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Plot Points of Galland's "Aladdin"

• Mustafa, an impoverished tailor in one of the kingdoms of China, has a son Aladdin, an “obstinate, disobedient, and mischievous” youth who “regarded nothing his father or mother said to him.” His idle and reckless ways cause his father so much pain he died.
• Aladdin refuses still to learn a trade and take care of his mother, so she sells everything in Mustafa’s shop and begins to spin cotton to sustain herself and Aladdin. This is their situation when Aladdin is fifteen and our story properly begins.
• A stranger, an African magician, arrives in town and notices Aladdin. He learns of the family’s situation and approaches Aladdin under the premise that he is the youth’s long-lost uncle. He showers gifts, favors, and promises to bring Aladdin into a reputable trade and so deceives both Aladdin and his mother.
• One day, the magician takes Aladdin far outside the city, to a narrow valley where with his understanding of magic he opens a subterranean cavern and instructs Aladdin to enter. When Aladdin refuses, he slaps the youth so hard Aladdin bleeds and may have lost a few teeth. Frightened, Aladdin complies and the magician tells him to retrieve first the lamp and then he may touch anything else within the caves. He also places a ring upon Aladdin’s finger, claiming it is a preservative against evil.
• Aladdin does as he is bidden and as he returns, fills his pockets with the marvelous fruit of some trees. At the entrance, his false uncle endeavors to take the lamp before helping Aladdin out of the ground. Enraged that Aladdin refuses to hand it over, the magician shuts up the cavern with Aladdin (and the lamp) still inside.
• Trapped in the cave, Aladdin bemoans his situation. After two days, he decides to commend himself to God and die. As he goes to pray, his hands rub the ring the magician gave him, and the Genius of the ring appears. The Genius rescue Aladdin, who heads home.
• At home, Aladdin recounts everything to his mother. She takes the lamp and, thinking to sell it for a small sum, begins to clean it with water and sand. When she rubs it, the Genius of the Lamp appears, frightening her. Aladdin is unsurprised, having already encountered a Genius, and demands it bring them food, which it does instantly and on sumptuous platters.
• The food lasts them two days, and then they slowly sell each piece of plate ware the Genius provided with the food. These funds sustain them for quite some time as they do not alter their lifestyle though their means have greatly improved. Slowly, Aladdin begins to mingle with better and better crowds of people, taking an interest in the commerce and world about him. He grows in stature and learning as the years pass. “This all arose from the power the wonderful lamp possessed, of acquiring, by degrees, for those who had it, every perfection adapted to the situation at which such a person arrived, by making a good and proper use of its virtues.”
• One day, Aladdin hears that the princess Badroulboudour going to the baths, and so hides himself behind the bath door where he catches a glimpse of her. Instantly smitten, he bids his mother go ask the sultan for her hand in marriage. While she insists that this is not only possible, but ludicrous, he maintains that nothing shall stop him. He gives her the fruits he collected from the cavern as a present to the sultan, which he has learned, through his education in the world, are the most perfect and precious jewels ever known to man.
• She dutifully presents herself at the palace for many days until the sultan takes notice. With every possible humility, she presents Aladdin’s request. The grand vizier, whose son is to marry the princess, is averse to this, but when she shows him Aladdin’s present, the sultan is greatly pleased. The grand vizier convinces the sultan to give his own son three months to provide something more magnificent, and if he fails, then Aladdin may marry the princess. The sultan agrees and sends Aladdin’s mother home with the news.
• Before the three months conclude, however, Aladdin sees the city in a great state of rejoicing, for the princess is marrying the vizier’s son. Determined to prevent their union, on their wedding night Aladdin commands the Genius of the Lamp to bring the nuptial bed to his home and stuff the bridegroom in the privy. Aladdin lays himself down next to the princess with his sabre between them to indicate she has every right to kill him if he attempts her honor. The Genius returns the couple to the palace in the morning, remaining invisible and inaudible to both the whole time.
