Aladdin and the Magic Lamp – Meaning and Symbolism

Aladdin’s story hides a beautiful message – wishes only come true once you can abandon them. Understand the symbolic meaning of Aladdin’s magic lamp.

When French orientalist Antoine Galland came back to Europe after a long stay in the Middle East, where he had lived and worked, he brought in his bag some of the most beautiful manuscripts of the Islamic tales, including those that belong to the One Thousand and One Nights.

Being well versed in Arabic, Turkish and Persian languages, Galland translated the manuscripts to French, editing some parts and adapting them to the European style in order to please western society. Although many scholars believe that Aladdin was never a part of the original tales and that it was probably Gallands invention, the spirit of the Islamic wisdom pervades the story of Aladdins magic lamp, indicating that the author knew much about middle eastern philosophy.

Later, Disney revived this wonderful story, creating another version, but maintaining the symbolism associated with the magic lamp, the genie, and the beautiful princess who wanted freedom.

Disneys Aladdin Plot

In a magnificent palace, the beautiful daughter of the Sultan, Jasmine, is unhappy. She has always lived inside the walls of the temple, surrounded by beauty and luxury, however, there is something she doesnt have –- freedom. Disguised, she escapes and goes to the marketplace in order to see the world outside the walls of the palace. But, of course, she gets in trouble when she attempts to eat some fruits without paying.

The young and homeless Aladdin, however, saves her from being accused of thievery. Jasmine thanks her new friend, but he is taken away by the Sultans guard.

Meanwhile, the Grand Vizir of the palace, the sorcerer Jafar, plans to retrieve a magic lamp from inside the Cave of Wonders. Inside the lamp there is a genie that makes all dreams come true. However, all his attempts to get the lamp have failed because only a person who has a pure heart can take the lamp. This is when he releases Aladdin in order to reach the magic lamp and bring it back to him.

Aladdin gets the lamp but manages to fool Jafar. So, he keeps the lamp to himself. Soon, he discovers the genie inside the lamp, who grants him three wishes.

Aladdins Three Wishes

In order to win Jasmines heart, Aladdin needs to be a prince, as a princess is not allowed to fall in love with a common citizen. So, Aladdins first wish is to become a prince. His wish is immediately granted, and he becomes prince Ali. Jasmine then falls in love with Ali.

Aladdin uses his second wish when he is thrown into the ocean by Jafar. The genie rescues Aladdin and sends him back to the palace, but his secret is unveiled, and he is no longer a prince. The most meaningful part of the story is when Aladdin chooses to release the genie, realizing that Jasmine had fallen in love with a fake version of himself and not with his true being. However, its only when the genie is set free, and Aladdin returns to his original condition, that Jasmine understands that he needed to be a prince not break the law, and so they get married and live happily ever after.

The Symbolic Meaning of the Genie and the Lamp

Some schools of thought of the ancient eastern world viewed the physical body as a tool to reach the divine. The spirit, which is a persons true identity, needs to take a body made of flesh and blood in order to acquire consciousness, and learn the difference between good and evil. The body is full of wishes and desires – it becomes attached to the matter and longs for material things, forgetting that the body is just a temporary home for the spirit.

So, when Aladdin goes to the Cave of Wonders in order to find the magic lamp, he is advised not to touch anything, despite all the gold and sparkling gems he finds in there. This is a metaphor also used in the Bible, when Adam and Eve are told not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, symbolizing that the consciousness should not be entranced by the wonders of the physical world.

The genie, then, is the ego that comes along with the physical body. The ego naturally tries to grant all the wishes a person may have, which is an important part in the evolutionary process of the soul. The wishes, when used wisely, can make a person excel in all tasks and reach goals. The ancients understood that a persons highest goal should be to reunite with the source and no longer need a physical body, and therefore, knowledge should be used to attain this objective.

Princess Jasmine represents the other half of the soul who awaits until the incarnated consciousness comes home after a long journey in the physical existence. Many philosophical traditions of the ancient world theorized that people reach the human ideal once they become conscious of their true spiritual nature and are able to abandon the worldly pleasures.

So, when Aladdin releases the genie, he arrives at the final destination, proving he no longer needs the ego. This is when he can merge with his soulmate, and become one again with his true spiritual self.

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