Gilgamesh Essay, Research Paper
Gilgamesh and Enkidu are both similar and different in many ways. Some of their traits affect each other throughout the course of the plot, whether it be their actions or their character. Gilgamesh, a king who is two-thirds god and one-third human, begins in the story as a very arrogant and tyrannic man. The gods gave him every reason to be when they endowed with a perfect body, wealth, power, and the ability to instill fear into his subjects. However, I would assume that the gods had hoped he would have been somewhat humble despite the gifts bestowed upon him, and rather, use them to enhance his role as a king. In an attempt to humble him, the gods create Enkidu.
Enkidu, a wild best of a man, seems to be primarily the personification of what is evil. He is in no way out to make acquaintances or make a name for himself. His sole purpose is to “absorb Gilgamesh’s energies.” He lives like a beast and has no contact with anyone. Finally the two fight, resulting in a victory to Gilgamesh. Enkidu becomes his faithful friend.
This fight and the formation of a friendship stand as the first effect upon each other’s character. I believe Enkidu gains a lot of respect for Gilgamesh and is much more humble at this point. Suggested by his actions later on in the story, Enkidu also has a new found sense of loyalty to something other than himself. As for Gilgamesh, other than a possible gratefulness for his new found friend, I think his character is left unaffected, or even worse, the exact opposite of what the gods had set out to do. In other words, it’s possible that he has become even more arrogant than before.
The battle of Humbaba also shows us some of the traits of the two. First of all, during the journey to Humbaba’s domain, Enkidu seems to show us a caring side along with his loyalty. He intends to prevent Gilgamesh from fighting for fear of his death. It is at this point where we really get a feeling for Gilgamesh’s courage and boldness. His expression of part of the “warrior-king” which can only result in a battle is testament to that. We can also see a continuation of his arrogance and self-centeredness. His intent for the battle is not to fight in the name of the people he stands for, but to further his own well being and make a name for himself.
Throughout the course of the battle, we gain insight into Gilgamesh’s vulnerability of which we had seen nothing of before. This is the first time we see Gilgamesh as a human. His is full of fear ad finally is forced to pray for help. In this section of the story, you really begin to notice a kind of dependency of Enkidy for Gilgamesh. He seems to really fit the profile of the classic sidekick. Enkidu is fearful and hesitant of event while Gilgamesh, his leader, is full-force ahead into any event.
In the confrontation with Humbaba, we recognize how Enkidu is much shrewder and less trusting than Gilgamesh. Humbaba begs for his life and offers everything he has in exchange for it. Gilgamesh seems to have pity upon him, however, Enkidu persuades him to be intolerable and kills him. Enkidu displays a kind of selfishness here that is very similar to that of Gilgamesh. He will hear of no other becoming allies with Gilgamesh. He is and always will be Gilgamesh’s only true companion. You kind of wonder whether or not, up to this point, Gilgamesh’s character has rubbed off on Enkidu.
The next two changes in character can be attributed to Enkidu’s dream as well as his death. Enkidu seems to become very humble again due to his dream and very rightfully so. His dream foreshadowed his own death. This affects Gilgamesh as well. He realizes one again that he is a human will die someday too. This is the greatest humbling effect upon Gilgamesh in the whole story. He begins to bring up questions about death and immortality. It seems as if Enkidu, through his death, has accomplished that which was the purpose of his creation. All in all, the story of this epic is heavily based upon the character of Gilgamesh and Enkidu and how their character affected one another through the friendship they had formed.