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In Homers The Odyssey, Odysseus is portrayed as an epic hero like Everett McGill in the movie O Brother Where Art Thou; however, Odysseus role as a hero is a more aggressive and authentic one, whereas Everett McGills role is more of a common character who is portrayed as a hero by the virtue of the luck he possesses. An epic hero, defined according to Websters dictionary, is a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability extending beyond the usual or ordinary.
Odysseus is truly an epic hero; due to his experience as a fighter in the Trojan War, he possesses true heroic qualities, such as battling immortal characters and rescuing himself from the midst of the ocean. On the other hand, Everett McGill journeys with a group of three fugitives who have escaped from prison and are in the midst of a struggle to find their way home as soon as possible. Everett McGill just happens to be the wisest, only when compared to his other two partners; he is therefore known as a hero amongst the three convicts, whereas Odysseus has the potential to be a hero in any given situation.
Due to his role in The Odyssey, Odysseus can definitely be classified as an epic hero. In his journey home, Odysseus faces many intolerable obstacles that he manages to overcome with the use of heroic and powerful actions. For example, as Odysseus boards his ship and sails to the midst of the ocean towards his home, Poseidon drastically shipwrecks him, and leaves him drowning in the middle of the ocean without any help or source of communication.
As a result of Poseidons treachery, hurricane winds struck from the South and East shifting northwestOdysseus knees grew slack and his heart sickened (89). Since Odysseus was previously involved in a similar situation in the Trojan War (a war in which Odysseus and his men tricked the Trojans into thinking that a wooden horse was for real, when the Trojans came forward, Odysseus and his men were waiting to battle them there), he had gained knowledge of heroic tactics, and therefore knew how to rescue himself from the sinking ship. Clearly, Odysseus uses his prior heroic experience from the time of the Trojan War to help rescue himself from being exterminated in the middle of the sea. In addition to this situation, Odysseus further portrays his heroic actions when he battles the immortal Cyclops Monster. Midway through his journey home, Odysseus comes face to face with the one eyed giant at his cave; he must either surrender to this giant or do the impossible, and try to battle his way out the cave. Odysseus, once again, having gained all of the necessary knowledge regarding battle tactics from the Trojan War, manages to plan out a strategy to stick the sword into the Cyclops only eye and escape from the Cyclops. Odysseus plans to first drunken the Cyclops; he offers the Cyclops to try some wineto wash down the scraps of his men. Odysseus does so, and in the end blinds the Cyclops, and escapes from the cave unharmed, leaving the Cyclops wheezing in pain(157). All in all, as proven by his courageous acts, Odysseus is always ready to take new challenges, and never loses faith, and therefore possesses the base qualities of a true hero. Not only is he a physical and mental hero, but he is also a verbal heroin other words, his knowledge and ability to gracefully speak in public, plays a role in his classification as an epic hero. For instance Odysseus portrays his art of public speech in front of all of the royal nobilities at King Alkinoos court. As he discusses his experience as a hero in the Trojan War, during his speech he recalls Odysseus with massive hand drew his rich mantle down over his browhow skillfully he dried them when the song came to a pause (127). Finally, it can be derived by his numerous capabilities and actions, that Odysseus becomes a complete profound epic hero in The Odyssey.
Although Everett McGill is not as courageous as Odysseus, he too is portrayed as an epic hero in the movie O Brother Where Art Thou. Unlike Odysseus though, Everett McGills heroic traits are not innate; instead; he is a hero by luck. In simpler words, McGill is viewed as a hero by comparison only. For example, in McGills case, it does not take much skill to escape from prison and journey home especially with the help of two comradesa situation in which each one of them can help the other. Yet, it takes much more courage and valor to journey home unaccompanied, and face life-threatening obstaclessuch as being shipwrecked or being forced to battle with a giant monsteras in Odysseus case. In addition, another point that differentiates between the heroic aspects of McGill and Odysseus is the fact that McGill lacks a talent in the art of speakinga talent that is definitely possessed by Odysseus; Odysseus art of public speech further signifies him as an authentic genuine hero by his skills rather than by being lucky. McGill is not a public speaker, but he carries the talent for deceiving use of language, making him seem more like a buffoon or clown. Everett McGill never makes a public speech regarding his accomplishments, while on the other hand, Odysseus often goes in public venues and speaks of his great accomplishments as a hero. Just as Odysseus has, an epic hero must have the ability to make a formal speech before his/her people, to assure his people that everything is under control, and to update the people on his latest accomplishmentssomething that McGill almost never does. Therefore, when compared to Odysseus, Everett McGill would not be viewed as a true hero; rather, he is distinguished as a hero when he is compared to his comrades, who are not as bright and thus make his modest intelligence shine more brightly in comparison. his great strengthextenan Lick and fortune play on cops, required much
Clearly, as exemplified by his experiences and accomplishments, Odysseus definitely qualifies as a true epic hero due to his great strengthextending beyond the ordinary (Websters Dictionary), whereas McGill only is portrayed so, because of the role luck and fortune play on his side. Evidently, Odysseus actions during the Trojan War, his journey home, and his encounter with Cyclops, required much more effort, than those that Everett McGill engaged in during his journey. Everett McGill, on the other hand, qualifies as a hero only when compared to his partners on the voyage, who did not qualify as a hero whatsoever. One must keep in mind, however, that both characters are definitely heroes, although one more innately than the other. McGill is recognized as a hero amid the three convicts, whereas Odysseus has the potential to be a hero in any given situation, at any given time.
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