The Epic of Gilgamesh by Donna Rosenberg revealed the tale of the two-thirds god and one-third mortal king, Gilgamesh, whose biggest fear was the common fate of all human beings – death. Throughout his journey to find immortality, the story portrayed various examples of different categories of archetypes that influenced the passage, and added to the overall meaning of the text. The most important archetypes that impacted the plot of the story include Gilgamesh’s heroic characteristics, Enkidu’s death, and the idea of immortality.
The hero archetype is a very important example presented all through the story as it represents Gilgamesh’s heroic characteristics. The fact that “Gilgamesh was two-thirds god and one-third man… he was as willful and fearsome as a wild bull” proved that Gilgamesh had the major heroic qualities such as strength and power which enabled him to be the mighty king of the strong-walled city of Uruk (Rosenberg 175). Gilgamesh was constantly characterized by his strength and courage, just like the typical characteristics of a hero archetype.
His bravery, and the fearless hero he was helped influence his determination for his journeys throughout the passage. Gilgamesh said “with my own hands I shall kill Humbaba,” (Rosenberg 181) and “we shall slay the monster and banish all evil from the land! ” (Rosenberg 183) which explained that not only did he have courage and strength, he also cared about his people and wanted to protect them, like a real and genuine hero would.
Since Gilgamesh was prepared to sacrifice his own life for his own people’s protection, this adventure to fight Humbaba emphasized his strength and good heart. Based on the evidence given, Gilgamesh’s qualities played a decent role of the hero archetype. The unbreakable wound is a type of situational archetype that represents Enkidu’s death and its effects which really changed the pace of the story, and showed Gilgamesh that he will face the fate of death as long as he was mortal. Ever since Enkidu died, I have felt that he took my life with him on his journey to the House of Darkness and Dust” (Rosenberg 195).
Enkidu’s death stripped Gilgamesh of his innocence, and proved that Gilgamesh had the same tragic fate as Enkidu as long as he was mortal. Looking at the overall meaning of the text, this climax really changed the pace of the passage, and showed Gilgamesh’s vulnerability. “I must travel as quickly as my feet will take me to the home of Utanapishtim… he has found everlasting life” (Rosenberg 191).
Other than his loss of innocence, Enkidu’s death also caused Gilgamesh to gain willpower, and determination to go on his almost impossible journey to find the secret of avoiding death. Moreover, the quote explains how desperate he was to become immortal, since the idea of being able to live forever was the one last thing he needed as a man to be the mightiest, and everlasting king of Uruk. Overall, the unbreakable wound is one of the key archetypes which stands for Enkidu’s death and how it changed Gilgamesh, that really stressed the way that Gilgamesh felt about being mortal.
The magic weapon represents the idea of immortality, which is one of the most important symbolic archetype examples in the story of Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh explained that “we human beings are not as blessed as the heavenly gods, for we cannot live forever,” which demonstrates his jealousy towards the fact that only the gods had the gift of immortality (Rosenberg 182). Furthermore, this stresses Gilgamesh’s obsession with his wish to live an everlasting life, like the gods, as well as his struggle with being able to live as a mortal.
Gilgamesh states,”no human, not even a king, will be able to construct more impressive walls than I have built around our city of Uruk,” which explains that immortality can also be achieved through accomplishments and fame (Rosenberg 203). Gilgamesh’s pride through his lasting monuments such as the strong walls of Uruk showed how much he desired to be remembered through time, since it was the closest thing to immortality he can get. The magic weapon is a type of symbolic archetype that stands for the idea of immortality in the story of Gilgamesh.
Archetypes are the common patterns within works and mythology, and are important influences applied to Gilgamesh, and his journey. All through his journey to overcome his biggest fear, which was the inevitability of death, there were many archetypes that influenced and added to the overall meaning of the text. The Epic of Gilgamesh by Donna Rosenberg illustrates examples of archetypes such as Gilgamesh’s heroic qualities, Enkidu’s death, and idea of immortality