‘Oedipus the king’, ‘Gilgamesh’ and ‘Don Quixote’
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The stories of ‘Oedipus the king’, ‘Gilgamesh’ and ‘Don Quixote’ all reflect the same thing in the reader’s mind. They all are brave and dare to do anything to succeed, but all the three characters are controlled by the hands of their fate. The stories are written in different environment and surroundings but the base of them is same and the reader sees how the wheel turns their life in the end rather the whole life seems to be controlled by their respective fate. It appears that everything is being controlled by God and it happens as is desired by him or written in one’s fate. The concept of fate in stories has been exciting for the readers from the time people started reading and Greeks believe in it a lot. The thought of predetermined facts thrill the reader and he wants to know what exactly happened in the story. The excitement remains throughout which is very important for the relationship between the writer and the reader. Gilgamesh is very brave and is ready to face any hazards that are going to come in his journey when he wants to bring back his friend from the hands of death. This is possible with a very brave and daring person and it is clear from the following extract from the story.
Gilgamesh who feared nothing, might have been expected to say, ‘ then it’s I who will go out and subdue him [Enkidu] and bring him captive to the city. He was determined to unearth the secret of life and death and bring back his friend after Page 2 his death. No living man has ever dared to do so but Gilgamesh heads on and faces a lot of difficulties but ultimately succeeds in his mission. Gilgamesh is a mythological hero king of ancient Mesopotamia who might have been ruling in 27th century BC. The poems describe the unique relationship of Gilgamesh and his friend Enkidu who is half wild and undertakes dangerous quests with Gilgamesh. Most of the epic focuses on how Gilgamesh unearths the secret of life and death after the death of his dear friend and brings him back to human after a long and hazardous journey. Quite a lot of emphasis is given on immortality because Gilgamesh is found to be searching for immortality after his friend Enkidu’s death. The epic is more often read in translation and is admired throughout. The story of Gilgamesh starts with an introduction of Gilgamesh as the greatest king on earth and the strongest king that ever existed.
The introduction also describes his glory and the city of Uruk where he rules is praised for its brick walls. It is also seen that the people of his time are not happy with him because he is a harsh ruler. Here again the wheel turns and he is punished for his deeds in the end. Importance of dreams is also felt in this epic and is mentioned clearly. The first time Gilgamesh dreams and tells his mother about the strange dreams. She tells him that a mighty friend will come to him. While he is traveling in the cedar forest with his friend, Gilgamesh has five bad dreams, which is described as a good omen by his friend. In the story of ‘Don Quixote’ the reader finds that the beginning paragraph of the story describes his chivalry and how he slips from his home to begin his journey. It is seen again when he recovers from his injury after a severe fight with a passerby, that again he Page 3 slips quietly from his home and goes on a journey. Most of the time the things are not in real but in his imagination and he even fights for them. Due to this imagination of Don Quixote he fights with a flock of sheep and is beaten by the shepherds in return. He attacks a chain of prisoners and wants them to be freed. In this way he is seen imagining things and situations a lot of time in the story. But he is brave too and enters the inn, which he has mistaken to be a castle.
The whole journey and the events that take place are described and almost in the end Don Quixote realizes and wants to perform penance. Both part one and part two of ‘Don Quixote’ differs in its tone and the part two starts with a conversation and continues with it. It is much more reflective and most part of the text belongs to Don Quixote. In part one Don Quixote frees some of the convicts and their master reappears like a puppet master. In the end he returns home defeated by reality and dies refusing to acknowledge his identity as a knight. Don Quixote is also seen defeated by the hands of his fate in the end of the story. The turn of the wheel of fate or time is seen throughout the story. In the story of ‘Oedipus the king’, Oedipus’s father after learning from an oracle that his son will kill him ties the feet of the infant and asks a servant to kill him. But he is found by a peasant and named Oedipus. As the peasant cannot afford and has no means he gives the child to his fellow peasant and after that he is brought up by a childless king.
Oedipus is carried away because of his fate and his fate dominates the whole story. The wheel of his fate turns a lot of time in his life and he is almost like a puppet in the hnad of fate. When he was young he left the palace and on his way he meets his biological father but unknowingly he argues with him and Page 4 kills him and the first part of the oracle’s prophecy is fulfilled. Importance of supernatural powers and their effects are seen in this story. Again on his way he is asked a riddle by a sphinx and he solves it. The riddle is What is the creature that walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon and three legs in the evening? Oedipus answered, ‘man’. After solving the riddle he frees the Kingdom of Thebes and hence the hands of the queen is given to him in reward and she is actually his biological mother. When the people in his kingdom are suffering from plague he promises to them to find out their king’s murderer and send him to exile. He is unaware of the fact that whom he had killed was the king himself.
After asking his old servant and revelation of some more facts, his wife who is actually his mother guesses the truth and runs away and hangs herself. On finding her body he blinds himself and shows his intension to go on the exile. But his children insist that he should ask oracle on what should be done next. In this way at the end of the story it is said that no man is happy unless he dies. Every event in the story seems to be controlled by the wheel of time or fate. In all the three stories it is seen that fate, supernatural powers have their impact and effects. Among all, Gilgamesh is the bravest one and all the three leave their homes and go on journey where they meet and fight and their life changes. How the wheel of fate and time turns is seen in each of the three. Almost every event in their lives is controlled by their fates even if they are determined to do what they want and die in the end of the Page 5 story having regrets for what they did all their life. Oedipus is morally and spiritually blind and God wants to open his eyes on every move in his life. In the end when he actually blinds himself it is symbolic that he is seeing the real truth and is not blind morally or spiritually as he is unable to see the outer world and is able to interact with the inner world.
In the end of the three stories of ‘Oedipus the king’, ‘Gilgamesh’ and ‘Don Quixote’, all the three main characters want to kill themselves and come to know the fact in the end. These epics are designed to show that life means any individual’s movement from the memory of events and experiences to moral and spiritual message that lies behind these experiences. It is also seen in these stories that the wheel of time turns and everyone has to pay for his misdeeds in life. Everything happens as it has to in everyone’s life. The author wants to convey that most of the time people don’t know what is going to happen but even if they knew as in the case of Oedipus the king, they are bound to do what is written in their fate. This is the actual story and people face almost the same things in their life. Fate decides and recognizes your actual place in the society and you have to live accordingly. The moral about one’s life lies in the story and it is seen that fate can hold your hands and leave you blindfolded from the facts of life.
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