The Archetypal Quest - Comparing "The Epic of Gilgamesh" to "The Wizard of Oz"

Topics: The Wizard of Oz, Land of Oz, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Pages: 5 (1927 words) Published: November 29, 2010
The Archetypal Quest
In almost every book you read, you will find that someone always has to go on some sort of journey or quest (Rice). If you examine each quest closely, you will notice that they are all very similar (Rice). When things are used repeatedly like that, they are said to have an archetypal pattern (Rice). The quest on which all these heroes go on is referred to as the archetypal quest (Rice). “The Wizard of Oz” focuses on a small-town girl living in Kansas. “The Epic of Gilgamesh” focuses on an arrogant king who rules the city of Uruk. The Wizard of Oz and The Epic of Gilgamesh were written 5000 years apart, but they both contain the elements that make them archetypal quests. One of the stages in the hero’s quest is when they are introduces into their ordinary world (Rice). At this stage, the character is shown living their everyday life in their hometown (Rice). There are two types of characters at this stage (Rice). One is a character who had some sort of special birth and is usually more powerful than others (Rice). The other character is an unlikely hero that has an unknown background and is raised by someone other than their birth parents (Rice). Gilgamesh from “The Epic of Gilgamesh” fits the first type of character. He is the king of Uruk and was created by the gods. The gods made him 2/3 god and 1/3 man. Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz” fits the second type of character. She lives on a farm in Kansas and is being raised by her aunt and uncle (The Wizard…). Dorothy and Gilgamesh both are living in their ordinary world, which fits the archetypal pattern. Near the beginning of the story the hero must begin his or her adventure (Rice). This can be referred to as the hero crossing the first threshold (Rice). The character leaves his or her world and enters a new world (Rice). The first threshold in “The Epic of Gilgamesh” is when Gilgamesh decides to fight Humbaba. It is at this point that he sets out on his journey to make himself more liked by his city. Dorothy crosses the first threshold when a tornado sweeps her house up and she lands in the Land of Oz. During this point, the adventure has started and there is no turning back (Rice). At some point in the story, the hero meets a mentor who is usually more superior than the hero and may have supernatural powers (Rice). This stage is sometimes referred to as the hero meets his mentor (Rice). During this stage, the mentor helps the hero either by aiding them in battle or giving them very useful advice (Rice). Gilgamesh meets Shamash, the sun god, who helps him defeat Humbaba. Shamash is considered a mentor because he is more powerful than Gilgamesh and aids him in battle. When Dorothy lands in Oz, she is greeted by the Good Witch of the North (The Wizard…). She explains everything to Dorothy including where she is and that she just killed the Wicked Witch of the East (The Wizard…). The Good Witch of the North is more powerful than Dorothy and is a big help throughout her quest. If it weren’t for the help of their mentors, the heroes probably wouldn’t make it through their quests (Rice). The hero usually has a specific reason for going on their adventure (Rice). This part of the quest can be classified as the call to adventure (Rice). The hero usually goes on their quest in order to gain a reward such as an elixir (Rice). Gilgamesh decides that he wants immortality when he sees his friend Enkidu die by the hands of the gods. Gilgamesh decides to travel to see Utnapishtim because Utnapishtim has gained immortality from the gods. Dorothy’s call to adventure is that she wants to get back home as soon as she can (The Wizard…). The people of Oz tell her that she will have to travel to Emerald City to see the Wizard because he is the only one that will be able to get her back home (The Wizard…). Now that the heroes have had their calls to adventure, they have a reason to complete their quest.

As the hero proceeds with their quest they are constantly being...
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