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Western Texts And Modern Beliefs

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Western Texts and Modern Beliefs

People have placed their ideas in and explained their culture through literature since the first recorded literary work. As societal beliefs have changed, literature has reflected these beliefs in the stories they tell. Despite the differences, many literary elements have remained virtually unchanged. The hero, for example, has been a major part in texts throughout history. Great early western texts such as The Epic of Gilgamesh (1200 BCE) and the Odyssey (800 BCE) were based entirely around the hero. And even today, films such as Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, hailed as one of the greatest works of modern-day cinema, involves the hero in a more modernized role. Though the hero (or heroes) is not as easily seen as in other works of the past, the defining elements are there. The hero can be explained as a phenomenon in literature because similarities can be seen in writings from every historical period.

One of the greatest hero tales over written is The Odyssey, because the defining elements are clearly visible. The hero, Odysseus, travels to many lands on his journey home. Through the peoples Odysseus meets, Homer depicts all of the human wrongdoings, such as gluttony, apathy, deceit, and ignorance. He portrays the Greeks as civilized and intelligent, as opposed to the uncivilized, disgusting people like the Cyclops. Since Odysseus has been gone for so long, his son has no father to raise him, and his wife has suitors constantly seeking her in marriage. Social order has been disrupted, and must be restored by a hero.

More modern forms of heroism can be seen in Pulp fiction. There are three heroes, Jules and Vincent, low-rent hitmen, and Butch, a boxer. Having three heroes clearly portrays how writing has changed from the texts of the past, but the characters still share the same traits as those created long ago.

Heroes have a sense of justice and having the right to interpret and enforce justice is what makes a hero. The Epic of Gilgamesh illustrates a very simple sense of justice in the idea that the hero, King Gilgamesh, has god-given strength, and because he is a powerful being, he has the right to destroy evil just because it is evil. Odysseus takes justice into his own hands when he kills the suitors trying to marry his wife. According to ancient Greek beliefs, it was only just to take revenge on anyone who disgraces you or your property. In Pulp Fiction, Butch, and his enemy, Marsellus, are captured by redneck rapists during a brawl. Butch has the opportunity to escape free from harm, but instead opts to save Marsellus from the unspeakable acts. This kind of feat can be considered inspired by a sense of justice, because from a man's standpoint, no man should have that done to him. Though Butch is a dishonest man, the heroism can be found in that he disregarded any prejudices and helped a fellow man, albeit a gangster.

The two early western texts express a firm belief in gods. There is a sort of code of conduct, a contract with the gods. Doing as the gods say and showing hospitality and respect to others who show it in return will allow favor from the gods, and in turn, they will protect you from harm. Odysseus abided by the rules and was able to complete his journey with aid from the gods. Pulp Fiction is comparative to western texts in this way. Jules witnesses a miracle and changes his ways. This departure from "the life" can represent the idea that respect and belief in God can lead to a much better life. Vincent ridicules Jules for his decision and blows off the so-called miracle, and later falls victim to Butch's gunfire.

In both Gilgamesh and the Odyssey, one of the major goals of the heroes is to make a name for themselves by completing great tasks. Gilgamesh travels great distances to defeat Humbaba, the ruler of the forest. With no justifiable reason to fight and kill him, he really wanted to be recognized for the great task of defeating this fierce opponent. Odysseus earns a name for himself through his great skills with a bow and his tactical skill he uses

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