Our choices today have often have consequences. Punishment balances the actions of the protagonist. Its intensity determines whether a story is tragic and gives clues to the mindset of the era the book was written in.
Gilgamesh’s choices in life come heavy with consequences. Eg. When faced with Ishtar he resists her temptation and saves his own life only to be faced with the Bull of Heaven (Tablet 6, 6-90).
Sometimes Gilgamesh's punishments didn't match the crime he committed like the handle on this jug. For example, Enkidu was killed as punishment for destroying the Bull of Heaven who would have brought seven years of famine.(Tablet 6, 151-3,Tablet 7,1-37)
According to 'Civilization and its Discontents', society represses a lot of man's desires which are then channeled into something else, possibly aggression. This accounts for mans' neurotic, unhappy demeanor.(Civilization and its Discontents 89)
Society creates laws and restrictions for mans' love instinct and gives punishment for when they are broken. "(Civilization and its Discontents 83)
In Gethen, not adhering to society's rules results in sure consequence. No one can get away with anything. "Winter is an inimical world; its punishment for doing things wrong is sure and prompt: death from cold or death from hunger."(Le Guin 105)
One of the forms of punishment in the Left Hand of Darkness is exile. Estraven was exiled from Karhide perhaps Kemmering with his brother repeatedly.
The Agora in ancient Athens was the center of political life in the city. In a democratic government such as Athens, death sentence doesn't seem fitting for Socrates' 'crime'.
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