Comparison of The Epic of Gilgamesh and Euripides’ Medea
Refusal of the Call According to Volger, refusal of the call is an important stage in every hero’s journey, however, some characters may skip it. The hero who received a call feels insecure and scared at first being not sure in his powers. The hero does not want to change anything in his settled life and chooses his simple, habitual way of existence at first. Refusal of the call helps to understand that the stakes are high and the hero has certain risks. The hero may fail, may get hurt or even die that is why he hesitates first. Moreover, he must have duties and responsibilities in his present life connected to his position in society or family. The hero may refuse several times being repeatedly called for journey. Eventually the hero must understand that he has no other choice than to risk and accept the call. By this moment the hero is already transformed because he has acknowledged all the danger and the seriousness of future adventure (2007).
One of the most ancient epic poems of civilization is also built according to the scenario described by Volger. At first, Gilgamesh, the main hero of the epos is ruthless, aggressive, and impulsive in his actions. He abuses his powers given to him by the people of Uruk until some day he starts seeing strange dreams. Gilgamesh receives a call for adventure in a special way- with the help of dreams in which he senses that something serious might happen. He gets bewildered by his visions and refuses to believe them, but his mother helps to interpret these dreams to him. She explains to the son that he is afraid of failure because he had never experienced it before. So Gilgamesh leaves his doubts behind and accepts the reality in which he has to meet Enkidu as his dreams point to his meeting with an opponent.
It is hardly possible to perceive Euripide’s Medea as typical hero`s quest because the main goal of the heroine`s transformation is ferocious revenge. Medea blinded by jealousy and injustice decides to take revenge on her husband in the most atrocious way- by murdering their common children. The woman has left her motherhood, killed her brother, and became an outcast to be with Jason who decides to remarry and leave Medea and their family. Medea`s primary call is to kill their two children and make Jason feel the most horrible pain ever imagined. By this horrible deed Medea will get out of the ordinary world and will transform irrevocably. Medea makes this decision consciously and views it as the only solution of the tragedy of betrayal. However, she also passes through the stage of refusal of the call when she faces some internal hesitation. Medea supposes that the pain that she will experience will be unbearable as well, however, later she decides that her children`s murder is the only possible way out of the situation between her and Jason.
So both heroes of these absolutely different literary works have to pass through their own obstacles and tests to become heroes and to get out of the ordinary world. This transformation is in both cases connected with death of the very close people so both Medea and Gilgamesh understand the laws of life and inevitability of pain of death. They also both experience the stage of refusal of the call when they can turn back to the ordinary world but according to the laws of the genre this moment only escalates stakes.
Volger, C. The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers. 2007. New York: Michael Wiese Productions