ENG 2205, World Literature 1
Paper Length: 6-8 pages, double-spaced, approximately 1800-2400 words
Format: MLA-style documentation
Due: 7.28.18—If you submit a draft before July 25th, you will receive back from me via
email a graded draft with comments—you may then revise for a full grade replacement
until the 28th. Drafts received between July 26th and July 28th will be graded without
comments and can be revised until the end of the day on the 28th again for a full grade
replacement. No papers or revisions accepted after the 29th except in cases of
emergencies, work/service requirements, and the like. Please contact me as needed about
For the paper in this class, you will create a close reading of three texts that explicates
and interprets both texts through a common theme. Your goal is not simply to show how
they differ; in a survey of World Literature, there are very few texts that are going to be
similar in style or language. Rather, the goal of this paper is to create an interpretive
argument about the works that is both unified and illuminating through careful study of a
theme that develops over the course of the works.
For example, one could look at role of leadership in The Illiad, Gilgamesh, and The Art of
War or the images of women and femininity in Metamorphoses, 1001 Nights, Tales of the
Genji, and Gilgamesh, or the role of imagination and stories in Don Quixote,
Metamorphoses, and The Thousand and One Nights. Please check with me regarding
your theme before you begin the paper.
Your goal in examining a theme is to: 1) Identify the theme and 2) Show how exploring
this theme allows the reader to gain a deeper understanding of the two works.
A thesis for this paper should show your familiarity with the works and that your
thoughts go beyond the surface and into the themes and issues raised by the works. No
matter your choice, you want to approach the work as if there is deeper meaning beyond
what is on the page.
Two external sources must be used in this paper, and these sources must be drawn from
the MLA International Bibliography, JSTOR, or Project MUSE databases, accessed
through the Troy Library here. From that link, scroll down to ‘Select a Database’ and go
into the MLA Bibliography, JSTOR, Project MUSE (check all for your research). There
will be more information forthcoming on doing literary research on the discussion
boards. DO NOT just go to the Internet and do a Google search; there are countless online papers on these works. Using them will generally be a detriment to your work as they
are generally awful papers and can lead you into a plagiarism case. Literary criticism is
not history—it may be historical, but the goal of this paper is to explicate the texts in
question, not examine their histories or the histories of the peoples and places that may
have existed in antiquity.
The argument should be entirely your own response to the ideas in play. In other words,
you do have to do research for this paper, but you will need to contribute ideas and
arguments BEYOND what we have covered in our classroom discussions and use the
outside sources to give background, add information/interpretations, or support your
The most important aspect of this paper will be the use of direct quotations from the
books. You MUST be sure to support your claims about the text with specific examples
from the book. A good rule of thumb is one quote or specific example per body
Double space your essay; include your name, the course number and section at the
top of the first page.
Avoid the use of the second person as it is conversational and too direct. Use the
first person to describe your own thoughts, but better to use the third person in
most of your analysis.
Do not focus on the writing process—your reader does not need to know why you
chose the topic or what you’re going to write about. Instead of telling your reader
what you are going to do, do it.
Write in the present tense unless specifically describing past events.
How it will be graded:
A failing paper, either a “D” or an “F,” will either be completely off-topic, so
short as to be negligible, and/or be so marred by mechanical errors that meaning
is lost. Further, the argument may not be grounded in a thesis or else lack
examples or explain why the examples given mean for the interpretation.
A “C” paper is one that manages to competently convey information to the
reader—each part has a logical organization with clear thesis statements, contains
coherent and complete sentences, appropriately answers the essay prompt, and
does not have so many mechanical flaws that legibility suffers.
A “B” paper has all the characteristics of a “C,” and in addition displays effective
insights into the essay prompt (possibly acknowledging multiple perspectives on
the issues, or making particularly good choices about what material to address),
has fewer mechanical flaws, and has an organizational scheme and general tone
appropriate to the material.
