The Epic of gilgamesh
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From The Epic of Gilgamesh (Translated by Andrew George) book.
Write an analytical and interpretive essay of about 800 words or three typed, double-spaced pages. Do not forget to quote from the text and include a works cited entry!
Consider The Epic of Gilgamesh in terms of characterization. Both the title character and Enkidu are “round” characters, that is, characters whose characterization changes or evolves as the text proceeds. At first, for instance, the text describes Gilgamesh as being guilty of tyranny: “By day and by night his tyranny grows harsher, / Gilgamesh, [the guide of the teeming people!]” (3). What kind of king is Gilgamesh at the end of the text? How does he come about his altered characterization? Enkidu, moreover, is initially described as beast-like: “Coated in hair like the god of the animals, / with the gazelles he grazes on grasses, / joining the throng with the game at the water-hole, / his heart delighting with the beasts in the water” (5). What changes occur in Enkidu, and how are those changes brought about?
In short, choose one of these characters and analyze his characterization at three different stages. In other words, analyze Gilgamesh’s characterization at the beginning of the text, in the middle of the text, and at the end of the text. Quote the text to support your reading of his characterization at each stage, making sure quotes have adequate context. (Do something similar for Enkidu if you choose to write on him.)
Do not summarize the story.
NOTE ON QUOTING FROM THE EPIC OF GILGAMESH:
As you will have noted, our chosen translation of Gilgamesh contains many bracketed, italicized and ellipted passages. When you quote from this text, you must maintain its original form in terms of brackets, italicization, etc. Consider the following example:
Gilgamesh explains to Enkidu why the two of them must accomplish a great deed: “As for man, [his days] are numbered, / whatever he may do, it is but wind, / …exists not for me……” (Gilgamesh19).
To avoid confusion, DO NOT insert ellipsis points of your own into this text. For quoting, choose passages that you can quote in full. Summarize longer passages. In short, do not alter quotes save for inserting slashes between lines of quoted poetic text, as highlighted above. This text is already missing a significant amount of material! For block quoting, see the handout mentioned below.
The Epic of Gilgamesh. Trans. Andrew George. London: Penguin, 2003.
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