Homer's the Odyssey and 2001: a Space Odyssey Compare and Contrast Essay

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Grant Gordon
Honors English 9
February 20th 2013

Hero’s Journey: The Timeless Theme

Is there anything in this world worth dying for? Is it worth it to risk everything over and over again for something that may never even be reached? This question is an essential part of The Hero’s Journey and has been tried and tested in both Homer’s The Odyssey and 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke. Being able to see the similarities between these stories is imperative to better understand the role of the Hero’s Journey. The four most beneficial sections that relate the two stories are supernatural aid, the belly of the whale, atonement with the father, and the ultimate boon.

Supernatural aid is essential to these two story’s journeys. In Homer’s The Odyssey, the gods helped Odysseus because he was destined to return home to Ithaca to reclaim his wife and palace from the Suitors. Without the help of the gods, he surely would not have made it home. 2001: A Space Odyssey shares similar ideas. Mr. Bowman, the antagonist, was on track for Saturn because that was where humans believed extraterrestrial life was. A large monolith on the Moon sent a signal at Saturn leading humans to believe it was warning someone. Another supernatural aid was Hal, an artificial intelligence system stationed on the space ship Discovery. Although Hal was helpful at first, it almost put an end to Bowman’s existence by opening the airlock doors. In both books, the power of the supernatural aided and tested the heroes. When Hal turned against Mr. Bowman and when Odysseus had to face the Cyclops, they were both tried but proving their will and faith, they survived. The supernatural aspects played large roles in both of these books and their journeys.

Being in the belly of a whale is the last place anyone would want to be; physically or theoretically. In both situations, the characters were trapped there. While Mr. Bowman was working on his spaceship,...
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