Monday, November 09, 2015

"How to Choose a Husband"

"How to Choose a Husband; or, All is Not Gold that Glitters. An Eastern Tale" (23 February 1850)

Zeila and Amedan are blessed by a good marriage because Amedan doesn't surround Zeila with guards "as was the custom of his country". But Zeila is bored with her man and confides in an old woman from a nearby village that her husband "'has no brilliancy; there is such a sameness in his character that it makes me die of ennui', he never rises above the generality of men, nor do I ever hear him praised for his talents or his wit... I perceive with grief that my husband will never make a figure in the world'". The old woman uses a magic mirror to display various men who might excite Zeila. Predictably, Zeila decides after all that Amadan has "the only qualities that can ensure the happiness of a wife - kindness, delicacy of mind, implicit confidence ... and good common sense - a treasure far more precious, and which is daily becoming more rare, than great or splendid talents" . Thus the tale praises righteousness, simplicity, and humility in a husband, qualities inherent in the average "unexceptional" partner. 

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