Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once declared, “It is impossible to suffer without making someone pay for it.” In other words, when one is suffering, the desire to reap revenge without consideration as to who is being harmed in the process is innate. This is a common theme within the poem The Epic of Gilgamesh, Euripides tragic play, Medea, and Shakespeare’s play, The Tragedy of Hamlet. Characterization is used in these three works to exemplify the revenge seeker’s disregard for anyone but themselves in order to take vengeance on those who committed an act against them.
In the epic poem The Epic of Gilgamesh, revenge is shown mainly through Gilgamesh’s encounter with Ishtar, Goddess of love and war. Gilgamesh, and his best friend, Enkidu, decide that in order to prove their strength they will kill the guardian of the forest, Humbaba. When they succeed in killing Humbaba and return to Uruk victorious, Ishtar, the goddess of love and war, is impressed by Gilgamesh’s feat and attempts to seduce him. He rejects her advances and insults her as he knows how she has lured men in the past only to murder them. Infuriated by Gilgamesh’s insults, Ishtar asks her father, Anu, the sky god, to send the Bull of Heaven to kill him. Anu warns Ishtar explaining, “If you insist on the Bull of Heaven from me, Let the widow of Uruk gather seven years of chaff, Let the farmer of Uruk raise seven years of hay” (Foster 64). She insists that she is aware of the repercussions of such an act, so Anu, on Ishtar’s behalf, sends the Bull of Heaven to Gilgamesh and Enkidu. Ishtar’s blatant need to even the score between she and Gilgamesh runs so deep that she completely disregards the citizens of Uruk that she is meant to protect a...
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...her brother in law, who killed her husband.
When one is the victim of hurt or betrayal, they will stop at nothing to avenge their pain. This is evidenced through the characterization of those in The Epic of Gilgamesh, Medea, and The Tragedy of Hamlet who experience such hurt or betrayal. When Gilgamesh insults Ishtar, she seeks revenge against him by sending the bull of heaven to kill him though she is warned that it will also harm the citizens she is supposed to care for. Analogous to Ishtar, Medea is also scorned by a man and resorts to murdering her own children to ensure that her husband, Jason will too suffer as she did. Lastly, when Hamlet is informed that his uncle Claudius murdered his father, he vows to avenge the murder by killing Claudius. When betrayed, each of these characters disregards the feelings of others so that they may obtain revenge and justice.
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