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An Expressed Role of Women in "Genesis', The Ramayana and Epic of Gilgamesh

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In the book of “Genesis,’ Epic of Gilgamesh, and The Ramayana women are presented as worthless and insignificant to civilization. Eve’s story in “Genesis” continues to impact the lives and roles of all women. In early Christianity, Eve is shown as inferior to Adam because she is created from one of his ribs as a result she is viewed as weak, devious and the cause of Adam’s disobedience. Moreover, in the epic women have few rights and are only respected if they are goddesses. Throughout the epic, women are recognized for maintaining influential authority over men’s decisions, which leads to immortality. Similarly, women in Ramayana fought against patriarchy of male domination. Also the Hindu women were passionate and applied their emotional intelligence in their strive for survival, while aiding men during despair. Throughout literature, the authors express similar perspectives on women as they represent knowledge and authority, but also rebellion against social standards. After timeless oppression and overcoming obstacles for generations women around the world are now responsible for household duties and expanding their involvement in society, showing that they are capable of reaching success in a male dominated world.

The story of Eve in “Genesis” continues to influences the lives and responsibilities of women. Eve is the first woman to be introduced in the Bible therefore representing all of womanhood. Additionally, God created Eve from one of Adam’s ribs to emphasize how Eve will always be at his side in a partnership through marriage. After forming the humans he places them in the Garden of Eden and commands Eve saying, “you are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die” (2:16-17). In this instant, they are pure and oblivious to their nakedness, although when the serpent betrays Eve to eat from the tree she offers some to Adam causing him to give disobey. Therefore, Eve is viewed as weak and deceitful, after gaining additional knowledge giving them the ability to develop judgments. Since, Eve gave into temptation, God tells her how she will be punished for rebelling against His rules. Moreover, Eve was the first to take from the forbidden tree causing her to endure birthing pains and a man’s ruling as a penalty for her behavior. After Eve’s misstep, all women are seen as renegades of divinity for destroying God’s image of mankind. Furthermore, conceptions formed after patriarchal literatures over women, shown also in Epic of Gilgamesh.

Women in the Epic of Gilgamesh attain power and wisdom by having the potential to destroy the Mesopotamian society in Uruk. In this culture women are known for their sexual characteristics, which make it easy to domesticate wild men, such as Enkidu. At the beginning of the epic, Enkidu the wild-man living with animals is sent a harlot, Shamhat to domesticate him. Shamhat enters the wild where she gets “stripped of her robe and lays there naked for seven days / Enkidu stays erect and makes love with her”. The sexual encounter is the beginning of Enkidu’s manhood and signifies his advancement in society. Once he attained a union with the prostitute, he sustained a systematic lifestyle, which widened his mind and comprehend things an animal would never. Additionally, Shamhat has the compassion and knowledge to bring Enkidu into civilization by preparing him for problems to come. Another significant woman in Gilgamesh is the tavern-keeper and goddess of wine, Siduri. After Enkidu’s death Gilgamesh meets her while wondering the Cedar Forest and she begins to comfort him. Siduri cautions him that pursuing immortality is useless and he should be content with the desires the world has to offer. Siduri continues to question his decree and expresses what would be best, saying, “humans are born, they live, they die / But until the end comes, enjoy life / Spend it in happiness, not despair… that is the best way for a man to live” . Siduri urges him to contain his sorrows by appreciating his life, despite his friend’s death. Still, Gilgamesh is unresponsive towards her knowledge and support, which builds great suffering and reduces his chances of immortality. She continues to approach him by presenting wisdom, as a reminder of her divinity. Certainly, by Gilgamesh rejecting her aid he undergoes traumatic tribulations. Furthermore, the Mesopotamian and Ancient Indian civilizations overlap when women seek dominance and identity in their lives.

In the Ramayana, women are seen as idols in all of India, specifically Sita. She is an influential woman in the Hindu culture that is shown as a model of love, harmony, and kindness. In the Ramayana, Sita is the Princess of Mithila who struggles with her identity and position of honor. During her youth, she decides to marry to Prince Rama of Ayodhya. However, at dawn Rama prepares to meet Sita’s dad, King Janaka who set the condition that the man she marries must lift and string a bow to be considered worthy. Rama quickly lifts the bow, strings it, and it breaks. Janaka never waived this condition, which made Rama believes that the “king’s aim is to keep Sita with him forever – this is one way of never facing separation! If the man fails, we will all jump into the fire”. Janaka wanted to keep his daughter beside him forever, which emulated a form of authority. He did not want her to marry to Rama because he recognized that she would no longer be under his control. When Rama fails, Sita is “sure to immolate herself and all will follow her example”. Additionally, Sita expresses that if the man who broke the bow is not Rama, she will commit suicide. Thus, Sita is sensible and secludes herself from Rama’s situation by avoiding his latest progress. Finally, she marries Rama and is the ideal wife for him because she is extremely faithful to her husband and follows him into exile. Despite her wonderful qualities, Sita is at times disobedient, irritable, and useless, which leads to her kidnapping by Ravana. Ravana is the demon with ten heads and ten set of arms, and is a king of the island Lanka. He is lustful and keeps his wife and other women for his pleasure, although he is cursed to die if he touches a woman without permission. His lust for Sita leads to his wife’s kidnapping, due to her beauty and Rama’s intensified protection. First, Ravana imprisons her with numerous women who must break down her defenses to agree to have sex with Ravana. Once Sita sees that he is trying to exploit his power she sends Rama finishes Ravana in a battle. In R.K. Narayan’s translation of Ramayana, he expresses how “women can lead one to death”. Sita maintained emotional intelligence and knew his actions would lead to greater risks. Moreover, Sita knew of Ravana’s evil and destructive weapons, though she felt at ease during his fatality, since he desired to reign over her. In all three works of literature, the authors have similar outlooks on women, despite the different regions of the world they occur in.