An “A” paper has all the characteristics of a “B,” and in addition displays few or
no mechanical flaws, pays attention to appropriateness of word choice and
shifting tonality through the essays, displays a command of pacing and sentence
variety appropriate to the varied content of the essays, and may display
particularly thoughtful insights, of contain stylistic devices which illuminate the
After you turn the paper in through the Assignment on Canvas, I will grade and return it
to you via email as a Word or OpenOffice file with a full set of comments (if submitted
before July 25th). I will make comments throughout the paper to offer guidance on how to
improve the paper and your writing in general. If you choose, you may revise the paper
once for a new grade—I am a big believer in revision, so I urge you to take advantage of
this option. You will have until the end of the term to re-submit the essay for a full
Theme; From Gilgamesh to The 1001 Nights to The Tale of Genji, it is evident that women have
been used as a tools by men to serve them and in some cases draws the men back. Women are
seen more of an object as compared to people who can make decisions on their own. The practice
is however undermining the presence and power of women in the society.
Working thesis; The three texts differ numerously in the usage of language and the setting.
However, the texts seem to have a similarity when addressing the issues regarding women. Both
men and Gods in the three texts are seen to control women and take advantage of them. In the
text Gilgamesh, women are given roles to bring down other men which shows how powerless
they are. They only operate under control. However, women seem to make things go how they
want them done despite the control they get from men.
Primary texts; Gilgamesh, The 1001 Nights and The Tale of Genji.
MacKinnon, A. (2018). The Epic of Gilgamesh. In Places of Encounter, Volume 1 (pp. 85-99).
The essay created a direct link between women and how they are used as objects. The women in
the story used their bodies as a tool to control the thought process of man. They are portrayed as
a lustful spirit which means they are in control of the men yet the men control them. In the
ancient times, the woman seems to be readily available to be with the men as it is evident today.
Harlot is sent to control and confuse Enkidu and turn him from the wild nature to a man. The
women are also seen as manipulative which is a character that runs throughout the text.
Marzolph, U. (2014). Grimm Nights: Reflections on the Connections Between the Grimms'
Household Tales and the 1001 Nights. Marvels & Tales: Journal of Fairy-Tale Studies, 28(1),
The article tries to bring out the power women have over men. For instance, we see Shahrazad as
an intellectual warrior tying to use her power as a woman to manipulate the king and get what
she wants. She uses her feminism ability to change things to her favor thought the king does not
recognize that. There are very minimal roles that women are given in the text and when they get
them they try to use them to their advantage. The text therefore will be helpful to define how
women are manipulative.
Hosoi, H., Yamagata, T., Ikarashi, Y., & Fujisawa, N. (2014). Visualization of Special Features
in “The Tale of Genji” by Text Mining and Correspondence Analysis with Clustering. Journal of
Flow Control, Measurement & Visualization, 2(01), 1.
The article tries to describe the places that women have in the society, their abilities, and
intelligence but still touches on how they are used as tools to serve men. The tale starts by
describing the young boy who was raised in a palace but later sent out. The boy, Gen starts
dating and marries a woman by the name Lady Aoi or Lady Hollyhock. Gen however starts
having affairs with other women despite Lady Hollyhick complaining. The image of women here
is seen as inferior and those who are less respected by men. They are seen as instruments to be
used and who are readily available as in the book Gilgamesh.
Gale, C. L. (2015). A Study Guide for The Epic of Gilgamesh. Gale, Cengage Learning.
The essay reveals that regardless of the way the tales refer to women as manipulative and servant
of the man, there is still hope for the ancient and also the present woman. The best example
comes from the Epic of Gilgamesh where Ninsun brings a better feeling of advice and light to
the family and community at large. The image of the woman is not lost regardless of the
numerous negative issues that happens to them. The text helps in redefining the need for a
woman in the world.
Absolute power can endanger or safeguard the greater good. In the Epic of Gilgamesh
and The Iliad, Gilgamesh and Achilles demonstrate unrivaled strength and courage, but a thirst
for absolute power exposes their deep seated flaws of arrogance and pride. These heroic flaws
usher in humbling repercussions and great demise for their fellow man. On the other hand, in the
Hebrew Bible, Noah and Job demonstrate an unlikely strength and courage through Divine
intervention. As their characters are tested, they succeed by faith, imparted wisdom and
provision from Heaven. Unlike Gilgamesh and Achilles, who defied the gods of their world,
Noah and Job remained humble to the will and absolute power of God Almighty. These heroes’
thirst for righteousness triumphs the adversary, ultimately providing a safe haven and blessings
for their fellow man.
