The Gilgamesh Epic is among the earliest works in history and is categorized under epic poems. Originating from Mesopotamia, the poem consists of twelve tablets covering the relationship between the main character Gilgamesh and Enkidu who is his closest male companion. The narration is done in past tense trying to bring out the fact that the poem is Gilgamesh own wordings and he wrote it by himself. ‘The Epic of Gilgamesh” commemorates historical deeds and people as it breaks down Gilgamesh life experiences that were characterized by grief, heroism, and his wisdom in a universal and perpetual process. His story can be viewed to be both immediate and timeless. The scope of this paper however will be limited to the themes, ideas, characterization and arguments that are evident in tablet 1 of the poem (Andrew pg 45).
The characters used in the poem have played a major role in the development of the plot, themes, ideas and symbols. The main character is introduced as Gilgamesh and has been given a double and unstable compound role of being a man in some parts and a god in others. He is considered to be the greatest of all the men in the poem, and both his flaws and virtues are outsized. Gilgamesh is best known to most characters in the book as a being the most ambitious of al the builders and fiercest of all the warriors. These strong traits are not only brought out in the first table but in the rest of the poem. However, his characters change as the story unfolds in the rest of the tablets. He later turns around to his loyal subjects with forced labor, ceaseless battle and arbitrary power exercise (Andrew pg 78)
Enkidu on the other hand is presented by the narrator as a brawny and hairy ...
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... has utilized symbols as a means of representing abstract concepts and ideas. Religion has been symbolized by Gilgamesh as a character and events such as festivals, sacrifices, sex, dream, shamanic magic and dream interpretation. Enkidu is a hirsuteness symbol of the uncivilized and natural state. Images of portals, doorways and gateways have constantly recurred in Gilgamesh as a character. It was Enkidu who blocked the bribe’s chamber doorway and went ahead to wrestle Gilgamesh. The first tablet played a big role in introducing the plot of the story, the major characters, crucial themes, motifs and symbol leaving the reader with a clear idea of what to expect. However, it failed to introduce some of the characters that were later included in the plot development.
Andrew George. The Epic of Gilgamesh. New York: Penguin Classics, Rev Ed edition, 2003
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