Throughout literature women are viewed in the same light. Women continuously assist others in times of despair and revolt against men who demand dominance. At the start of creation, the Bible lays the foundation for women’s roles in humanity. God designated Eve to be Adam’s ‘helper’ because a man alone is unsuitable. Therefore, Eve was solely created for the purpose of staying alongside Adam to assist in the vocation God had given him in the Garden of Eden. The Bible uses the word ‘helper’ numerous times in scripture, which connotes a submissive role to the person being helped. Additionally, Adam is given the leadership role of naming the ‘woman,’ in which he calls her Eve. By attaining the power to name the woman, Adam is now entitled to now have authority over Eve. Though, the stigma of women is always negative; Eve was the one who ate from the forbidden tree of knowledge first. This moment is the start of an idea showing how women are the first to gain knowledge and convey learning and progression. Eve’s action in pursuing Adam to eat from the tree is seen as a transfer of knowledge, despite their punishments. Similarly, the Sumerian culture assumed that women were only capable of caring for a man. Shamhat in Epic of Gilgamesh is sent to train the wild-man Enkidu and bring him to society. Like Eve, Shamhat takes Enkidu and brings him into nature to give him a chance to become fruitful. In these literatures, women display insight and influence to create better lives for men, despite their impending authority. Correspondingly, the Ramayana adds to the position of women as the powerful prince of Ayodhya who earns the right to marry Sita. Additionally, Sita is shown as a prize and is kidnapped by an evil demon that is planning on seducing her. Throughout literature women are still seen possessions, despite their willingness to relieve men of their traumas. Furthermore, early literature continues to have an effect on the status of women through history.

In Medieval literature women were seen as sensual and sincere, where femininity was prominent. The women during this literary period were conflicted with the idealism and desires in women, such as Eve who embodied these attributes of an antagonist. Similarly, women in Greek Mythology are viewed as sexual figures, rather than human beings. As a result, many are women are overruled by Gods and higher authority. During this time, women’s rights are narrowed and disregarded towards freedom. Even if the women are goddesses her abilities are limited and not displayed other than for good. In today’s literature women roles have immensely flourished as lead women attain strong roles. Also, literature is now serving as a gateway for women’s rights and radicalism. After centuries of male domination, authors started to provide audiences with gender equality and cultural perspectives. Women in modern literature are finally seen self-determining by delaying household duties and contributing to the world. Now, women are entering authoritative roles in politics, medicine, and law, all while having duties to return to at home. The women’s rights movement started the progression of equality with men. Over history, this event has taken away property rights, suffrage, voting, equal pay, and reproductive privileges. Therefore, literature continues to progress as women can attain a normal lifestyle today, without being controlled by a man.

From the beginning of creation women were never given the chance to reach their full potential. Eve in the Garden of Eden took from the trees of good and evil, which ruined the perspective of women in the world. As a result, Epic of Gilgamesh continues with the perception of women being ruled by kings, unless seen as a Goddess. Centuries progressed and women in the Ramayana are striving for existence in the midst of despair. Despite the past, women are now able to embrace opportunities to flourish and pursue goals that were always derived by men. From the readings, I learned how strong women are to have dealt with a man’s ruling over their lives and how grateful women should be today, since we are fortunate to make our own decisions. Furthermore, women suffered for many centuries, though it provided women today with the opportunity to fulfill a life’s successes.      

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An Expressed Role of Women in “Genesis’, The Ramayana and Epic of Gilgamesh. (2022, April 29). GradesFixer. Retrieved August 16, 2022, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/an-expressed-role-of-women-in-genesis-the-ramayana-and-epic-of-gilgamesh/
“An Expressed Role of Women in “Genesis’, The Ramayana and Epic of Gilgamesh.” GradesFixer, 29 Apr. 2022, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/an-expressed-role-of-women-in-genesis-the-ramayana-and-epic-of-gilgamesh/
An Expressed Role of Women in “Genesis’, The Ramayana and Epic of Gilgamesh. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/an-expressed-role-of-women-in-genesis-the-ramayana-and-epic-of-gilgamesh/> [Accessed 16 Aug. 2022].
An Expressed Role of Women in “Genesis’, The Ramayana and Epic of Gilgamesh [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 Apr 29 [cited 2022 Aug 16]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/an-expressed-role-of-women-in-genesis-the-ramayana-and-epic-of-gilgamesh/
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