Textual analysis example essay: Analysis of epic of Gilgamesh





Analysis of epic of Gilgamesh

The Epic of Gilgamesh is among the oldest literature writings. Its setting is in Mesopotamia, which was an ancient nation renown for early civilization. The author mentions “people of Uruk” in the epic a lot. For instance, “But the people of Uruk cried out to heaven… (Mitchell 3)” Uruk was an ancient city in Mesopotamia. Readers expect to be amused by exemplarily old styles of writing. The knowledge of Gilgamesh’s setting is significant as it briefs readers on the themes to expect. For instance, one would expect the narration to be men dominated and have minimum mention of female characters. 

Textual analysis example essay: analysis of epic of Gilgamesh
The epic of Gilgamesh

The main characters in the epic are Gilgamesh and Enkidu. Gilgamesh was human but partially godly. He was powerful, surpassed all kings, an unvanquished leader, and loved by his soldiers (Mitchell 3). Gilgamesh used his superiority to oppress people and force them into free labor. He also took and abused any women in his kingdom that he yearned. Owning to his leadership, Uruk residents cried to the gods to create another hero and help restore balance. Enkidu was of the same caliber as Gilgamesh. Initially, Enkidu lived with the animals and was more like an animal. However, a harlot taught him how to be a man, and he was accepted into society. With the emergence of Enkidu, Gilgamesh transformed from a tyrant to a lovable leader. Gilgamesh is meant to show that no human being is powerful enough to evade death.

Gilgamesh and Enkidu became close allies and were adventurous. The team reaped much success together until when goddess Ishtar desired Gilgamesh, and he turned her down. The goddess did not take this lightly, and she retaliated by asking her father to send the Bull of Heaven to Uruk. “But if I give you the Bull of Heaven, Uruk will have famine for seven long years (Mitchell 25).” Gilgamesh and Enkidu fought the bull and killed it. After this transgression, the gods cast a terminal disease on Enkidu. The death of Enkidu adversely affected Gilgamesh, and he sought to find immortality. Although the king of Uruk was not successful, he learns that although death is inevitable, humanity will continue. 

Gilgamesh is narrated from a third-person perspective. The narrator is all-knowing. For instance, when Ishtar goes to her father to lament, the narrator reports their conversation. “Father, Gilgamesh slandered me (Mitchell 25)!” And the father replied, “But might you not have provoked this (Mitchell 25)?” Here the narrator is quoting what each character said. The style of narration used in the poem assures the reader that the text is not bias or opinionated. 

What are the major themes of the epic of Gilgamesh

The main themes in Gilgamesh are love and the inevitability of death. The love present in the text is platonic and erotic. Erotic love convinced Enkidu to learn the ways of a man. “Deep in his heart, he felt something stir… Enkidu said, “I will go, Shamhat. Take me with you… (Mitchell 6)” Platonic love is evident from the relationship between Gilgamesh and Enkidu. The two were real friends, and they had a strong emotional tie. Although Enkidu was powerful, he died. The passing of his friend saddened Gilgamesh, and he tried to be immortal. He journeyed miles away, but his efforts were futile. 

The effort of Gilgamesh to find a cure for death is symbolic. It symbolized that although one might be all-powerful, death will remain inevitable. The Bull of Heaven is also an exhibition of symbolism. Bulls are usually masculine and aggressive. Therefore, the Bull of Heaven symbolizes the power and aggression of the gods.

Works Cited

Mitchell, Stephen. Gilgamesh. Profile Books, 2014. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,shib&db=nlebk&AN=1369210&site=ehost-live

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