The main characters in Epic of Gilgamesh and The Iliad grapple with the real and intense
issues of humanity like pride, arrogance and poor judgment. Gilgamesh is the warrior king of
Uruk. He was created two-thirds god and one-third man by the gods. Because he was created
one-third man, Gilgamesh and Achilles share a common thread of humanity. Although
Gilgamesh is not fully a god, he is still feared by those around him. In fact, the Epic reads,
“Who is there can rival his kingly standing, and say like Gilgamesh, ‘It is I am the king?’
(Puchner)” The Epic reveals that “the Lady of the Gods drew his form of his figure, while his
build was perfected by divine Nidimmud (Puchner).” His unrivaled position as a king whose
body is perfect in form and build is what leads Gilgamesh to become consumed with the notion
that there is no one like him or greater than him in all of the land. Therefore, the thorns of
humanity, like his pride and arrogance, set in and lead his thoughts and decision making.
Achilles is a man who has a cherished relationship with the gods. In fact, his mother is a
Goddess. Though he is a mortal man, he is considered the mightiest warrior in the Achaean
Army. But he grapples with his humanity as well. Pride and anger cost his Army dearly.
“Rage—Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus’ son Achilles, murderous, doomed, that cost the
Achaeans countless losses, hurling down to the House of Death so many sturdy souls, great
fighter’ souls, but made their body carrion, feasts for the dogs and birds, and the will of Zeus was
moving toward its end. Begin, Muse, when the two first broke and clashed, Agamemnon lord of
men and brilliant Achilles (Puchner)” Abusch argues that “Both characters cope with issues of an
existential nature like the human drive to achieve, the value of friendship, the experience of loss,
and the inevitability of death (Abusch).” Perhaps the characters’ human drive to achieve coupled
with heroics flaws of pride and arrogance is what contributes most to Gilgamesh’s decision to
lead his friend to his eventual and unnecessary death and Achilles to cause a great and
unnecessary loss of life amongst his fellow warriors.
The minds of Gilgamesh and Achilles are undoubtedly consumed with pride, arrogance
and a gratuitous desire for glory. Pride, arrogance and a desire for glory lead these characters to
believe the notion that absolute power is within their reach and realm. Perhaps they feel no sense
of remorse because they identify more with the egotistical image of who they think they are in
their pride and arrogance versus the way the world around them views them honestly.
Gilgamesh walked back and forth throughout the land of Uruk with his head thrust high in the
boldness of pride and arrogance, harassing young men and rampaging fiercely over his people
with power and glory. His decision to act out in the manner of perceived absolute power harmed
the people he was created for and left those people no choice but to offer up complaints to the
gods for help.
Achilles demonstrates pride, arrogance and a desire for power and glory as well. He
approached his mother, Goddess Thetis, and asked her to persuade Zeus to help bring losses on
the Achaeans at the hands of the Trojans. He asked his mother to do this so that King
Agamemnon would realize how much he needed Achilles. Out of pride, Achilles wanted to hear
Agamemnon beg for his help. A prideful heart and thirst for power leads Achilles to ignore the
dire consequences he would bring upon the greater good all in the name of vanity and his ego. It
is interesting that Thetis does as Achilles requests saying, “Do justice by him, Lord of Olympus.
Give the Trojans the upper hand until the Greeks grant my son the honor he deserves (Puchner).”
Perhaps Thetis spurns more pride in the heart of Achilles by following through with the request.
Instead of having a “deal with it” attitude, she seems to be offended for her son and seeks justice.
This justice, however, will lead to the death of many fellow men – all in the name of Achilles’
Gilgamesh sets out on an adventure with his friend, Enkidu, to inscribe his name with
everlasting fame. While he seeks a name that will be remembered gloriously and a story that
will be retold again and again by many generations to follow, the result is quite the opposite.
