Gilgamesh and Enkidu: Character Building Plot
The creation of an intriguing plot must involve at least one major character whose own actions and external interactions dictate his or her development. External interactions between round characters, static characters, and environmental or supernatural activities, within the plot affect the decisions of the major character, providing the foundation for the story line to proceed. These decisions also mold the character’s thoughts, values and will, thereby, influencing future choices. Through this pattern of cause and effect, an author can sculpt a character in anyway he or she desires. This character building and story telling technique is nothing new in the history of literature, as it appears in the oldest written story known to man, Gilgamesh. In this classic epic, an unknown author employs these techniques to illustrate and develop the characteristics of the two major characters, Gilgamesh and Enkidu, in their march towards their destinies.
Gilgamesh exemplifies character development through the arrival and death of his best friend, Enkidu. At first, the people of Uruk describe their ruler Gilgamesh, with resentment of his actions. They complain “His arrogance has no bounds by day or night. No son is left with his father, for Gilgamesh takes them all…yet the king should be a shepherd to his people. His lust leaves no virgin to her lover, neither the warrior’s daughter nor the wife of the noble; yet this is the shepherd of the city, wise, comely, and resolute.” This causes the god of Uruk, Anu, to create Enkidu, a companion and diversion for Gilgamesh. Immediately after their friendship begins, Gilgamesh’s selfish characte...
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...ie like a man fallen in battle…happy is the man who falls in battle.” This quote sums up Enkidu’s total transformation from animal to human and his acquisition of heroic values, such as honor, through his friendship with Gilgamesh.
Throughout the epic novel of Gilgamesh, the cause and effect nature of the plot, affect the development of the major characters Gilgamesh and Enkidu. The character development, in turn, advances the plot towards its theme of fate. This vicious cycle repeats itself numerous times as the story and characters feed off each other. This remarkable ancient literary work displays one of the most clever and fascinating uses of character and plot development and serves as a guideline for modern writing.
Lawell, Sarah, ed. The Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces: The Western Tradition. vol.I. New York: Norton, 1999.
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