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Essay Topic 1
What is the nature of the gods in The Epic of Gilgamesh? Are the gods good or are they evil? Do the gods establish a good toward which human beings should strive, or are they merely meddlers in the affairs of men? What does it mean for Gilgamesh to be two-thirds god and one-third man?
Is Gilgamesh a virtuous character? What is the crucial point for his transformation from a tyrant to one who seeks knowledge? Is Gilgamesh a man of action or a man of contemplation?
The Epic of Gilgamesh and The Inferno both have important female characters who are tremendously influential in the development of the plots. What role do women play within the role of these works, and in which ways is this significant? In what respect do women hold important positions? What is the manner in which they are accorded respect? Consider this topic for writing on either or both epic poems.
Does Gilgamesh change over the course of their respective epic poems? Does he meet the hero standards according to Joseph Campbell? In what important ways does Gilgamesh develop, or remain firm?
How is Virgil’s presence vital to Dante’s journey through Hell in the Inferno?
Explore Dante’s use of the numbers 3 and 1, and the combinations of those numbers. Provide examples of how these numbers function in the epic poem.
In Canto V of the Inferno, explain how punishment fits the sin. See sample essay as possible approach.
A few reminders before you write. . .
Your paper will NOT necessarily answer all the questions in the prompt. These questions are designed to get you THINKING. You must decide what to focus on and what INTERPRETIVE POINT to argue. A topic is not a thesis. A series of observations that are true but not debatable may be excellent notes for a paper, but they are not (yet) interpretive analytic writing. Until you say something debatable about the topic which can be supported by textual interpretation, your paper has no interpretive focus (there is no debatable thesis).
Be sure that your essay conforms to the standards outlined in the Basic Steps in Writing a Literature Paper and on the ESSAY EVALUATION CHECKLIST (which I use when grading written work). PROOFREAD CAREFULLY to ensure that you do NOT make the mechanical or stylistic errors listed on the checklist!
Your essay should be approximately 850 –1200 words and have a title which suggests the topic/thesis of your paper and should include citations from the literary texts for support. See Basic Steps in Writing a Literature Paper for proper format and information to include.