The Transformation of Gilgamesh in the Epic of Gilgamesh

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The Transformation of Gilgamesh in the Epic of Gilgamesh In many literary works we see significant transitions in the hero's character as the story is developed. This is also true in the Epic of Gilgamesh with its hero, Gilgamesh. In this narrative poem, we get glimpses of who Gilgamesh is and what his purposes and goals are. We see Gilgamesh act in many different ways -- as an overbearing ruler resented by his people, a courageous and strong fighter, a deflated, depressed man, and finally as a man who seems content with what he's accomplished. Through all of these transitions, we see Gilgamesh's attitude toward life change. The goals he has for his own life alter dramatically, and it is in these goals that we see Gilgamesh's transition from being a shallow, ruthless ruler to being an introspective, content man. The epic begins with the men of Uruk describing Gilgamesh as an overly aggressive ruler. "'Gilgamesh leaves no son to his father; day and night his outrageousness continues unrestrained; And he is the shepherd of Uruk, the enclosure; He is their shepherd, and yet he oppresses them. Strong, handsome, and wise. . . Gilgamesh leaves no virgin to her lover.'"(p.18, Line 23-27) The citizens respect him, but they resent his sexual and physical aggression, so they plead to the gods to alleviate some of their burden. The gods resolve to create an equal for Gilgamesh to tame him and keep him in line. This equal, Enkidu, has an immediate impact on Gilgamesh. When they first meet, both having never before met a man equal in stature, they brawl. "They grappled with each other, Snorting like bulls; They shattered the doorpost, that the wall shook."(p.32, lines 15-18) In giving Gilgamesh a real battle, Enkidu instantly changes him; having this equal gives Gilgamesh a sense of respect for another man. These two men fighting each other creates a serious mess, but they both end up without animosity toward the other. The next time we see them, their friendship is concrete. "They kissed one another, And formed a friendship."(p.33, line 19-20) Gilgamesh seems to be the leader at the start of their relationship, and right away, he plans an adventure for them. "In the forest dwells the terrible Huwawa. Let us, me and thee, kill him, And let us destroy all the evil in the land."(p. 34, line 96-98) Here, Gilgamesh reveals one reason that he wants to kill Huwawa - to destroy the evil in the land.

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