Compare and Contrast Essay on Gilgamesh and Oedipus

Published: 2021-07-08
1377 words
6 pages
12 min to read
George Washington University
Type of paper: 
Argumentative essay
This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

One would often read about a hero in an epic. In most instances, there are two kinds of heroes including a tragic hero on the one hand and a quest hero on the other. A quest hero will embark on a mission to meet the set goals. A tragic hero has a defect that leads to his downfall. The two epics have similarities and differences. This paper makes a comparative analysis between Gilgamesh and Oedipus.

All men are different in the way they act, think and look. Despite this, every person borrows something from another. There is a significant difference between Oedipus and Gilgamesh. However, they have some similarities. Every one of them is brave in his way, and both have strengths and weaknesses. While one is a victim of fate, another is wholly responsible for his destiny. Oedipus has considered a tragic hero gave his imperfection (Morshead 3). He has fatal errors including his pride. A tragic hero in this regard is defined as an extraordinary man who makes a judgmental error and who pays for his faults. In other words, the tragic hero derives lessons from his mistakes of judgment and serves as an example to the rest as regards the impact when famous men fall from their position. Here, his main flaw is his ignorance regarding his identity. Also, no kind of foresight could help address his harmatia or tragic flaw.

Contrary to other tragic heroes, he has no responsibility for this mistake. He is feared by the audience. It is attributed to the fact that nothing he undertakes can alter the outcome of the tragedy. Oedipus is no doubt an excellent and remarkable king. Also, he is morally upright. However, as a tragic character, he has a fatal flaw which comes in the form of pride. Oedipus is not only proud, rather his arrogance is evident. He assumes a lot about his understanding and ability to control life. However, he is unable to control reality, fate, opportunities and time. Oedipus has poor judgment. He has a wrong perception of his situation. Though there can be a debate on whether the killing of a dangerous stranger is a crime, given his presumption regarding his powers, he went against the gods and his destiny. Based on his confidence as regards what he knows, he evades the evil fate, murders a man and marries a woman his mother's age.

His defiance of his fate would be considered a major crime. During his period, men were wrong in seeking to place more focus on human abilities and powers of action and determination of their lives. Those in this era can have a different assessment and understanding of Oedipus actions, however, in the past, it would be morally wrong to go against what fate has determined for anyone. It appears that he would have avoided his tragic destiny if had taken some steps. If Oedipus could have pledged never to kill anyone and to take a senior woman as a wife, he would have fared better. Based on a human context, it could be deduced that Oedipus met his fate because he chose to be blind to most of the situations. As a matter of fact, he is a tragic character given that he is humanly weak, morally right though affected by a fatal error. He is a unique character caught in between the moral dilemma of human life on one hand and reality on the other.

The life of Oedipus encompasses the dilemma of the human situation where such things can neither be avoided nor escaped. As a tragic character, Oedipus is considered a hero. It is due to his struggle. Also, he attracts pity due to his weakness in front of the forces of his destiny. Because of his tragedy, fear is instilled in the audience. Oedipus is the same problem as the people despite the fact that he was a great man. There is an irony in his fate. It is the fact that fate had achieved what it sought to achieve before Oedipus started believing it. His tragedy is that of the acknowledgment of his failure. Most important is that his tragedy is that of the human situation. The tale of Oedipus advises that one must try his best. In all this, it becomes impossible to overcome the investable.

Gilgamesh, on the other hand, was the king of Uruk. His story is recorded in what is currently referred to as the Epic of Gilgamesh (Foster et al. 5). It must be emphasized that epic describes a long poem regarding the life of a hero. In the same way as the current novels, the life history of an epic hero plays out against a broad cultural panorama. The situations faced by Gilgamesh are in line with those circumstances many epic heroes face. Gilgamesh is part divine in the sense that he mingles with gods and goddesses. Also, his story entails a chain of superhuman triumphs and discoveries. In the course of his adventures, he is on a mission to discover the secrets of immortality. The epic starts with acknowledge of his successes and the testament of proclaiming his deeds to the world. The city of Uruk is described with the burn brick walls and structure being praised as being of high excellence. It then becomes apparent that he is both god and man. It is an important fact and a pillar to all the concrete achievements and exploits to follow. They make him a hero. However, a major problem is the fact that his human heritage implies the need to face death and perish. There is a major theme here which holds that life in the absence of mortality would lack the meaning it provides.

A wild man is created by the gods. He is called Enkidu. The primary objective behind the creation of this man is to ensure that Gilgamesh is challenged out of his arrogance and angry reactions. Despite this, Gilgamesh and this man quickly become friends. In one mission to the Cedar forest, the two of them come face-to-face with an evil monster. Also, Gilgamesh and this man can bring down the bull of heaven that had been sent to them. As a result, Enkidu is struck down by the gods as punishment. His friend Gilgamesh is deeply saddened by his death. He learned about the nature of love from his friend. Moreover, he was able to know about the meaning of human death and loss. Even as Gilgamesh mourned the loss of his friend, he embarked on a mission for eternal life. During this journey, he ventures into the twelve leagues of darkness.

The darkness grew thicker following the culmination of five leagues. Also, there was no light. Gilgamesh was not able to see anything in front or behind him. He proceeds with his mission to meet the sole mortal granted immortality by the gods. He was referred to as Utnapishtim the Faraway. However, upon their meeting, Gilgamesh is informed that permanence does not exist. However, a secret herb of permanence is shown to him. However, immediately after getting the herb, it is stolen by a serpent. As he travels back to Uruk, Gilgamesh takes a break to have a bath in a well. It is where the herb is stolen by the serpent. Gilgamesh is compelled to go back home. He is also forced to accept his mortality. The tale of Gilgamesh is summed up as the kind where he was immortalized by making a significant contribution to his city by presenting himself to the final invention of the city. This invention came in the form of writing. By overcoming disappointment and sorrow and remaining attentive to the needs of his people, he achieved success and was considered a hero.

In conclusion, it is clear that Gilgamesh and Oedipus are heroes in their ways. They both embark on a mission to meet their goals. The ultimate goal is realized one's true self. Oedipus sought to discover his real identity while Gilgamesh was in search for eternal life. Both achieved their missions of finding their real identities.

Works Cited

Foster Benjamin., Frayne Douglas., & Beckam Gary. The Epic of Gilgamesh: A New

Translation, Analogues, Criticism. Norton, 2001.'

Morshead, E.D.A. Oedipus the King. Oxford University

Request Removal

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the website, please click below to request its removal: