When reading the Epic of Gilgamesh,many people don’t realize the depth of the story.
However, I have come torealize that this novel is about much more than just two men going on journeysand fighting; it is a story of self-realization, and the finding of one’spersonality. Gilgamesh is in a constant battle with the gods, his city and especially,himself. For Gilgamesh, he is still unaware of his own personality and Ibelieve this is where Enkidu fits into the story. Firstly, let’s take a look at whenEnkidu is brought into the city. The people of the city are amazed that thisman has come to fight Gilgamesh, as Enkidu looks as mighty as Gilgameshhimself. As Gilgamesh comes to claim hisbride, he and Enkidu get into a fight, then immediately they make up and vow tohave an eternal friendship. They then set off for the Land of Cedars to fightthe horrific and giant Humbaba.
- Thesis Statement
- Structure and Outline
- Voice and Grammar
On this journey, Gilgamesh says to Enkidu”Here you are, even you, afraid of death,/ What has become of your bravery’s might? / I will go before you, / You cancall out to me, “Go on, be not afraid!”. (II,179-182) From this, we see that Gilgamesh is leading Enkidu on their journey tofight the beast Humbaba. At this point in the story, Enkidu is trying topersuade Gilgamesh to not go into the forest of cedars because it is toodangerous, but Gilgamesh wants to make a name for himself. As far as the relationship betweenGilgamesh and Enkidu, some may say it was rather sensual. Enkidu seems to beable to control Gilgamesh. He calms Gilgamesh’s catastrophic urges, making himless unruly.
Just as Enkidu once lived more like animals than people, Gilgameshhimself is at first a kind of animal, vicious and powerful, before Enkidu comesalong. After befriending Enkidu, Gilgamesh turns his negative energies outward,no longer wanting to live in and for the moment. Now he wants to achieve awe-inspiringthings, for his fame as well as his city. Furthermore, when goddess Ishtarfalls in love with Gilgamesh he declines, and insults her. In return, she seeksthe gods for revenge. When the Bull of Heaven is sent to destroy Gilgamesh, healternatively kills the bull and cuts the heart out.
From there the gods decideone of the two men must die, so they cast a disease upon Enkidu and he dies.However, when Enkidu dies it seems like Gilgamesh feels as if a part of himdied as well, for he says “Shall I not die too? Am I not like Enkidu?” (IX, 3) From this point on, it seemsGilgamesh becomes his own comrade and picks up Enkidu’s characteristics. Next, Gilgamesh is determined tofind the key to immortality. He goes off into the wilderness alone and full of desolation.Finally, he decides to seek out Utnapishtim who survived a flood that almostended life on Earth, in hopes to find a way to escape death. Utnapishtimexplains to him that he cannot fight off death, but shows him how to find anunderwater plant that will redevelop youth. Gilgamesh dives down and gets theplant, however he loses it to a snake on his way home. The snake then shed itsskin making it young again, but Gilgamesh will never be.
Finally, Gilgamesh arrives back inUruk. He shows the boatman the great city walls. He shows him its brickwork,fields, and gardens.
He shows him the temple of Ishtar. Gilgamesh now realizesthat the very city he built “are all the immortality he will ever know”, saysKenneth Rexroth. Gilgamesh then dies, and the people of his city bury him withmany offerings and mourn the death of a hero.
In addition to the death ofGilgamesh, I still believe that he found himself. When he sought out on thejourney after Enkidu passed, I think the experiences he was faced with helpedhim find himself. Now, Gilgamesh doesn’t necessarily want to be immortalbecause he has found himself and realizes who he is as a person, which is whathe has been searching for all along. With all things considered, I thinkthe psychology of Enkidu and Gilgamesh is shown very well in this story. Althoughthere are many ways to interpret it, I think maybe Enkidu could’ve been just apart of Gilgamesh’s imagination. I think that’s why Gilgamesh and Enkidu don’tget along at first because Gilgamesh hasn’t found himself yet and Enkidu helpshim do that when they go on the journeys and battle together.