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The Epic of Gilgamesh Themes & Motifs

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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.
This section contains 412 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)

Themes and Motifs

Friendship

Before he ever meets Enkidu, Gilgamesh has dreams about him. When Gilgamesh tells his mother about these dreams, she suggests that Gilgamesh is meant to be friends with Enkidu. Gilgamesh is excited about this idea because he does not have many friends since he is stronger and does everything better than everyone else. However, the first time Gilgamesh and Enkidu meet, they fight.

Enkidu admires Gilgamesh for his fighting ability and quickly becomes his friend. The two go on an adventure together, growing closer as they journey and fight side by side. It is a friendship that inspires both men to be better and it distracts Gilgamesh from having to prove himself to everyone else. This friendship propels the plot of the poem by motivating the main character over and over again.

Death

When Enkidu dies, Gilgamesh finds himself obsessed with the idea of his own mortality. Gilgamesh does not want to die, so he goes in search of his ancestor Utanapishtim. He wants to find out how he can become immortal. All along the way, Gilgamesh is told over and over again that mortality is something humans just have to accept, and the trick is to learn to enjoy every moment of life. This is not good enough for Gilgamesh.

When Gilgamesh finally finds Utanapishtim, he challenged to prove that he is strong enough to be immortal. This is one of the first tests that Gilgamesh fails. Gilgamesh cannot stay awake for six days and seven nights, but instead sleeps for that amount of time. This leaves Gilgamesh unworthy of immortality. Instead, Gilgamesh is given a plant that will restore his youth, giving him more years to live. This makes Gilgamesh happy, until he loses the plant.

Wrath of Gods

The gods are a vengeful people. When they see what Gilgamesh and Enkidu are doing in killing all their creatures, they decide that one of them must die for their crimes. They choose Enkidu. Gilgamesh tries to assure Enkidu that the gods would not do such a thing, but within a few weeks, Enkidu is dead.

Gilgamesh later learns there are other times in which the gods were vengeful as well. Enlil, the god of storms, flooded the earth many years before to rid it of unpleasant humans. This left the world purified, but it also created immortals of Utanapishtim and his wife when Enlil found himself in a position to prove he was not completely vengeful.

This section contains 412 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
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The Epic of Gilgamesh from BookRags. (c) 2013 BookRags, Inc. All rights reserved.
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