The History of African and Middle Eastern Literature
The difference between African and Middle Eastern tales is remarkably noticed through the use of animal characters in African tales and human characters in Middle Eastern tales. However, while the aspect of character choice is important for two sides, the reasons behind the choices are essential to the analysis of these two kinds of literature. In this essay, analysis is provided for African and Middle Eastern literature based on the example of tales. Tortoise and the Wisdom Gourd is the chosen story for the analysis of African tales. On the other hand, The Adventures of Urad, or the Fair Wanderer is chosen to represent Middle Eastern tales. Both African and Middle Eastern literatures is based on religious biases that dictate the manner of characters’ behavior. The two literatures represent moral biases controlled by self-proclaimed religious disorders.
While the Adventures of Urad, or the Fair Wanderer and Tortoise and the Wisdom Gourd incorporate different types of characters at the same time having been authored in different parts of the world, the cultural bias between the two is persistent. With regards to the Tortoise and the Wisdom Gourd tale, it is evident that the inhabitants of the animal kingdom lived together and, in most cases, used to share their resources. This is evident from the consideration that Tortoise was made regarding the storage of wisdom, “I will collect all the wisdoms in the world and keep them in a place where no other animal could partake of” (Spears, 1991, p. 108). This means that wisdom was initially available to everyone, and everyone was comfortable with sharing wisdom with the rest of the inhabitants. On the other hand, apart from the sharing of wisdom, the land belonged to everyone, and there were no marked territories that would forbid one type of animal from residing in a particular part of the kingdom (Spears, 1991, p. 109).
Contrary to the animal kingdom culture depicted in the tale about Tortoise, a remarkable divide is showcased in the The Adventures of Urad, or the Fair Wanderer. The division is brought about by the aspect of authority, which isolated the residents from the leadership. While the residents were poor and had to fend for themselves using the small silk resources available to them, the leadership, on the other hand, was evicting subjects from their land to use it for hunting and sporting. As depicted in literature “… Almurah resolving large tract of land for hunting and sporting, commanded the inhabitants of fourteen hundred villages to be expelled…” (Morell, 1767). In this case, it is evident that the poor and the underprivileged were left on their own to toil while the authority was benefiting from the public land – this shows the lack of unity and fairness. However, drawing some similarity in culture from the tales shows that while leadership and subjects may not be able to share residence or habitat, being in the same level fosters unity. Such unity can be witnessed in the scene where Urad’s mother helped poor Houadir to get back on her feet regardless of the fact that she did not make enough from her silk business (Morell, 1767). Tortoise and the Wisdom Gourd, on the other hand, depicts unity in the case where Tortoise is unable to climb the tree with his wisdom gourd and had to depend on Snail’s wisdom.
While culture may influence or be influenced by religion, various characters portrayed in the two tales depict a sense of acquired culture non-defined by the surroundings they existed within. For example, the animal kingdom believed in the skies and sky spirits and held its faith regarding the provisions supplied to them (Spears, 1991, p. 111). Although Tortoise was cunning and selfish, he showed gratitude to the sky spirits for the plentiful wisdom he had. However, while the abundance of resources was owed to higher power, the main character in the Tortoise and the Wisdom Gourd does not portray religious behavior within the territory. This means that the character is highly motivated by earthly possessions while, at the same time, hides in the shadows of religion.
The Adventures of Urad, or the Fair Wanderer depicts a similar but rather divided notion of the aspect of religion. The poor, as represented by Urad, Nouri, and Houadir among many others, display moral connection with heavenly being, Allah. For example, Urad talks to Houadir by saying, “…it was Allah who created my best of parents…” (Morell, 1767). For the better part where Houadir lives around Urad, the aspect of morality is highly emphasized with regards to personal behavior. Such is depicted in the conversation between Urad and Houadir where the latter says, “…it is one part of virtue to bear with patience and resignation the unaltered decrees of heaven…” (Morell, 1767). This quote from the Middle Eastern tale brings about the difference between leadership of the Middle Eastern people and the actual survival and faith of the subjects. In addition, the African tale shows that, amongst inhabitants of the same habitat, greed is a personal character which displays cultural and religious disorders.
African and Middle Eastern literatures is based on religious biases that dictate the manner of characters’ behavior. The two literatures represent moral biases controlled by self-proclaimed religious disorders. African tales tend to rely more on animal characters due to the fact that underdeveloped has engineered the region to fall victim of peripheral religions. However, the use of animals shows cases of particular faith to a central being. This allows authors to develop the aspect of morality based on natural characteristics. If the African tales used human characters, the authors would be unable to display culture, religion and morality without specifying unfamiliar regions of the African setting.