• This state of affairs quite undoes the princess and when the events are repeated a second time, she reveals the truth to her father in the morning. The grand vizier’s son confirms her story. The grand vizier and the sultan agree to annul the marriage rather than force them to suffer so.
• Aladdin sends his mother back with a reminder of the sultan’s promise. The sultan, prompted by the grand vizier, requires that Aladdin provide “forty basons of massive gold, quite full of the same sort of things which you have already presented me with from [Aladdin], brought by an equal number of black slaves, each of whom shall be conducted by a white slave, young, well-made, of good appearance, and richly dressed” and then he may marry the princess.
• Upon hearing the demand, Aladdin calls forth the Genius of the Lamp, who brings forth such an embassy. He sends them to the palace with his mother and the sultan agrees to the marriage.
• Aladdin’s mother returns with the news and he summons the Genius of the Lamp, who arrays him in a fashion of clothes, slaves, horses, and wealth so magnificent that the whole city adores him. He also has his slaves toss out gold to everyone as they go through the city.
• Aladdin, now quite the noble gentleman, entreats the sultan to allow him to build a palace for the princess before they wed. Using the Genius of the Lamp, overnight such a palace, of greater splendor than anything known in the world, appears next to the sultan’s palace. Only the vizier, still bitter, suspects enchantment.
• When Aladdin finally presents himself to princess Badroulboudour, she is quite smitten with him, so handsome and noble is he now. They are wed and live happily for many years.
• The African magician learns that Aladdin, far from being dead, is now the prince and has been living a wondrous life. He realizes Aladdin has the lamp and learned of its value.
• In order to steal the lamp, the magician disguises himself as a poor peddler, trading old lamps for new ones. He goes to Aladdin’s palace while Aladdin is out, and Badroulboudour, not realizing the true value of his lamp, trades with the magician.
• Gleefully, the magician scurries to a hidden place where he summons the Genius of the Lamp and demands he remove the palace and all its inhabitants back to his home in Africa.
• When Aladdin returns, the sultan arrests him, ready to execute him for the disappearance of his daughter. However, the city’s denizens, who love Aladdin, follow him back to the palace and Aladdin wisely advises the sultan to free him or suffer a rebellion. The sultan realizes this wisdom, frees him, and he will submit himself to be executed.
• Aladdin bemoans that he did not keep the lamp with him and summons the Genius of the Ring. Aladdin asks the Genius where his palace is but the Genius replies it is beyond his ability to respond and Aladdin must ask the Genius of the Lamp. Instead, Aladdin asks the Genius to take him to his princess and his palace, which the Genius does.
• Learning everything, Aladdin and Badroulboudour scheme to defeat the magician. She must pretend to cease grieving and entertain the magician and spike his wine with a powder Aladdin procures. Aladdin waits outside, disguised as a peasant.
• Everything goes according to plan, the powder kills the magician, Aladdin recovers the lamp, and everyone returns safely to the sultanate. Joy everywhere.
• A year later, the magician’s younger brother, also a magician, learns of his brother’s demise and swears revenge upon Aladdin. This second magician enters the city and learns of the holy woman Fatima, known for curing headaches. He kills Fatima and disguises himself as the holy woman to gain access to Princess Badroulboudour.
• Once inside the palace with Princess Badroulboudour, the magician exclaims over the wonders of the rooms, but hints that the most magnificent room is missing something—the egg of the roc to hang from the center of the domed roof.
• The princess mentions this to Aladdin, who summons the Genie of the Lamp to procure the egg. The Genie screams, for the egg of the roc is his master, and cries out against Aladdin. However, he reveals that he knows Aladdin asks this of him in ignorance and that the evil magician is behind this treachery. He warns Aladdin of the magician’s intent to kill him.
• Returning to the princess, Aladdin fakes a headache and Badroulboudour sends for “Fatima.” Aladdin inclines his head to her and the magician pulls out a poniard to stab Aladdin. Aladdin stabs the magician with his own poniard, killing him, and then reveals all to Badroulboudour.
• The sultan, after a long life, dies and Badroulboudour rises to power. She transfers power to Aladdin and they reigned together for many years.