This article explores dimensions of motifs of rescue of women in peril from dangerous others: religious, political, or ethnic enemies; malevolent supernaturals; or unacceptable human suitors. Defense of women’s chastity and sexual vulnerability are immediate and pervasive communal concerns. Across an array of Persian-language oral and written narrative genres, what kinds of rescue/escape are possible and impossible? What are the forms of female agency entailed by different scenarios (differentiated by genre)? What is tellable, what is untellable, by whom, to whom? The parameters of possibility align with genre: sacred legend appears to be backed in some cases by older mythic associations; romance and folktale are identified by tellers as fictional and fanciful; local oral historical accounts and personal experience narratives have constraints on tellability related to the social vulnerability of victims. These thematic variations on female peril and rescue may propagate orally in local communities then also appear in written form as legends, tales, memorates, historical and journalistic accounts, and memoirs intended for different audiences. In a cultural area where the peaceful (and consensual) seclusion of women in protected domestic space was traditionally regarded as an index of social order and well-being, a striking element of certain legends is that of immobilized sequestration as both escape and consecrated agency for women. The place of refuge also becomes a locus of female sacred power.
Mills, Margaret A.
"Refuge in the Rock: Chthonic Rescue and Other Narrations of Women in Peril,"
Narrative Culture: Vol. 8:
1, Article 5.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/narrative/vol8/iss1/5