The Odyssey and O Brother Where Art Thou? Compare and Contrast

March 22, 2012 by LeahJ · No Comments · CLASS ESSAYS

The Odyssey and O Brother Where Art Thou?
Compare and Contrast

“O, Muse, sing in me”
There are many similarities between the epic poem by Homer, The Odyssey and the film by the Coen brothers, “O,Brother Where Art Thou?”. The share similarities in character, incidents, epic qualities and themes. On the other hand the poem and the film are quite different in their settings and time periods. While the film is humorous it does have important things to say, whereas, the poem is a dramatic story of an epic hero journeying home after many years of war.

The hero of the Odyssey is Odysseus, King of Ithaka , who journeyed to fight in the Trojan War and became a hero for coming up with the idea for the Trojan Horse. The hero of “O Brother Where Art Thou?” is Everett “Ulysses” McGill an escaped convict. They share several similarities they share similar personalities along with a run in to similar circumstances. The way they get out of these circumstances is also strikingly comparable. For example both, Everett and Odysseus have the same main goal, to get back to their families.

Both the film and the poem portray stories of adventure and obstacles. In the end of the Odysseus, Odysseus bombards into Ithaca and kills the suitors to take back his wife and home. In the film, Everett bombards into a KKK meeting to save his friend, Tommy. IN the both the film and poem, Ulysses and Odysseus disguise themselves to get an advantage over the enemy. However, these two characters do have their share of differences in the way that one, Odysseus, is religious and that Everett doesn’t believe in any gods. For the majority of the characteristics between Everett and Odysseus they could be classified as twins. Both of the characters are very adventurous while traveling alongside their un-trusted comrades. For example, Odysseus gladly ventures on the seas with all the bad winds in a bag but doesn’t trust his men enough to tell them what the bag contains. Everett goes running through the forest following the singing church goers out of curiosity but doesn’t trust his friends when they get baptized and tell him it will make him feel pure and better about himself.

Despite the many similarities, the film and the poem differ in the setting and time period. Both the characters face almost identical situations. Odysseus encounters a blind prophet known as Tiresias in the underworld while, Everett runs into a blind prophet who is propelling a railway cart. Both the prophets accurately product what is in the characters future. Although Everett and Odysseus are very alike they have several differences. The largest difference is that Odysseus is a religious man while Everett refuses to believe in the clearing of sins. Odysseus does not appreciate how the gods help him but he does accept their existence. Everett believes that having a priest dunk you under water will not clear your sins or make you feel better. Everett is more of a logical person who thinks more on the side of, the police won’t care if we’ve been cleared of our sins, while Pete and Delmar believe that now since their sins have been cleared that life will go back to normal. A possibly influential part of the text was left out in the film.

The Odyssey is a classic epic poem written in 800 BC, while “O,Brother Where Art Thou?” was made in 2000, Odysseus and Everett are curious, selfish, leaders who share a common goal. The director of O’ Brother, Where Art Thou managed to make Everett as closely related to Odysseus as he could while still making Everett stand out as a unique individual. Even the few differences between Odysseus and Everett have similarities. Odysseus has a son, Telemachus, while Everett has seven daughters, none the less they both have children that they dearly care about. O’ Brother, Where Art Thou is a well-planned, adventure movie that is perfectly modeled after The Odyssey.

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