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Batman Begins and the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh both feature the story of a culture hero. In both of these works, the heroic quest of the culture hero is significant. Apart from having similar narratives, these two stories also have significant differences in themes. In The Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh becomes a hero for fame and immortality, while in Batman Begins; Bruce Wayne becomes a hero to avenge the deaths of his parents and at the same time protect the city of Gotham. These two characters also show a difference in the conflicts that they face as they fight against overwhelming circumstances. Gilgamesh is at odds with mortality, while Bruce is at odds with the corruption of human nature. One can say that Bruce is also concerned with mortality, since the death of his parents was the main reason for his doings. But instead of directly facing mortality, he attempts to strike the system that creates it. Therefore, it can be seen that both Gilgamesh and Bruce Wayne are heroes of some kind, because they both have heroic characteristics and because they posses bravery against overwhelming circumstances. Nevertheless, they are very different in the way they plan to fight against the simple threat of physical human and social decay.
The loss of a family or a friend is the driving force that causes both Bruce Wayne and Gilgamesh to set forth certain goals and start their heroic quest. When young Bruce witnessed his parents’ death, it changes him completely. Bruce says: “They told me there was nothing out there, nothing to fear. But the night my parents were murdered I caught a glimpse of something. I've looked for it ever since. I went around the world, searched in all the shadows. And there is something out there in the darkness, something terrifying, something that will not stop until it gets revenge...Me.” He tries to kill his parents’ murderer, but fails and decides to learn about the innermost works of a criminal mind, so he sets off on his own and joins the League of shadows to become a vigilante and fight for justice. Ra’s al Ghul becomes Bruce’s mentor in his hero’s journey and the one who teaches him all the fighting skills that helps him gain strength he needs to be Gotham’s hero. However, he shows some hesitation in that he isn’t ready to take responsibility as the role of Batman, a man who can strike fear into the hearts of criminals. Thus, Gotham’s criminals and corruption, which caused Bruce’s parents death is what leads him to act upon the conflict and avenge his parents’ death. Similarly to Bruce, in The Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh also loses a loved one. When Gilgamesh’s beloved friend, Enkidu, dies from an illness caused by the gods, Gilgamesh becomes afraid of death and decides to seek out Utnapishtim who would help him get immortality. Gilgamesh says: “Shall I die too? Am I not like Enkidu? Grief has entered my innermost being, I am afraid of Death, and so I roam open country. I shall take the road and go quickly to see Utnapishtim.” Just like Bruce receives help in his quest, Utnapishtim becomes Gilgamesh’s mentor who gives him all the procedures for achieving immortality. Thus, Enkidu’s death is what triggers him to set out on this journey to accomplish the secret of an eternal life.
Throughout the heroic quest, both characters undergo certain adventures and trials, as well as an encounter with a woman that serves as their temptress. After Gilgamesh returned from the battle against Humbaba, he encounters a woman named Ishtar who wishes to be wed to him. Ishtar is a goddess whom is known for dominating her lovers and at times kills them. For that reason, Gilgamesh rejects her knowing that her love is dangerous to him. At that moment, Gilgamesh is rejecting the woman as temptress and at the same time he is also rejecting the cycle of life where a generation gives rise to the next...
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