Jun 7, 2013
by: Kendrick

No matter how intriguing and unusual the ancient epic of Gilgamesh may seem at first, it is actually the archetypal tale. The journey of Gilgamesh, is able to draw the interests of many, and the relations to books in general is grand. When the epic begins, Gilgamesh establishes for himself a quest, which is an aspect of“the basic plot”. Later on, Gilgamesh’s adventures lead him to a brawl with the monster named Humbaba (another factor of “the basic plot”), creating a segway to Gilgamesh’s enormous change in personality afterwards. These areas of the story are the most exhilarating and eye catching, with a one of a kind story line, but are also parts which make Gilgamesh the archetypal tale.
Even before the epic of Gilgamesh is told, it is duly noted, Gilgamesh contains multiple archetypal heroic traits. Gilgamesh is a marvelous example of how stories contain multiple similarities, yet greatly differ. The plot is created from manly, the need for questing, the concern to prove himself worthy of fame, an above average being ( two-thirds divine), and many others. The certain combination of the aspects generates an original character, who is the leader of a grand journey. But, the traits are pieced together from bits of “the basic plot”, (which is, a quest, tragedy, slaying the monster, a voyage and return, and a rebirth) in order to create the innovating tale.
Within the climax of Gilgamesh’s lengthy journey, he experienced a traumatizing event which stayed with him throughout, eventually causing a major change of character. Gilgamesh’s lost of his true friend is the climax, as it generates the greatest impact upon him, turning the brave hero, into a wallowing child. The loss is special, for only Gilgamesh can loss the specific person, but there are others who lose loved ones too. The scene is nothing compared to what he has done though. Gilgamesh experienced the glory of beheading Humbaba, denying Ishtar of his love, and even winning a battle against the bull of heaven. These scenes are parts of “the basic plot”. The change occurs within a wide spectrum of other novels, giving it a method to catch a reader’s interests. But one event is never the same as another. For example, his pride and arrogance dissipated during the events, as he shared the fame with Enkidu. Which is similar to Harry Potter, where Harry wins the quidditch cup, but shares the glory with his team. One could say Gilgamesh’s special weapon would be his ability to learn, not give up hope, and to persist. Shamash knocking down Humbaba with his winds, and being Gilgamesh’s idle, it is considered as unnatural help. The details allow one feel closer to Gilgamesh, yet identifies the story as an archetypal tale, for it follows a certain formatting.
Near the end of Gilgamesh’s magnificent journey, a microscopic controversy appears. Some may argue Gilgamesh is a unique epic, and others would persuade, Gilgamesh’s journey is not. Both sides are correct to a certain extent, but the answer lies within perspective. Gilgamesh goes through events which never happens to anyone except him (examples as: holding horns of lapis lazuli, sending a trapper to lure Enkidu, wrestling and kissing his true friend, etc). But the events follow Carl Jung’s and Joseph Campbell’s concepts of archetypes, by containing an unusual birth, supernatural help, proof of worthiness, and the other aspects.
In the end, the uniqueness of his story is great, and only what has happened will occur to Gilgamesh. No other character would experience a cave which closes upon him at the fall of the sun (Gilgamesh’s attempt to find eternal life after Enkidu’s downfall), but it archetypal, for the scene resembles a journey with an unhealable wound . Even so, the epic is rounded by the definitions of Carl Jung’s and Joseph Campbell’s archetypes. Gilgamesh is the archetypal tale, for throughout the entire journey, it follows “the basic plot”, not scene for scene, but there are aspects of it within the story.