Vathek Analysis

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A noticeable depiction of the Arab Muslim woman in the Western literature inhabits the Western culture today. This depiction has formed an important part of the Western approach towards the Eastern world and especially the Muslim one since the eighteenth century. Most of these depictions are built on the assumption that the East, and Islam in particular, " was innately and immutably oppressive to women, that the veil and segregation epitomized that oppression, and that these customs were the fundamental reasons for the general and comprehensive backwardness of Islamic societies" (Ahmed, 152).These narratives depicts Oriental woman as “being victimized”.1 In addition, these Western narratives vary: The Oriental woman may contribute in the crime…show more content…
To disprove these claims, this thesis is going to look at women in Vathek and examine how far they stand for (or do not stand for) their contemporary Western women. In order to do so, I will approach the subject of gender politics in England in the eighteenth century, and how the Western woman was considered in that period. It is through the examination of whether women in Vathek are based on stereotypes that are recognized in the contemporary Oriental fictions, or not, the questions will be answered. To what extent the representation of the Oriental woman in these contemporary Oriental literatures affects William Beckford’s depiction of Arab Muslim women in Vathek is the core of the thesis. To understand the depiction of the Arab Muslim woman in William Beckford’s Vathek and in his contemporary Oriental fiction, we need at the beginning, to trace her development in the Western fiction long before the 18th century. This will be done in the first chapter, where I discuss the presentations of the Arab Muslim woman in Western literary texts from the Medieval Ages till the Renaissance, and examine how these presentations pave the way to her presentation in the eighteenth century Western…show more content…
(positive) The translation of the Arabian Nights by Antoine Galland, which appeared in 1704, and the publication of The Turkish tales in 1708 have a significant effect on the minds of many Western readers and authors and “helped shape their attitudes towards the Orient and Islam in particular”. The second chapter investigates women in tales with Oriental origins –The Arabian Nights and The Turkish Tales - and their impact on William Beckford’s Vathek. This chapter deals with issues like slavery, racial discrimination, and Islam - Christianity relationship within the context of women's
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