The Epic of Gilgamesh

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What Meets The Eye

In today’s day and age, literature and media have ample effect on how our society influences individuals. Women are perceived as sexual objects, but have the ability to persuade and influence the male character in literature. The Epic of Gilgamesh portrays the significance ancient Mesopotamian Literature has made on the social image that women possess pertaining to sexuality and appearances to the public eye in modern culture. In Gilgamesh, the harlot Shamhat held a reputation proving that women are only represented in one way. To support this argument, many aspects such as defining the “Male Gaze,” heroism, and how women influence the main character, all prove how poorly women are portrayed in literature and furthermore in modern media and culture. The Epic of Gilgamesh focuses mainly on the two male protagonists Enkidu and Gilgamesh. Shamhat was later introduced into the story as a temple-prostitute that had the reputation of taming wild beasts (Martin 103). She domesticates Enkidu into the ways of humankind using seduction, but as the story continues, it shows how truly important Shamhat’s position is in the epic. Shamhat, in her role, is a generous force that brings knowledge and progress to a strong hero preparing him for the many tribulations ahead. One of the aspects we fail to recognize in Mesopotamian literature, let alone all literature of the world, is the heroic roles of women. In “Women in the African Epic,” Joseph L. Mbele states,

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