This adventure demonstrates the character’s unparalleled amount of courage and strength, which
are excellent traits, but it highlights the consequences of pride that stem from a wanton desire for
absolute glory. Gilgamesh declares to Enkidu, “As for man, his days are numbered, whatever he
may do, it is but wind (Puchner).” Gilgamesh alludes to the fact that his days are not numbered
and what he will accomplish is superior to man’s accomplishments. He continues, “Here are you
afraid of death! What has become of your mighty valor? Let me walk in front of you, and you
can call to me, ‘Go on without fear (Puchner)!” This clearly demonstrates Gilgamesh’s pride
and arrogance firsthand. He tells his mortal friend who appears to be afraid of the coming battle
with the terrible Huwawa, to stand behind him while he walks ahead. He touts his courage and
strength over Enkidu’s, another evidence to the fact that Gilgamesh feels as if he is not like his
friend. He is better than man. He is greater and deserves greater recognition if, in fact, he
should fall in battle.
Due to his own pride and arrogance, Gilgamesh loses his dearest companion and former
foe, Enkidu, to death during the adventure. If Gilgamesh’s pride caused him to become more
intense and uncontrollable in glory, the loss of his friend and connection to man caused him to
become more troubled and desperate to become immortal. Abusch argues, “He [Gilgamesh] is
thrown into despair and, after failing to bring his friend back to life, he rejects all human
identities and obligations, flees to the wild where he assumes the identity of his dead friend, and
finally goes in search of actual, physical immortality (Abusch).” Furthermore, Van Nortwick
states, “Achilles loses touch with himself due to a bold sense of pride and arrogance as well. His
attempt to fashion his reality by imposing his will on the world is deluded and impossible (Van
Nortwick).” Both characters fully embrace the status and power that the gods have granted
them. But, both realize their fates are sealed in the human realm. Achilles’ mother tells him of
two fates that lie ahead just before his eventual human death.
“If I hold out here and I lay siege to Troy,
my journey home is gone, but my glory never dies.
If I voyage back to the fatherland I love,
my pride, my glory dies.” (The Iliad)
Faced with the choice, Achilles must make a conscious decision: fight and die in everlasting
glory or flee and lose his pride. Achilles wants to be glorified so badly that he’s willing to die
for it in war.
Gilgamesh seeks to be immortal like the gods, but his pride and arrogance cause him to
ignore the fact that he is one-third man. Any attempt at achieving immortality is futile for a man
and Gilgamesh realizes this after he loses the magical plant on his quest to become immortal.
What happens after proves to be a pivotal point in his life, a wake-up call, a moment of total
truth. In fact, his fate was sealed by the sea as described in the Epic (290-295) “The sea cast him
up on his home shore.”
In their final days, Gilgamesh and Achilles are forced to face the fact of life that every
mortal must face. It is the inescapable human connection to and inevitability of death. The
tavern-keeper tells Gilgamesh, “The life you seek you will never find (Epic of Gilgamesh).” The
immortality he seeks is not something that was given to man, or to him, by the gods. Since he
was created part man, he must realize his human connection and decide whether or not to
embrace it. In speaking to the tavern-keeper, it is as if Gilgamesh is looking into a mirror,
staring into what could be the future of the King.
The tavern-keeper offers an alternative for the King of Uruk. Instead of continuing on his
quest to seek immortality like the gods, the tavern-keeper reveals to Gilgamesh that he will not
find the immortal life he seeks because he is not a god. He shares wisdom on how to embrace
his humanity, not deny it out of pride and arrogance as he is doing. He reveals to Gilgamesh
how to enjoy the human experience and revere the opportunity to live happily day and night. He
advises the King to esteem to raise a family, embrace his mortality and look away from a longing
for an unattainable immortal state of being. He tells the King to live in the now, seek the
benefits of a compassionate relationship he could have with a wife and bask in the pleasures that
come with this sort of human experience. Instead of taking the tavern-keeper’s advice, the King
of Uruk remains at conflict with himself and, thus, cannot escape the insurmountable struggle
with pride and the ever longing thirst for glory and immortality.
Like the King of Uruk, Achilles is a mighty and heroic warrior, successful in virtually
every battle he faces. Salyer states, “Achilles owed his s ...
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