Gender Roles in the Epic of Gilgamesh Essay

Gender Roles in the Epic of Gilgamesh Essay

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Gender Roles in the Epic of Gilgamesh

In the Epic of Gilgamesh, gender plays a very significant role. While women were not the most powerful gods nor the strongest or wisest of humans, they still had tremendous influence. Though the main characters of the story, Gilgamesh and Enkidu, are male, women did not play a necessarily minor role. With all the women that play a role in the Epic of Gilgamesh, gender is a topic worthy of discussion.

The obvious role of men in the Epic of Gilgamesh is that of the position of power. Anu, a male, is the most powerful God. Furthermore, not only is Gilgamesh the king of Uruk, but he is also two-thirds divine, which gives him unparalleled power, at least in the human world. This is evident in the way he rules. "By day and by night his tyranny grows harsher... lets no daughter go free to her mother... lets no girl go free to her bridegroom." (George, I, 69-75).

Women, on the other hand, play many more roles than men in this classic. Take Ninsun, the mother of Gilgamesh, for example. She plays the role of the loving, caring mother and also that of the wise counselor that provides guidance. From the very beginning of the book, Gilgamesh seeks guidance from his mother. When he has two dreams about an axe and a meteor, full of concern, he seeks the advice of his mother. At this point, she plays the role of the guiding, comforting mother by analyzing his dreams and relating the two objects to something good, Enkidu, that will soon come into Gilgamesh's life. "My son, the axe you saw is a friend...and I, Ninsun, I shall make him your equal. A mighty comrade will come to you, and be his friend's saviour..." (George, I, 288-291).

After Enkidu and Gilgamesh become the best of fr...


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... friend and brother, must die for this act. Clearly, Ishtar's role in the Epic of Gilgamesh was a very powerful one in which she manipulated both men and gods to get what she wanted, in one way or another.

It can easily be seen that while men were considered to be the most powerful and wisest humans and gods, women had the power to significantly influence these men. From Uta-napishti's wife who convinced Uta-napishti to tell Gilgamesh about the plant that would make him young again to the examples mentioned above, several women were put in roles that had important effects on the men they encountered. Of course, this is not much different from the society we live in today. While many may believe that women have still not reached the point of true equality, it is hard to say that they are inferior and the significance of their roles in society is undeniable.

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Gender Roles in the Epic of Gilgamesh Essay

- Gender Roles in the Epic of Gilgamesh In the Epic of Gilgamesh, gender plays a very significant role. While women were not the most powerful gods nor the strongest or wisest of humans, they still had tremendous influence. Though the main characters of the story, Gilgamesh and Enkidu, are male, women did not play a necessarily minor role. With all the women that play a role in the Epic of Gilgamesh, gender is a topic worthy of discussion. The obvious role of men in the Epic of Gilgamesh is that of the position of power....   [tags: World Literature]

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