What values are expressed in Gilgamesh and Hamlet. Also, how did the values change over time?

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sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Gilgamesh and Hamlet both, strength and power are both valued in the beginning.  Gilgamesh and Ekindu have the strength to defeat their enemies and establish their reputations.  Gilgamesh seeks the power of immortal life, to continue to achieve beyond the mortal failings of his friend.  Hamlet seeks the strength to avenge his father's death, and Claudius seeks the power of the throne.

However, all of these characters realize, over time, that the beauty of a life lies in the living of it.  Gilgamesh accepts that he lived fully, completed his journey, and that his "immortality" must come in the telling of his tale.  He accepts that neither strength nor power are ever-lasting.  Hamlet sits in the graveyard, in Act V, and examines the skull, recognizing finally that life is meant to come full circle, and that he should have been living it, rather than struggling for strength.  Upon Gertrude's death, Claudius accepts that his relentless search for power has caused the death of his love.  He search was meaningless, as was Hamlet's.  In both stories, the value of life for life's sake is finally emphasized in the end.

Read the study guide:
The Epic of Gilgamesh

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