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The Changing Hero: The Epic of Gilgamesh Essay

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There are many stories about heroes that change from a bad guy to the good guy. In the ancient story, The Epic of Gilgamesh, details are given to reflect how a hero transforms from a static to dramatic character. The hero of the epic, better known as Gilgamesh, undergoes many experiences as he embarks on a long journey to discover what his purpose is in life. Throughout his adventure, Gilgamesh establishes a friendly relationship with a man named Enkidu; in addition to that, he also makes contact with deities that either supported or threatened him. As these events took place, Gilgamesh was experiencing some major changes to his personality. These events are better known as external factors, and they all had an effect on Gilgamesh in some way. The altering of Gilgamesh’s behavior shows how a hero changes dramatically by external factors, which is a common theme throughout the epic.
Being a bad influence on society is not a good habit learn, especially for Gilgamesh. At the beginning of The Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh is detailed as the “Lord of Uruk” (Sandars, 62). Commonly you would think the lord would be a respectful person, but for Gilgamesh it was the opposite. The people of Uruk saw their lord as unfair, and all they could think about was “his arrogance” (Sandars, 62). The story describes Gilgamesh as arrogant due to his behavior to not share. An indication of his arrogance is when he desires to keep all “the sons of each father to himself,” and moreover, “even the children” are taken by Gilgamesh (Sandars, 62). His arrogance is also shown when he has a lust for all the women in Uruk. To overcome that, he took the virginity of all the women in Uruk. Gilgamesh clearly left “no virgin to her lover, neither the warrior’s daug...


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...ble for this type of influence is the journey itself. An indication that the outside world can have a large impact in altering one’s behavior pattern. Gilgamesh not only shows the signs of courage with the Scorpions, but also with Urshanabi. Urshanabi is the “ferryman of Utnapishtim the Faraway,” which makes him similar to a travel companion (Sandars, 103). When Gilgamesh meets face to face with Urshanabi, he tells him “I will cross the waters of death; if not I will wander still farther into the wilderness (Sandars, 104). Even though Gilgamesh is “afraid of death,” he is still brave enough to risk his life to acquire his goal. From a man full of fear to a man with bravery and confidence, the hero reflects how dramatically he can change throughout the quest.



Works Cited

Sandars, N.K. The Epic of Gilgamesh. Revised Ed. England, U.K.: Penguin Classics, 1972. Print.


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