Archetypes

Topics: Adam and Eve, Garden of Eden, Epic of Gilgamesh Pages: 3 (973 words) Published: October 3, 2013

Why do people associate death and the color black? Why do people consider a woman as a man’s subordinate? Why is it that literature from thousands of years ago has similar plot structures and themes of modern literature? These recurring ideologies are not pure coincidences; they have symbolic meaning and have been traced to the depths of unconsciousness, having been recently categorized into archetypes. Archetypes are a development of psychologist, Carl Jung, referring to a pattern of character types, images, descriptive details, and situations that find their way from our minds, to our literature, and to our lives. This idea of predisposed mental associations is evidenced through literature from various cultures and times. Even literature as diverse as The Epic of Gilgamesh, Genesis’ Creation and Fall, and Beauty and the Beast share similar significance within the situational archetype of “The Fall.” These three works have been developed from different cultural perspectives and timeframes, but yield a comparable plot pattern, in which the hero falls to a lower level from a relative heaven because of a transgression. The presence of this archetype furthers the effectiveness of the pieces. The oldest known piece of literature, The Epic of Gilgamesh, derived from the Sumerian culture and was adapted into the Standard Version, written around 1200 BCE. In the story, Gilgamesh, the epic hero, two thirds god and one third man, falls from his arrogant kingship to a psychological state of desperation after his closest friend, Enkidu, dies. As stated in the Prologue, “This is the man to whom all things were known; this was the king who knew the countries of the world. He was wise; he saw mysteries and knew secret things.” Coming across as unstoppable, Gilgamesh journeys with Enkidu and together they conquer Humbaba, the monster of the forest, and the Bull of Heaven. Following their feats, however, Enkidu becomes ill and dies. Gilgamesh grieves extensively to...
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