Yes, that's a woman (Aladdin's mother). Yes, she's Chinese. Read on and be educated.
A tale of the Arabian Nights
series and a Public Domain Character
that has been adapted countless times, most recently popularised by the Disney version
added to the Disney Animated Canon
Like most folktales, "Aladdin" has undergone some major revisions, but the original story is as follows: Aladdin is a poor man from a Chinese city (Chinese In Name Only
. The setting is completely Islamic). One day, an evil Maghreb sorcerer approaches him, claiming to be his father's brother. He gives Aladdin a ring and tricks him into entering a booby-trapped magic cave to retrieve a fancy oil lamp
, but when Aladdin insists on getting out of the cave before handing over the lamp, the sorcerer flies into a rage and tosses him back down into the cave. Fortunately for Aladdin, the ring the sorcerer lent him is a Magic Ring
that, when rubbed, releases a Djinni
who brings him home, along with the lamp. When he gets home, Aladdin's mother starts cleaning the lamp, releasing a far more powerful Djinni who grants Aladdin his every wish.
Aladdin wishes for riches and an enormous palace, which win him the hand of the Emperor's daughter
. However, the sorcerer learns of Aladdin's good fortune and plots to steal the lamp. He tricks Aladdin's wife into trading an old lamp for a new one and, not knowing about the power of the lamp, she does. The sorcerer then wishes for Aladdin's palace, along with his wife, to be moved to Maghreb.
Aladdin despairs, but all is not lost, because he still has that magic ring. While that Djinni can't simply undo the lamp Djinni's magic, he transports Aladdin to his palace where he frees his wife, rescues his castle, beats the bad guy, and gets his lamp back.
A version of the tale can be read here
Contains examples of:
- Aluminum Christmas Trees: Though the setting still has a case of artistic license, the setting isn't completely implausible because China does in fact have Muslims.
- Arranged Marriage: As would be common for royalty in the Islamic world and everywhere else at the time. The Sultan agrees to marry off his daughter to Aladdin as soon as he sees how much money Aladdin has.
- Avenging the Villain: In the original version, the evil magician has a brother who is even more evil that comes to avenge him, but is vanquished by Aladdin with the lamp Djinni's help. This final episode is sometimes omitted from adaptations.
- Buried Alive: The evil sorcerer does this to Aladdin, sealing up the magic cave and leaving Aladdin trapped down below when Aladdin won't hand over the lamp.
- Canon Immigrant: "Aladdin" wasn't originally a part of The Book of One Thousand and One Nights (a.k.a. the Arabian Nights); in fact there is no documented source for it before it was first printed in Antoine Galland's French translation of the book in 1710. Galland claimed to have heard it from a Syrian storyteller; but there is no hard evidence for that story and and there are those who believe he made it up himself.
- Cassandra Truth: The vizier is the only one who figures out that Aladdin's riches and the incredible things he can do—like build an enormous palace in a single night—must be the result of black magic. The sultan writes him off as being jealous because the vizier's son was thrown over for Aladdin.
- Disappeared Dad: Aladdin's father, a tailor, died of disappointment after Aladdin preferred being a juvenile delinquent to following him into the tailoring business. The sorcerer from Maghreb mentions that he knew Aladdin's father but it was a ruse to get a somebody to help get the lamp.
- Disguised in Drag: The evil sorcerer's more evil brother murders an old holy woman and disguises himself as her in order to worm his way into Aladdin's home. The genie of the lamp isn't fooled.
- Ethnic Magician: The evil sorcerer is Moroccan, while the main characters are Chinese.
- Evil Chancellor: Though not the main villain (as he is in Disney's Aladdin), the Grand Vizier is still something of a Jerk Ass Obstructive Bureaucrat who wants to get rid of Aladdin so that his own son can marry the princess. (Of course, Jerkass Has a Point; see the entry for Cassandra Truth above.)
- Evil Sorcerer
- Genie in a Bottle: And also a magic ring.
