The Road of Trials in Literature Essay

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In Joseph Campbell’s book, A Hero with a Thousand Faces, the author details a journey he claims that every human must travel.. There are numerous stages in the journey, but one of the biggest stages is the Road of Trials. When the hero reaches the Road, he or she must leave his or her home and complete a series of hurdles and adventures alone. During the journey the hero finds confidence and self assurance. The Road of Trials is essential for the hero’s growth as a person. There are many examples of the Road of Trials in literature, including the epic poem, Gilgamesh, and the alliterative poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Both characters in these stories leave their homeland and go on a journey to find themselves and understand where they stand in the world.
Before his journey, Gilgamesh, who is half god and half human, does whatever he wants. He sees himself as a god and he acts like one until he meets a man by the name of Enkidu. Enkidu is half man and half animal. As their friendship grows, the two become very close and Gilgamesh begins to act more in line with the human side of himself, as does Enkidu. Gilgamesh’s life comes to an abrupt halt when Enkidu dies. Gilgamesh, who has never felt a loss so dearly before, is determined to bring Enkidu back to life, so he leaves his hometown on a to journey to find the god Utnapishtim. This is where his Road of Trials begins. While wandering in the desert looking for Utnapishtim, Gilgamesh figures out that, “His life became a quest/To find the secret of eternal life/ Which he might carry back to give to his friend” (Mason, 55). For the first time in his life Gilgamesh thinks of someone else before himself. He had always been drawn to the side of himself that is half god but...

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...e back, so how do loved ones keep the deceased in their memory? It is natural to struggle, but with every struggle comes a reward, just as with death comes resurrection. If there were not struggles in life, no one would be resurrected and allowed to grow and to learn. The Road of Trials experiences teach valuable lessons. The Road is not easy, but rather a long and difficult fight. Eventually the hero will return victorious, just as with loss comes restoration. There is no easy formula, but the journey is necessary if humans are to truly live, grow, and change.

Works Cited

Borroff, Marie. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. A New Verse Translation. New York: Norton, 1967. Print.
Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1972. Print.
Mason, Herbert. Gilgamesh: a Verse Narrative. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1971. Print.

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