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How Legacy Relates to Communication across Cultures

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Works of literature and mythology can be considered as special sources where collective experience of humanity is kept. Both The Tempest and Epic of Gilgamesh explore the theme of legacy, although they were created in different epochs. Considering the topic of cross-cultural communication through the characters of the two works, it is worth saying that their past influences their fate and the way they communicate with their opposites. Past sins and faults contribute to a present failure. At the same time, legacy is not something that divides people, but also something that helps them understand each other and find a common touch.

The Epic of Gilgamesh is probably one of the most enigmatic and complex works for today’s readers because the morals and social norms described in it are far from modern understanding. Gilgamesh’s legacy is dual, he is half god half man, so he combines human mind with divine might and power. It is worth saying that divine for the Babylonian culture does not mean good or pure. So, as a hero, Gilgamesh is powerful but cruel in some cases. Hence, Enkidu is created as his antipode who can potentially overcome Gilgamesh. Enkidu’s legacy is quite different, because he is half human, half animal. He lives his life among wild animals and does not have contact with people. When these two heroes meet, they suddenly realize that, despite their different legacy, they have much in common - they are equals and brothers. “In the silence of the people, they began to laugh and clutched each other in their breathless exaltation” (The Epic of Gilgamesh 24). By taking Enkidu as his brother he learns from him, and, in the context of the book, this can be called a cross-cultural communication. Although he has a divine nature, his friend’s death makes him understand that humans are mortal. He becomes vulnerable when he gets this human experience and learns what fear is.

Speaking about Prospero, a character of Tempest, he is a wizard, so he has to communicate with people across cultures and does not always succeed in doing so. At the beginning of the play, he does not understand people and their feelings and looks down on them. Due to his legacy, he is self-important and conceited, and believes that he has the right to manipulate people’s lives. However, in the course of his interaction with people he becomes more humane and accepts part of their legacy. He realizes that love, devotion, self-sacrifice and other human traits make the world wonderful.

So, exchange of experience leads to the fact that Prospero now starts trusting people, stops using his sorcery against them and punishing them. On the contrary, he rewards them and claims that all negative experiences were part of the learning process. He refuses to use magic in the future because his nature is transformed. He understands that magic is able to do harm, but the human mind and heart are more powerful than witchcraft. He says: “Unless I be relieved by prayer, which pierces so that it assaults mercy itself, and frees all faults. As you from crimes pardoned be, let your indulgence set me free” (The Tempest 171).

Over all, both Gilgamesh and Prospero are lonely at the beginning, because, due to their legacy, they are different from the rest of the people. This makes them avoid close communication and trust. However, as a part of communication across cultures, they get a new positive experience of discovering human nature inside them. So, by the end of the books, each of them has undergone spiritual transformation and has realized the truth about the human world and their place in this world. Their new knowledge is acquired through interactions which are painful but productive.

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