- Greedy Jew: Aladdin gets gold plates from the genie of the lamp, which he sells to a Jewish merchant that cheats him.
- Guile Hero: He is a 1001 Nights hero, after all.
- Idiot Ball:
- Aladdin stupidly leaves the magic lamp out where anybody can get at it.
- Then he forgets that he still has the magic ring, and is on the verge of drowning himself in the river when he accidentally rubs it and brings forth the other genie again.
- Imagination-Based Superpower: The lamp and ring. In fact, this is the inspiration behind the original Green Lantern, Alan Scott.
- Jackass Genie: Surprisingly averted. Some versions of the tale have the more powerful Genie of the Lamp bound by a powerful curse that forces him to obey both the letter and the spirit of the wish.
- The strongest aversion comes during the evil plot of the second Evil Sorcerer. He plans to make Aladdin wish for a Rukh's egg - because such wish would be a deathly insult for a genie, as the Rukh is, apparently, a queen of genies. The genie is offended all right - however, he doesn't punish Aladdin, but tells him about the disguised Evil Sorcerer instead.
- Jerkass With A Heart Of Gold: Aladdin himself, though part of it may be Values Dissonance - a lot of the heroes of the 1001 Nights were unafraid to be callous or ruthless. Most notably: in order to get the princess away from her betrothed Aladdin sends his djinn to kidnap and torment them both every night, until they come to the conclusion that the marriage is cursed and split up - at which point he swoops in and romances her.
- Make a Wish: The entire premise.
- The Makeover: Aladdin goes from poor man to wealthy prince with the help of a Genie in a Bottle.
- Meaningful Name: Aladdin is the Anglicized form of Ala Al-Din which means "excellence of religion" or "light of Allah".
- Only the Chosen May Wield: The evil sorcerer discovers through his necromancy that Aladdin is the only one that can lift the door and gain entrance to the magic cave. This is why he goes to all the trouble of pretending to be Aladdin's Long-Lost Relative. The story does not explain exactly what is special about Aladdin or why he is the only one who can gain entrance to the cave.
- Race Lift: The origins of the story are usually ignored and the characters made Arab to fit in with the general "Arabian Nights" theme.
- Ring of Power: Which has the Djinn of its own, although less powerful than the lamp's one.
- Science Marches On: Before the discovery of the Americas, Maghreb and China were the opposite ends of the known world. Thus, the locations are meant to underscore how valuable the lamp must be that someone would travel all the way across the world for it. Similarly, the genie's ability to just zip back and forth between the opposite ends of the world like it's nothing would have been mind-boggling at the time. Of course, the significance of those regions in relation to each other is not obvious to readers with a modern understanding of geography.
- Sealed Badass in a Can: The Genie.
- Slipping a Mickey: This is how Aladdin eventually retrieves the magic lamp from the evil sorcerer.
- Spear Counterpart: To "Cinderella", arguably.
- Standard Hero Reward: Sort of— Aladdin's wishes for wealth and a neat palace make him a viable husband for the princess, but he's already married to her by the time anything heroic happens.
- Uptown Girl: Firmly in the Zany Scheme category, with Aladdin going to enormous lengths to get the rich princess.
- Villain Ball: The evil sorcerer could have just given Aladdin a lift out of the cave, and then taken the lamp. Instead, after Aladdin doesn't hand the lamp over (he needs help getting up the last step to the surface), the sorcerer throws a tantrum and seals up the cave with Aladdin and the lamp inside. If that wasn't bad enough, the sorcerer completely forgets that he gave Aladdin a magic ring to keep him safe in the magic cave. The ring has a genie in it, and said genie brings Aladdin out of the cave.
- We All Live in America: The story is set in China, but almost everyone is Muslim (and the one character who isn't is a Jew), there are no Buddhists or Confucians, all the characters have Arabic names and the monarchy is distinctly Muslim in style (a sultan with a vizier). It seems likely that the setting of "China" is meant simply to be a non-specific location far off to the east.