and "The Thousand and One Night" portray strong female characters, Shamhat and Scheherazade. The two characters try to save their kingdom by risking their own lives. They try to fight for equality and respect in the society through their deeds. The two characters are clever, strong and courageous and will do anything to save their kingdoms. Although women have fewer privileges and rights compared to men, they give up their personal freedoms to take on a mission of sorts for their kingdoms.

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Both Shamhat and Scheherazade are heroines because they risk their lives to save their kingdoms. In the text "The Thousand and One Night" Scheherazade realizes that all the virgin girls in the kingdoms are over she sacrifices herself to marry a psychopath called Shahryar who marries a virgin every day and kill her after the wedding night. The king kills the virgin as revenge after his wife cheated on him. Shah Zaman and Shahryar discovered that their wives were having affairs behind their back. They were very disappointed and concluded that all women are untrustworthy, malicious and unworthy of power. As soon as they got home they planned to marry a virgin every day, bed her and kill her in the morning. They first killed their wives and killed other girls until he was out of virgins. Scheherazade and her sister had been spared since her dad was responsible for girl's execution. She wanted to step up and stop the virgin murders in the kingdom and she felt that she would sacrifice herself rather than overlook the situation. She decided that she would either live or be a ransom for the virgin daughters of Moslems and the cause of their deliverance from his hands and [her father's]" (Mahdi 56). She portrays an act of heroism because she is ready to forsake her life, safety, and potentiality to save a thousand virgins. Likewise, Shamhat is a heroine in her kingdom because she sacrifices to turn Enkidu, a beast into a man so that he can protect the kingdom. Shamhat uses her cunning woman's ways to convert Enkidu into a civilized being, and she presents her heroism because she was not afraid that this beat would kill her. She agrees to let him eat and drink what other men eat and drink which means that she had sex with him. Shamhat tells him "'Enkidu, this is the food and drink men eat and drink. Eat and drink your fill'" (Kovacs 40). After that, he became a man and started protecting the kingdom and the author says "Then he washed his hairy body, anointed himself with oil, and dressed his body in new clothes so that he looked as beautiful as a bridegroom. He took up a weapon to guard the flocks and shepherds against the wolves and lions that preyed upon them. Therefore, at night, with Enkidu to guard them, the shepherds could lie down in peaceful sleep" (Kovacs 43). This indicates that Shamat was a strong woman who could not fear handling a beast to achieve her mission of saving the kingdom.

Both of them had a career. Shamhat reputation of a temple prostitute was well known in the society. When trapper arrives in Uruk he speaks about how irresistible Shamhat is as a woman to King Gilgamesh. The king also agrees to the advice and tells the trapper's father he would try to ask Enkidu to go see her. This shows that he also knew about her accomplishment probably because he slept with her too. However, the real evidence of her career is portrayed when Shamhat and the Enkidu actually returned at the watering hole. When she reveals her body to him, it does indeed entice him to sleep sex with her. After 46 days and seven nights, her power changes Enkidu from a wild animal to a man. Similarly, Scheherazade has a carrier as a narrative nerd. She has read many annuals, books, stories and legends of preceding Kings, and the stories. She has many instances and examples of previous men and things.

According to the author of the text "The Thousand and One Night," she had read a thousand books of histories involving to departed rulers and antique races. She had perused poet work and knew many of them by heart (Mahdi 17). Moreover, she studied sciences and philosophy, arts and accomplishments. Scheherazade is "pleasant and polite, wise and witty, well read and well bred" (Mahdi 67). She was excellent at her work and this is why she caught the attention of the Kin every night and saved her life and that of other virgins in her kingdom. She uses what she is best to trap the kin and makes him forget about his plan of killing a virgin every night.

Both Scheherazade and Shamhat are clever women and uses wise plans to transform their kingdoms. Scheherazade plans to use stories a way of saving her life and those of a thousand others. She is a wise woman and knows that when a story is told to only one person it becomes boring and therefore she enlists the help of her sister. She plans that her sister will be requesting for a story every night where she and the king will be listening. To keep the kin in suspense one story was a continuation of another and the king would not wait to hear it the next night. Her clever plan was a success and she continued telling stories for 1001 nights and she gave birth to three sons.

She asks the king whether he forgave her because she gave him three sons but the king says it was because of her honesty and purity. It was her trick of stories that saved her life. When she told the king the last story, he reminds her of the many characters in her previous stories who dealt with more complicated issues than him. When she completed her stories, "she ceased to speak, and when King Shahryar heard her speech and profited by that which she said, he summoned up his reasoning powers and cleansed his heart and caused his understanding revert." (Mahdi 67). It is clear Scheherazade words restores the sense of the king's sense and allow him to abandon his preconception. The man who for a long time condemned women comes to understanding that Scheherazade is a redeemer sent to stop the slaughter and oppression of God's creatures. Similarly, Shamhat sets a plan on how to convert Enkidu into a human being. She is a beautiful nitty woman whose no man can say no to and she uses these qualities to trap Enkidu. When Enkidu is dying he curses her for turning him into a human but god Shamash reminds Enkidu that Shamhat assisted him to become friends with Gilgamesh. Enkidu blesses her abundantly. Shamhat finally gets the blessings she has been waiting for. She wanted the ancient Mesopotamia society to be the wealthiest and most successful in the world.

Both Shamhat and Scheherazade are independent-minded women who follow her decisions no matter who tries to stop her. When Scheherazade decides to marry the King her father was against the idea and tried to stop her at all cost. He even threatened to beat her up if she continued with her idea but he did not listen to him. She does not listen to her father and says, "I will never desist, O my father, nor shall this tale change my purpose. Leave such talk and tattle. I will not listen to thy words and, if thou deny me, I will marry myself to him despite the nose of thee." (Mahdi 88). Shamhat is also an independent-minded lady who is willing to do anything even to an extent of sleeping with a wild man to save her kingdom.


In conclusion, Shamhat and Scheherazade are strong and courageous women who are ready to transform their society. The text "The Epic of The Epic of Gilgamesh" and "The Thousand and One Night" portray strong female characters, Shamhat and Scheherazade. The two characters try to save their kingdom by risking their own lives at the expense of dignity, and happiness. In the end, they all achieve their mission, for instance, Scheherazade makes the kin to come back to his senses and he changes his attitude towards women. He abandons his plan of killing virgins after he sleeps with them. On the other hand, Shamhat is blessed by Enkidu after she converted him to a human.

Works Cited

Kovacs, Maureen Gallery. The epic of Gilgamesh. Stanford University Press, 1989.

Mahdi, Muhsin S. The Thousand and One Night. Brill, 1995.

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Shamhat and Scheherazade Essay. (2022, May 17). Retrieved from

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