Sayeth Master Shakespeare!
And when sorrows and evils like these he must brave
His happiest homestead were down in the grave.
Sayeth Richard Francis Burton, in his version of Scheherazade's tale of
The Three Apples.
Western Tales with Eastern Roots is sticking to Shakespeare for one more week to explore Othello.
My absolute favorite villain is Iago. Not that I love bad guys, (although I do adore Kenneth Branagh) but I love the way his character so deftly propels everyone else to doom. Iago isn't even entirely to blame for the tragedy. He simply plays on Othello's weakness. Othello is the one who acts. The devil may whisper in your ear, but you're the one who's supposed to know better.
So The Three Apples goes something like this:
The Caliph and his right hand man, Ja'afar, are strolling the streets and come across a lamenting fisherman. Of course, they stop to find out the problem. The fisherman has pulled something gruesome from the river: a beautiful woman, dismembered and crammed into a reed sack. Our mighty and just Caliph decides the murderer must be found and brought to justice. Lucky for Ja'afar, he happens to be along for the walk and the job is assigned to him.
When Ja'afar starts asking questions about the woman in the reed sack, the weeping husband is brought before the Caliph. The man realizes his mistake, because his sons are all crying and confess to the tale of a missing apple. So what's the deal with the apple?
The man, whose wife had fallen ill, went off in search of special apples from a faraway orchard because she desired them. She was a good wife so he loved her dearly and would have done anything for her. When he returned, he placed the apples near her bed. While she slept, one of their children took an apple. That child ran into a slave who tricked him out of it. The husband came across said slave with the apple and questioned him about it. The slave's response? "I got it from my new lover."
Well. Who is a man to believe? The wife he loves so dearly, who can't explain where the apple went? Or the slave who has the red-hot apple from his new lover? The dead woman in the reed sack knows the answer to that queston.
But then who was the guilty slave? Why it was Ja'afar's own! (Bet you thought Ja'afar was the bad guy from Aladdin.)
Anyway...here's some fun with Othello: