Optional Paper #1 on The Epic of Gilgamesh and Monkey
During the term you have to write only one paper (or take the midterm), and this is the first of three options. You can choose any one of these topics below for your first paper.
Make sure you have a clear and coherent thesis and a well developed introduction. Make a clear outline for the body of the paper. Give examples, including several quotations, from the books. At the end, list your works cited, especially if you are using different editions.
Length: 1,000-1,250 words, MLA Guidelines (use in-text citations and Works Cited at the end.)
Deadline: 10/05/18, Thurs. Hard copies only.
If you want help with a thesis etc., make a conference appointment. You will be allowed to revise this paper one time if you save the original hard copy with
my comments and staple that to the revision.
Important: don’t try to answer every part of a topic. Focus on the one or two ideas that you can really work with well. The ideas here are just meant to help you get started.
1. Compare the goodness of the hero of the epic genre of Gilg am e s h with the goodness of the hero of the novel genre of Mo n ke y . What makes the way the hero appears or becomes good or better distinct? Or what saves the main character from being bad?
Advice: pick one theme or a pair of scenes to compare in the works. For example, how good does each hero appear to be on his quest for immortality? Why is it a very serious theme in the epic but a more lighthearted theme in the novel? Or, for another example, what saves Gilgamesh and Monkey from being bad characters, and how do they become better heroes? Or, for another example, how important are the supporting characters like Enkidu and Tripitaka as the heroes become better?
2. Compare the epic and the novel in terms of the themes of friendship, brotherhood or family. How do these works represent close bonds that bring people/beings/gods together? Could Gilgamesh be an important epic hero without the love of Enkidu? Could Gilgamesh be wise without counsel from his mother? Could Monkey become a hero without Tripitaka, the Bodhisattva Kuanyin, and the Buddha? How do Monkey, Pigsy and Sandy learn discipline, selflessness and other virtues?
3. What’s wrong with the epic and novel heroes, and what do they need to learn to become truly great? If they are both on a journey to wisdom, what is getting in each of their ways? Are they too selfish, too arrogant, too violent, too angry, or what?
4. Compare the female characters in the epic and the novel. What can you tell about the lives of women from these very different civiliations. Try to focus on characters who are actually active in the stories. For example, Ninsun, Shamhat and Ishtar are all crucial characters in
the epic. The Bodhisattva Kuan-yin is the most important female character in the novel, but there are many other minor characters who are women. What kinds of roles do females play in the novel?
5. In what ways are the kings Gilgamesh and Monkey like pilgrims on a spiritual journey? If one can grasp the meaning of life only through great struggles, endurance, much suffering, and the life-long pursuit of learning, in what ways do Gilgamesh and Monkey learn what life really means. When do you see them really learn something important?
6. Compare the heroes as kings. Monkey as a king of the monkeys has some things in common with Gilgamesh as a king, e.g. a desire for immortality. When they are good kings, what virtues do they show? Is one of them better than the other? When they are not good kings, what failings do they share? Who has the greatest flaws as a king?
7. You can write about the story of the ark in Gilg am e s h and compare it with the story of the ark in Genesis. You have to use a standard version of Genesis. How is Utanapishti like Noah? What are the differences in the stories of these heroes and the floods? You may also want to look at outside articles and incorporate these because there has been recent research that is quite illuminating about these themes. See e.g. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/10574119/Noahs-Ark-the-facts-behind-the- Flood.html
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