When with the gods, his kingdom and

When reading the
Epic of Gilgamesh, many people don’t realize the depth of the story. However, I
have come to realize that this novel is about much more than just two men going
on journeys and fighting; it is a story of self-realization, and the discovery
of the personality. Gilgamesh is in a constant battle with the gods, his kingdom
and most importantly, himself. For Gilgamesh, he is still unaware of his own
personality and I believe this is where Enkidu fits into the story.

            Firstly, let’s take a look at when
Enkidu is brought into the city. The people of the city are amazed that this
man has come to fight Gilgamesh, as Enkidu looks as mighty as Gilgamesh
himself.  As Gilgamesh comes to claim his
bride, he and Enkidu get into a fight, then immediately they make up and vow to
have an eternal friendship. They then set off for the Land of Cedars to fight
the horrific and giant Humbaba. On this journey, Gilgamesh says to Enkidu
“Here you are, even you, afraid of death,
/ What has become of your bravery’s might? / I will go before you, / You can call
out to me, “Go on, be not afraid!”. (II,
179-182) From this, we see that Gilgamesh is leading Enkidu on their journey to
fight the beast Humbaba. At this point in the story, Enkidu is trying to
persuade Gilgamesh to not go into the forest of cedars because it is too
dangerous, but Gilgamesh wants to make a name for himself.

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            As far as the relationship between Gilgamesh
and Enkidu, some may say it was rather sensual. Enkidu seems to be able to tame
Gilgamesh. He calms Gilgamesh’s catastrophic urges, making him less wild. Just
as Enkidu once lived more like animals than people, Gilgamesh himself is at
first a kind of animal, vicious and violent, before Enkidu comes along. After
befriending Enkidu, Gilgamesh turns his negative energies outward, no longer wanting
to live in and for the moment. Now he wants to accomplish great things, for his
fame as well as his city.

            Furthermore, when goddess Ishtar
falls in love with Gilgamesh he declines, and insults her. In return, she seeks
the gods for revenge. When the Bull of Heaven is sent to destroy Gilgamesh, he
alternatively kills the bull and cuts the heart out. From there the gods decide
one of the two men must die, so they cast a disease upon Enkidu and he dies. However,
when Enkidu dies it seems like Gilgamesh feels as if a part of him died as well,
for he says “Shall I not die too? Am I not like Enkidu?” (IX, 3) From this point on, it seems Gilgamesh becomes his own
comrade and picks up Enkidu’s characteristics.

            Next, Gilgamesh is determined to
find the key to immortality. He goes off into the wilderness alone and full of
sorrow. Finally, he decides to seek out Utnapishtim who survived a flood that
almost ended life on Earth, in hopes to find a way to escape death. Utnapishtim
explains to him that he cannot fight off death, but shows him how to find an
underwater plant that will restore youth. Gilgamesh dives down and gets the
plant, however he loses it to a snake on his way home. The snake then shed its
skin making it young again, but Gilgamesh will never be.

            Finally, Gilgamesh arrives back in
Uruk. He shows the boatman the great city walls. He shows him its brickwork,
fields, clay pits, and gardens. He shows him the temple of Ishtar. Gilgamesh
now realizes that the very city he built “are all the immortality he will ever
know”, says Kenneth Rexroth. Gilgamesh then dies, and the people of his city
bury him with many offerings and mourn the death of a hero.

            In addition to the death of
Gilgamesh, I interpreted it a little differently. I think that, on the return
back to his kingdom, Gilgamesh has won his wish of immortality, but in a
different sense. He found his self through the journey. By going on this
journey Gilgamesh builds his inner self and builds his personality in many
different ways. The challenges he encountered represented his unconscious
dreams and wishes, and he discovers his self through his unconscious
discoveries.