Relationship Between the Male Figures Essay

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Male Figures

In works of fiction, the hero's journey will always be fraught with danger. He will not only have to overcome his own shortcomings, but will also encounter individuals who hope to impede his journey and prevent him from accomplishing his goals or individuals who will help them overcome their obstacles and succeed. Literature throughout history and literature that transcends cultures exhibit this same proclivity. Each component of the hero's journey, beginning with his quest, his initiation into the situation which will lead to his development, his separation from his origin, and finally his transformation at the end of the story is heavily dictated by the attention and communication he receives from the other male character. The stories "Young Goodman Brown," The Epic of Gilgamesh, Beowulf, and "The Legend of King Arthur" all show pairings of male characters, the protagonist and another male figure who either acts as an adversary or a figure of support, which are integral to the fulfillment or failure of the hero's quest.

In Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown," a young man desires to walk through the woods with the devil in order to see the supposed truth of the people around him and also to test his own value as a member of the Puritan community. His quest is to prove to himself that despite whatever the devil might promise him and whatever revelations the devil might make, he is worthy of his position in the community. However, when he is brought into the devil's web, he finds that he was not as prepared for the visions as he had originally supposed. Going into the woods and witnessing what the reader is meant to understand as false visions is all that is needed to initiate Brown into doing the devil's work. By allowing himself to physically separate from his good wife, who is a pure soul and go into the woods with the self-proclaimed devil, he has already made the choice which will determine his ultimate end. Brown says, "After this one night, I'll cling to her skirts and follow her to Heaven" (Hawthorne).
His promise is an empty one. He claims that he will just transgress this one time to satisfy his curiosity and that he believes he can survive this little trek without destroying himself. This belief is wrong. He is transformed at the end of the story. No longer is he a faithful, kindhearted member of the community, but rather a disconnected, embittered individual who believes all the people around him are base sinners who consort with the devil, judging them for what in fact has done.

"The Epic of Gilgamesh" is an ancient story about the eponymous king who rules his lands of Uruk with an iron will and since he is two-thirds a god, the people are unable to do anything about their despair, except to pray to the gods for help. The gods do choose to intervene by presenting Gilgamesh's opposite, Enkidu. The two are at first adversaries, but then become allies and set about a quest, a journey to Lebanon Cedar Forest. During the journey, they encounter obstacles such as ominous dreams, monsters, and the gods themselves, initiating Gilgamesh into the process wherein he will become a truly great king. Each encounter teaches Gilgamesh a lesson which checks his past behaviors. For example, whereas before Gilgamesh acted without listening to anyone else, when dealing with the monster Humbaba, it is Enkidu's insistence that the creature be killed whereas Gilgamesh's pity would have stayed his hand. After Enkidu's death, Gilgamesh becomes physically separated from the one person who had been able to have a marked influence on him up to this point which, in turn forces him to transform from the vain, hard-headed leader of the beginning. Gilgamesh says, "Seven days and night I sat beside the body, weeping for Enkidu beside the body, and then I saw a worm fall out of his nose…Enkidu, the companion, whom I loved, is dirt, nothing but clay is Enkidu" (Sanders 56). Now, he takes on some of Enkidu's characteristics, such as living in nature. Although he still has room for personal….....

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