Gender Roles in the Epic of Gilgamesh Essay

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The Epic of Gilgamesh is a story of Gilgamesh, a man who was two-thirds god that was saved by companionship. Gilgamesh was a cruel and careless king, who spent his time raping women, exhausting citizens, and conquering foes and foreign lands until he met, fought and was guided by his great friend and soul mate, Enkidu. With the help of Enkidu and his influence, he learned compassion as well as wisdom and integrity, and eventually Gilgamesh became a great and fair king. Though the story focuses mainly on Gilgamesh and his friendship with Enkidu, there are several roles played by women that help to make and move the story along. Without these important women who show great strength and feminine qualities despite being oppressed by the …show more content…
The others acknowledge Aruru for her great powers and responsibility, and then simply command her to perform a task. “You, Aruru, created the boundless human race, now create what Anu commanded” (The Epic of Gilgamesh 101). She is expected to, and never asked to; create life on command, just to make others happy, as if it were her only purpose. This could be a parallel to how men view women: solely as baby makers. Regardless, Aruru does as she is told and creates Enkidu from clay. It is implied that women are only good at a certain job, making it seem as if their ability to procreate is all that matters. This kind of belief also shows that women were mostly seen as sex machines for men, for their use and convenience. Women were viewed as replaceable; their jobs were to be mothers, wives, or harlots. Women were controlled, and those who were unable to be controlled were deemed as dangerous. Throughout The Epic of Gilgamesh, women treated the men like gods. When Shamhat was sent to seduce and recover Enkidu, she did so without any struggle or fight. After she had successfully turned him from his animal ways by spending six days and seven nights laying with him, she praised him. “You are so handsome, Enkidu, you are become like a god” (The Epic of Gilgamesh 107), She then uses her own clothing to dress him before leading him to food and shelter. Because she saw him as a god, she sacrifices her own clothing to clothe
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