The Epic of Gilgamesh

People Are Disturbed Not By the Things but By the View, They Take Them

This quote focuses on the different perspectives of people when it comes to judging the world around them. This quote is applicable to a wide range of literary works in which protagonists receive direct effect from issues in their surrounding based on the way they perceive them. Because of individual perceptions about issues affecting characters in their home environment, protagonists end up accepting what the society presents to them or rebel against some cultural norms. In this discussion, the focus will be on the quote in relation to three literary works by renowned writers. These include The Epic of Gilgamesh, Original Canterbury Tales, and the Tale of Genji.

The Epic of Gilgamesh is essentially a human story that focuses on the main character, Gilgamesh. The story starts with the protagonist’s beginning. This is contrary to the evident cosmic beginning of stories. The story underlying the whole tale is through an exploration of divine figures of the society in question. There is that question of unfolding gods and goddesses. For instance, in the beginning, there was “An” epically alluding to the Babylonian Anu who was the first born of primeval sea. This in fact is symbolic to the waters of space (Kovacs 63). The Epic of Gilgamesh has a historical ground on how some values on gods took the central theme in the society.

In the traditional Mesopotamian society and perspective, the divine world associated closely with human beings. At personal level, the relationship between the supernatural worlds was evident through a person’s inner god and belief. On the outside, an individual’s perspective concerned a person’s king. As a result, every person held conventional rulers in high esteem since they associated their power with that of the gods. In the book, Gilgamesh comes out as a character that surpasses all rulers. Among the Sumerians, kingship emanates from heaven. There is a list of eight divine kings, who ruled the dynasty for long after power descended from heaven. The view that kingship comes from heaven adds to the respect that kings receive from their community. For instance, after the floods came and swept the five cities of their kingship, the society believes that kingship once again descended from heaven.

The quote “people are disturbed not by the things but by the view, they take them” comes out clearly through a close analysis of Gilgamesh in the first part of the Epic of Gilgamesh. This part titled “He Who Saw the Deep” has some significant attachment to the choices that people make in life (Kovacs 63). Literary, Gilgamesh saw the Abyss. This changed his perception of his ability. As a result, he surpassed all kings and moved around the world looking for life. According to the writer, this character was wise and knew virtually everything in the ordinary world. Gilgamesh had the ability of seeing hidden things and unveiled places that seemed ambiguous to the ordinary society. He in fact carried the message from the period before the coming of floods. The society in the epic looks out for him in a different angle. Essentially, this figure came from God with diverse abilities. Gilgamesh’s realization of what he is in society gives him courage to colonise their minds. He is literary worshiped for what appears like the ability he has over natural phenomena.

On the other hand, the author of “Original Canterbury Tales” brings out the quote “people are disturbed not by the things but by the view, they take them” by looking at the medieval England history. It is disturbing that obedience in the medieval England had to tie women alone (Chaucer and Hopper 112). At any moment a woman dared to defy male authority, she indicated wickedness, which alluded to the effects of Eve defying Adam. The society in medieval England also compared a woman to Virgin Mary when she lived faithful to her husband and obeyed the power of her husband. This was regardless of the situation in which the woman lived. As a result, the Original Canterbury Tales focus on gender relationships as replicated in the larger society. Characters have varied viewpoints towards the opposite sex. The author of these stories achieved the highest potential in depicting varying perspectives as key to people’s way of life through irony and humour.

There are a number of relationships in the stories. This links bring out the theme subject that people are disturbed by the way; they see situations as opposed to the situations themselves (Chaucer and Hopper 132). A good example of such a relationship is between the parson and Bath’s wife. This interaction reflects a difficult attitude of most male characters and narrators towards women. There is no evidence that women are weaker individuals compared to the men. However, since the perceptions among most narrators in the stories indicate weaknesses for the female characters, everybody in the society acknowledges this fact and any alterations result into resentment. The patriarchal Medieval England society does not tolerate a woman like the wife of Bath on the basis that she defies male authority.

The major theme in “the Original Canterbury Tales” dates back to the fourteenth century, when women were subject to men (Chaucer and Hopper 68). People’s concern was that any moment there was marriage between two individuals; the woman became the chattel for her husband. Even in the legal aspects, a woman could not hold ground since she remained so dependent on her husband in the society. In case this wife had assets before marriage, all the property ownership shifted to her husband after marriage.

To draw that distinction between individuals’ perceptions of things, and how they are disturbed, the author experiments with female characters. He uses Prioress and the Second Nun to imitate the female voice in matters of religion. These characters devotion on their religion helps them to avoid conflicts with the patriarchal order of the land. The writer makes these narrators a subjective point of view. However, things turn out differently when the Wife of Bath. She is a controversial character and this earns her disrespect in the patriarchal society. She defies this belief by manipulating her husband and gains control over him as well as the entire property. She changes her perception about women being inferior objects in society. This is evident through her attempt to challenge the clergy’s representation of the word of God. This works to her advantage. She detaches herself from the fear that overwhelms every woman in society. Women have no voice about their existence in a patriarchal society (Chaucer and Hopper 91). However, the Wife of Bath puts aside this fear and talks freely as a woman in a male dominated society. She has extensive expertise in love attributed to her vast experience in relationships with men.

In the same way, The Tale of Genji focuses on the relationship between men and women in society. Their interaction affects so much the way they live and see thing in different points of view. In this work, Genji dedicates most of his time on love issues through a magnified perspective as opposed to the direct confrontation of love. The author depicts Genji as an individual that has little concern to the actual issue surrounding him. Although most of the women that this protagonist writes letters to have no interest in him, he insists on writing more and more love poems. The women in this collection of tales have a different perspective (Shikibu and Suematsu 37). They believe that nothing significant can come out of Genji. As a result, having an affair with Genji destines to failure in life. This makes the women to resist the impulse at all costs although they hold a level of feelings towards Genji. The main protagonist focuses his energies on affairs outside the court yet this proves scandalous for an individual in his position. This causes him to carry out these affairs secretly to avoid conflicts with those above him.

Genji indicates a level of disturbance emanating from the circumstances he finds himself in when he lusts for a princess. From the story, it is clear that there was not love at all. He is only propelled by the fact that he heard the princess play music beautifully. It is boring when he commences on declaring his love for the princess in a flurry of letters. The princess has no response to any of Genji’s letters, which makes him frustrated. Genji’s energy in pursuit of this princess wears out the more he finds out about her. This makes him guilty for having put in spirited efforts in pursuit of the princess. He wishes this episode never happened.

This disturbs Genji for a long time. He has no option but to maintain the link even after he has no feelings anymore. Through this behaviour, Genji finds himself in trouble in one of his affairs (Shikibu and Suematsu 85). He has the attention of an elderly woman. This results into plotting of ways in which he can use to evade the woman without hurting his feelings. Ultimately, the protagonist experiences an uncertain death, which picks momentum after sometime. The author of this story uses Genji’s series of affairs as a technique to bring out the manner in which people in this society channel their energies so much on things around them based on their individual judgment. This depicts a wide range of youthful love affair failures within the setting of this story. Young people in the community show devastating portraits of love affairs that vary from tragic obsession to total disaster. A close analysis of the story reveals the author’s focus on the women that Genji dates as opposed to Genji himself. Their feelings and experiences depend on the points of view they hold about Genji, and finally dictate their destiny. This as well shows degeneration of manners among the rulers of the society in question. They had multiple affairs not only for sexual functions but also for acquaintances. However, it is evident that these women had different social status to reflect diverse perspectives about life.

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