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Is it possible for an ancient Greece hero and an escapee from prison to be seen in the same light? At first glance, one would say that they are from two different realms and never be considered the same, but with closer examination, the two could be considered kindred spirits. Looking at the movie, O’ Brother, Where Art Thou, in comparison to the Odyssey, the two exist in very different settings, but follow the same path. “it just sort of occurred to us after we’d gotten into it somewhat that it was a story about someone going home, and sort of episodic in nature, and it kind of evolved into that.
It’s very loosely and very sort of unsuriously based on The Odyssey.”, stated the Coens, writers of O’ Brother Where Art Thou, when asked about the similarities. This can be seen in many different aspects of the movie. With this said, the statement “Never judge a book by its cover,” has never held more truth.
One similarity is that of the Cyclops. This is evident when looking at the Cyclops in the Odyssey and Big Dan Teague in O’ Brother Where Art Thou?.The first in comparing the two would be the physical traits that the two possess, each one has only one eye. The encounters between the “Cyclops’s” and the main characters are also parallel. Odysseus, the main character of the “Odyssey” and Ulysses, the main character of “O’ Brother Where Art Thou”, both begin in a place of peacefulness and then are brutally attacked.
Odysseus and his men were sitting and relaxing enjoying a great feast when they were taken over by the Cyclops. Similarly, Ulysses was eating a meal with his friend at a restraint when they ran into Big Dan T and taken out to a field and attacked. Both men were inclined to fight back to defend themselves, but in the end were defeated.
Additionally, each story gives its own versions of the Lotus Easters. The Odyssey describes this as eating the fruit of the lotus makes the memories of the past, the desire of the homeland, and the purpose of the voyage endured, as no longer important. When Ulysses’ friend is baptized in the movie, this was showing a rebirth and thinking in a new light. In the Odyssey, Odysseus and his men come to the land of the Lotus-Eaters, where they eat the fruit and become overcome and drawn to it. This then led to their mindless obsession to the fruit and all else became a thought of the past. The parallel between the two compares the fruit and the baptism at a new beginning and new way of thinking.
Perhaps the strongest similarity between the “Odyssey” and “O’ Brother Where Art Thou?”, comes with the comparison between Odysseus and Ulysses. With parallels between the two, they could almost be classified as twins. Not only do the meanings of the names of the two characters mean the same, but the stories both revolve around them men and the situations they encounter on their journey. They both had to escape to begin their journey; Odysseus from the monsters island, and Ulysses from prison. They were both very intelligent men with a great verbal ability. Everett has a very arrogant and dislikable personality at the beginning of his journey, but after he encounters several problems he begins to mature and become a better person. A similar change happens to Odysseus when he begins his journey home from the Trojan War. Odysseus becomes a better leader even though he becomes agitated very easily by the end of his twenty-yearjourney, he ultimately is able to admit his pride.
As can be seen in several aspects, the “Odyssey” and “O’ Brother Where Art Thou?”, there are many similarities between the two. From characters, to places, and even the bond between people, it is apparent that two stories set in two different times, can be paralleled in a very simplistic way.
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