Archetypal Heroes

Topics: Hero, Epic poetry, Epic of Gilgamesh Pages: 3 (1211 words) Published: August 18, 2010
The hero is not dead, but merely taken on a different form to suit the changing world. As society develops with the invariable updating of technology and varying of society’s values a hero needs to be constantly updating and changing its attitudes and values to stay relevant in modern day society. Through the close analysis of two texts, namely the 1998 Walt Disney film “Mulan” and the ancient text “The Epic of Gilgamesh” we can see how the hero is very much alive today but has radically changed forms to suit the present day. Through changes in society’s view on women and the perfect expectations put on heroes in the past we can see many changes in heroes so that they conform to modern day society.

“The Epic of Gilgamesh” is an epic poem from Babylonia and is among the earliest known literary works. Gilgamesh, The main character of the story is a great king and encompasses all the attributes of an archetypal hero. Joseph Campbell in the hero with a thousand faces states that “The greatest tale of the elixir quest… is that of Gilgamesh”. But the goals of Gilgamesh’s heroic journey are different of those in modern day society. Gilgamesh Searches for Glory and immortality which are seen to be almost impossible rewards for modern day Heroes. For example in the 2008 movie “I am legend” The main character played by Will Smith does not end the film with immortality and glory but quite the opposite. The character ends up giving up his own life for the sake of human kind. The character still encompasses all the values of an archetypal hero. This shows the changes in a modern hero.

The themes that Gilgamesh covers throughout the story such Love as the motivating and The Gods are Dangerous force show the datedness of the text. The drive that Gilgamesh has to complete his missions is based on the love of his best friend Enkidu. He undergoes the quest of immortality because he of his love for Enkidu, when he sees him die he cannot bear to experience such pain and...
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