Power

Power plays an integral role in both novels. It is represented in various ways throughout each text. In "The Epic of Gilgamesh," power tends to be found more in a raw, physical sense, as well as in a spiritual manner. This text focuses on the strength both Enkidu and Gilgamesh exude, physically and verbally. In addition, the weight of dreams and the desires of the gods are also examined. In "The Complete Persepolis," power resides more in religion and one's sense of self. Throughout this piece of literature, Satrapi portrays the great influence religious and political oppression can have on society. She also stresses the power of self-confidence and being comfortable with oneself. Power can take many shapes and forms and can be hugely impactful on an individual’s life, as is demonstrated through both of these literary works.

This image, although it is of a woman, I found to be a good representation of the physical power Gilgamesh possesses. In the text, Gilgamesh is described as "tall, magnificent, and terrible" with a "six cubit stride" (lines I36, I57). This painting demonstrates Gilgamesh's towering height and ultimate physical power.
I chose this image, with its extremely relevant title, to represent Enkidu's power. Enkidu, being born of the wild, models a more animal-like power. In the text, Enkidu is portrayed as a "god of the animals" with strength "as mighty as a rock from the sky" (lines I109, I125). This image shows a beast that possesses dangerous power, much like Enkidu.
The engraving on the hilt of this sword depicts the battle between Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and Humbaba. The tedious artwork on the handle depicts the power of persuasion. When Gilgamesh was unsure of killing Humbaba, Enkidu encourages Gilgamesh to finish the task, saying "Don't draw back, don't make a retreat! Make your blow mighty!" (lines V106-107). This scene proves how powerful persuasion can be, especially when it comes from a trusted and friendly source.
This image of an enormous cedar tree represents the power of decisions. In deciding to slay Humbaba and cut down the mightiest cedar tree, Gilgamesh and Enkidu signed and sealed Enkidu's doomed fate. The repercussions of this decision filled Enkidu with regret as he cursed the gate fashioned from the tree: "Had I but known, 0 door, that so you would [repay me,] had I but known, 0 door, that so you would reward me" (VII, 47-48). Decisions hold a lot of power; one decision can lead to the next and ultimately shape one's entire future, for better or for worse.
This image represents the power of dreams in the epic. Not only do they have the ability to foreshadow events but they often show the discontent and anger of the gods. Throughout Tablet IV, Gilgamesh envisions many dreams that he interprets as negative signs from the gods, referring to one as “ominous… desolate… unclear” (Ha, 4). The demon-like figures in the top corner of the picture represent the frightening dreams and the person in the image appears to be distressed, much like Gilgamesh is when he awakens from his nightmares. Dreams in this epic are extremely important and powerful for the characters.
This painting represents the power of death. Death is obviously a powerful force as it captures lives, but it is equally as powerful in affecting the loved ones of the deceased. “For his friend Enkidu Gilgamesh did bitterly weep as he wandered the wild” (IX, 1-2). The expression of the man in this image matches my mental image of the distraught face Gilgamesh wears when Enkidu dies. The loss of his best friend and brother completely destroys Gilgamesh as he spirals into mourning and a fear of dying.
Religion plays an integral role in "The Complete Persepolis." In the beginning of the graphic novel, Marjane explains her close relationship with God. She wanted to be a prophet, and possess the "justice, love and the wrath of God all in one" (9). Religion has the power, in the author's case, to inspire or, in the case of the extremists, to terrify. This statue is a representation of God, much like the image the author portrays in her encounters with Him.
The veils the women were forced to wear held a power of their own. The veils, depending on the face and mind they covered, had the power to oppress and subdue or inspire and anger; to incite fear or to incite a riot. Marjane's mother, who initially attended demonstrations to protest the veil, eventually succumbed to oppression when she encountered fundamentalist men who threatened her into wearing the veil: "They insulted me. They said that women like me should be pushed up against a wall and fucked. And then thrown in the garbage. ...And that if I didn't want that to happen, I should wear the veil..." (74). This image is similar to the veil and required wardrobe of women, meant to cover and subdue the women.
Temptation and promises also hold great power in this graphic novel. When Iran begins to enlist young boys in their army to attain strength in numbers, these children are filled with empty promises and fake "keys to heaven." Theses promises of paradise cost these boys their lives: "The key to paradise was for poor people. Thousands of young kids, promised a better life, exploded on the minefields with their keys around their necks" (102). This poster, advertising "You hold the key," reminds me of propaganda that could have been used to lure these young boys into battle.
This image represents the power of lies. Satrapi practically leads a double life, alternating between being herself at home and around friends and being the reserved, veiled woman the government wants to see. Lies and deceit have the power to hurt others but in this case, also have the power to save one's life. "The more time passed, the more I became conscious of the contrast between the official representation of my country and the real life of the people, the one that went on behind the walls. Our behavior in public and our behavior in private were polar opposites... This disparity made us schizophrenic" (304-305). The image represents the complete opposites Satrapi portrays through the opposite nature of black and white.
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