Document Type


Date of Award



College of Liberal Arts and Behavioral Sciences (COLABS)

Degree Name

MA in English

First Advisor

Professor Michael D. Sollars


This study thoroughly examines the uncivilized human being through the characters of Gilgamesh and Enkidu in Gilgamesh, Crusoe and Friday in Robinson Crusoe, and Huck and Jim in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. These characters are selected purposively to substantiate the role of living transitional figures wrestling between the forces of nature and culture. Additionally, these individuals act out and respond to conditions in a hierarchical environment that governs their behaviors and positions. On a larger scale, they are preordained by uncontrollable forces-that of rigid social conditions, destiny, or error of judgment. The Epic of Gilgamesh portrays vividly the cantankerous nature of Gilgamesh: he is arrogant and unjust. His foil and adversary is Enkidu, who was created with beastly and animalistic traits to assuage Gilgamesh's tyranny. Similarly, Crusoe, shipwrecked on a far-off island from his native England, meets during his physical and mental confinement a man chased by cannibals. Crusoe treats Friday at first as a slave to be tamed and educated; the first word to come out of Friday's mouth is "Master." And Huck and Jim in Twain's popular novel develop a sort of brotherhood through being together on the skiff with a colorful description of places 1 2 and people along the Mississippi River. This study will take the reader on a tour to explore panoramic experiences of different human patterns placed chronologically from several cultures: Mesopotamian, English, and American, so that he/she can perceive and see the cost of becoming human. That is to say, all the characters are cornered between two extremes, nature and culture. Therefore, the traits of these characters open a rich discussion and a:gument in terms of the formation of identity. As a result, Gilgamesh, Crusoe, and Huck descend from their ivory towers to meet on common ground with Enkidu, Friday, and Jim, respectively. As a result their friendships bloom and wear away the stone and to lead to freedom. And this is the meaning of being human and achieving "the golden mean," not only in terms of freedom, but humanity as well. Methodology in this study is intended to produce from this author an authoritative voice and position. The strategy includes a close reading of the three primary texts, detailed review and analysis of significant secondary sources, and focus upon contemporary relevance.