Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.
In the Epic of Gilgamesh and Perspolis, there are many similarities, the respective society oppresses women in different ways in each story. In both stories, the strong female characters display their strength and perseverance through sexual expression as a means of surviving in this environment in order to restore balance and reclaim their control. Moreover, family and power in the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Persepolis are two key ongoing factors. In the next few paragraphs, I will explain the similarities between the two novels related to the oppression of women.
In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh is portrayed as a god, hero and a leader. How can A person being portrayed as such kind be also a rapist? I personally do not believe you can portray Gilgamesh as such a superior being. In the novel of Gilgamesh, there are many parts of the story that I do think is disturbing. One of the most disturbing features is the abuse of women and the use of hideous sexual acts to achieve control. It should also be noted that even higher-status women were still listed not by name but as the wife of a man, continuing the idea of women being an object under a man’s command. The epic begins with Gilgamesh sleeping with all Uruk’s women before daughters were released from their custody by mothers and fathers and before husbands enjoyed a touch from their wives. Unlike women with prestigious names and different positions in society, their sexuality was not shown by female citizens. In the novel Epic of Gilgamesh it states, “Goddess kept hearing their plaints,” this shows us that the women and men felt disrespected and disregarded by the “uncannily perfect” Gilgamesh. By Gilgamesh sleeping with women that were not his and did not belong to him, he started to cause chaos and confusion in the land of Uruk. The selfish and unrepentant acts of Gilgamesh, however, made women impure before their time. Ishtar played a vital role in the story as she wanted Gilgamesh for love and sexually, but by sending the Bull of Heaven, when he rejected her, she showed him no mercy and her wrath. Enkidu makes the remark, “Had I caught you too, I’d have treated you likewise, I’d have draped your arms in its guts!” This example is yet another point where, unlike the gods, they both blatantly disrespect women and the gods ultimately lead to each character’s death.
Then in the Perspolis, Marjane exemplifies a true feminist in advocating an independent woman’s values while not criticizing those who choose a more traditional lifestyle. Her entire meaning and purpose in life are to encourage female speech while living under a system of religion that would rather conceal it. The show will provide viewers with visual representations throughout these tales of the struggles of different characters. On page 190 of the Pesopolis, the transition is reflected by a series of panels in which she sheds the image she had in Iran for this newly found freedom of expression in Austria. This look and new environment help her struggle to cope with being an oppressive nation’s sex-positive supporter. Marjane refuses to ‘confess her sins’ because she is proud of her boyfriend’s night, stating, “Can you explain to me what’s indecent about making love with your boyfriend? Shut up yourself! My body is my own! I give it to whomever I want! Its nobody else’s business!” Her saying this was extremely dangerous and brave of her because in her country she could have been prosecuted for being seen with him and having premarital sex which is the sexual activity practiced by people before they are married. Marjane went through many transformations and identity changes after a suicide attempt she met her future husband and went through a full wardrobe change from old clothes to a modern look. This could be that she is still hurt and rejecting traditional customs and methods while thinking of a traditional relationship. Another incident that occurred was Marjane talking to Gila on page 337, who is equally upset about the situation of gender equality in Iran. The quote explains their dissatisfaction in detail, “If a guy kills ten women in the presence of fifteen others, no one can condemn him because in a murder case, we women, we can’t even testify! He is also the one who has the right to divorce and even if he gives it to you, he nonetheless has custody of the children! I heard a religious man justify this law by saying that man was the grain and woman, the earth in which the grain grew, therefore the child naturally belonged to his father! Do you realize?? I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE. I WANT TO LEAVE THIS COUNTRY!”
Now touching on the family side of things, King Gilgamesh and Enkidu have a relationship that from the time they met is almost inseparable. It’s almost like they’re ‘friends.’ But Enkidu is Gilgamesh’s wild man version. Even though they are two separate bodies, they feel like they are completing each other and this is true in many ways. Shamhat is the reason they met because Enkidu was brought to the city where Enkidu ran into Gilgamesh. In addition, Family means everything in the Persepolis. All of them are strong heads in what they believe, and all of them remain together as one. They are fighting for the same rights and standing up for each other. They are still in some kind of contact with each other, no matter where they are in the world, and continue to support and be there for each other. The role of Marji’s parents is very important, especially the role she plays towards her, Marji has done everything her parent’s footsteps that’s possible. As a metaphor for her relationship with her country and the wider world, Satrapi uses her own relationship with her parents. The tension and love that she encounters with her parents is a necessary part of her personal growth. Her relationship is both tender and full of tension with both her mother and father. Her parents love her and try to give her the best in education and life possible. Her parents also hope to bring her a life filled with many privileges. However, at the same time, Marjane feels a great tension between both the political views of her parents and their actions. For the working classes, their belief in equality and liberation conflicts with the privilege they hold and seek in society. At one point, Marjane compares her mother to the Revolutionary Guards, the Islamic regime’s secret police force. The conclusion of the book is a reflection of the ultimate split with those who raise them that all children are must-have. She also splits with the country and culture that brought her up in Marjane’s situation.
In closing, overall the two novels Epic of Gilgamesh and Persepolis have many common likenesses and similarities. Both of these novels focus on two main points, these two main similarities are that both of these novels involved abusiveness and disrespect to a woman and the nationality of family and power. Both of these stories show the different ways that women have been sexually abused and mistreated as well as how they are treated as an item or possessions instead of a human being. The female characters in both of these stories have shown strength and power through the lust to survive and gain control.