Anonymous Writing Styles in The Epic of Gilgamesh

Anonymous
This Study Guide consists of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Epic of Gilgamesh.
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Point of View

The point of view is third person. The story is told mostly from Gilgamesh’s viewpoint, with the final tablet being told through Utanapishtim’s point of view. Although the viewpoint is through Gilgamesh’s eyes, there is also a separate voice of an unnamed narrator who offers information that Gilgamesh might not have had access to in order to tell his story.

The point of view works well with this poem because the story is ultimately about Gilgamesh, the hero of the epic, therefore it should be told mostly from his point of view. In this way the reader is able to follow the story as it unfolds rather than hear about it later.

Language and Meaning

The original manuscript is written in cuneiform script, therefore the text has been translated multiple times since the first tablets were found. The scholars attempt to keep the language close to the original intent, but there are great differences in the languages that might have altered the original intent to some extent. To add to the problems with translation, many of the original tablets were damaged and broken, leaving great spaces of the poem missing. This also leads to possible errors as scholars use the available information and educated guesses to fill in the missing pieces.

The language of the poem is a little archaic in some places. However, through the many translations over the years, the poem has taken on a more modern sound that allows for modern readers to understand it without too much difficulty. Some of the references in the text are very old, perhaps using language that is unfamiliar or used differently than the modern reader might expect, but overall, the language is appropriate to the setting and characters.

Structure

The poem was originally written on eleven tablets. Some of the tablets are broken, therefore important pieces of some of the poem are missing. The poem is written in a linear time line in lyrical phrases that are designed to both tell a story and entertain the reader.

The poem contains one main plot and several subplots. The main plot follows the exploits of Gilgamesh as he first tries to prove himself superior to all other humans and later searches for immortality. One subplot follows the creation and life of Enkidu. Another subplot follows the actions of several gods who watch over Gilgamesh and his people. All the plots come to a satisfying conclusion at the end of the poem.

This section contains 416 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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