Despite the fact that the two epics were written at various times, the central plot themes and constructs remain. A review between the two productions reveals that while the superficial aspects of the epic have shifted, components such as motifs, themes, and symbols have not.
The fighting is a part of the plot of both epics. Panther, for example, targets Jake’s avatar as he first arrives in Pandora in Avatar (Avatar Best Channel 2). Quaritch, the head of the Resource Development Administration, directs his men to burn the home tree, a massive tree that served as the clan’s meeting spot (Elbert, Roger 6). Quaritch shoots Grace as they flee with Jake and the pilot. Jake unites the clan and other tribes in Pandora to fight against the humans (Elbert, Roger 11) while in Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh and Enkidu wrestle the bull of heaven sent to punish him by the god of the sky and kill it. A snake steals the plant of restoring youth from Gilgamesh. It sheds its skin and becomes young again (Sandars, N.K). There are several similarities in the actions of the two epics; In both epics, there was a fight between the same side. Jake fought against his fellow men from the earth. Gilgamesh had fought with Enkidu before they became friends. In both works, knowledge was gained throughout the story. In both works, companions are willing to fight for them. Grace stands ready to help Jake, and even after she dies, the Pandorians join Jake in the fight. Enkidu helps Gilgamesh in his fights.
The two epics also demonstrate themes of the hero whereby Avatar, Jake eventually became the hero. It is evidenced by; when Jake was appointed the leader of the Na’vi tribe after he won the war against the humans (Elbert, Roger 15). They could never win the humans without the help of Jake and his friends. He also showed his power by riding Taruk. He was able to learn things which the people were working at for their lifetime in three months, whereas Gilgamesh was a hero because he was able to contribute a lot to his city which he ruled. He was able to interact with gods and goddesses (Mitchell, Stephen 10). The two heroes have similarities in that, both heroes displayed extraordinary confidence in their quest. For example, Jack riding the Taruk and Gilgamesh fighting the Heaven Bull and the monster in the forbidden forest. Both heroes were guided by gods to accomplish their mission. Both heroes obtained knowledge which changed their way of thinking. In the end, both heroes did what was best for their people. The difference between the two heroes is, that Gilgamesh was in power already at the beginning of the story, but Jake was just a replacement of his deceased brother. Another contrast is that Gilgamesh abused his power by oppressing his subjects, but Jack did not. The heroes also differ in that, Gilgamesh’s deeds are just physical for people to see, but Jake’s deeds will be legends for many years to come.
The two epics also demonstrate journey motifs. In Avatar, the floating symbols of the gods help Jake. When Neytiri met Jake, she was ready to kill him, but floating symbol of Eywa, mother goddess of the Na’vi clan saved him. He also rides the Taruk with the aid of the gods. He connects his mind to that of Toruk, a dragon-like predator who was feared and honored by the Na’vi, so as to regain their trust in him (Connelly, Brendon 13). He also organizes the clan to fight against the humans, and they well cooperate though he didn’t belong to that tribe (Discovery Networks 11). In Gilgamesh, the gods sent Enkidu so as to keep Gilgamesh in check. When Gilgamesh and Enkidu went to steal trees from the forbidden forest, the sun god, Shamash, helped them to kill the monster guarding the forest. The similarity in the two epics is that, gods intervened and aided in the completion of the mission. The difference is that in both works, the gods intervened but in avatar god’s contribution was tangible but in Gilgamesh, it was not clearly seen.
In conclusion, examining both works in Avatar and Gilgamesh, I can say that they have similarities in the main characters, the action and also in how the journey was undertaken. Also, there are several differences in the two works based on the heroes of the epics, the action and how the works are carried out throughout the story.
Connelly, Brendon. “Steven Spielberg’s Reaction to Avatar – /Film.” Slashfilm. N.p.,18 Dec. 2009. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.
DiscoveryNetworks. “Avatar: Interview with James Cameron.” YouTube. YouTube, 12 Jan. 2010. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.
Mitchell, Stephen. Gilgamesh: A New English Version., 2014. Internet resource.
Sandars, N K. The Epic of Gilgamesh. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1977. Internet resource.
Piazza, Jo. “Audiences experience ‘Avatar’ blues.” CNN. Cable News Network, 11 Jan. 2010. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.