The Odyssey and O Brother, Where Art Thou: Two Relevant Pieces?

Topics: Odyssey, Odysseus, Homer Pages: 5 (1862 words) Published: April 25, 2011
The Odyssey and O Brother, Where Art Thou: Two Relevant Pieces?
Time has not become the conqueror for the classical epic poem The Odyssey. For the past 2,500 years it has been turning its pages for many people all around the world, classifying it as the Western literary tradition. Even in the 21st century The Odyssey is still depicting its prominence when the film O Brother, Where Art Thou was directed in 2000 by loosely portraying the epic. The Coen Brothers’ film O Brother, Where Art Thou mirrors themes, motifs, and symbols from Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey. Both creative works recount the twists and turns of a man’s journey home. But was it a relevant successful relation between the two? I tend to think so. The movie O Brother, Where Art Thou is strikingly similar to Homer’s The Odyssey in both plot and character description.

Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey battles internal and external conflict to take part in the Trojan War. The main character Odysseus departs for the war and leaves his wife and child behind. Ten years after the war, Odysseus retraces his steps back home. By that time, his son Telemachus is twenty and living with his mother Penelope in Ithaca. His mother has to deal with the suitors, who are boisterous and set in their ways that she should agree to marriage. Athena, the goddess of wisdom, pilots his way for his voyage back home and persuades his son to start

searching for him. Odysseus embarks on many turmoils during his homebound voyage. When he has reached home he identifies himself to his wife and son. He fights for his wife and claims the throne (Borade). “Poseidon has struck their well-rigged ship on the open sea with gale winds and crushing walls of waves, and only a few escape, swimming, struggling out of the frothing surf to reach the shore, their bodies crusted with salt but buoyed up with joy as they plant their feet on solid ground again, spared a deadly fate. So joyous now to her the sight of her husband, vivid in her gaze, that her white arms, embracing his neck would never for a moment let him go…” (The Odyssey, Book 23, Lines 263-272)

The producing team of the Coen Brothers’ created the comedic film O Brother, Where Art Thou. The plot is set in the south during the Depression. Ulysses Everett McGill and two others are serving time together in prison. Everett knows where a million dollar treasure is hidden and the three manage to escape; however, a stranger soon warns them that they'll find treasure, but it is not exactly what they are looking for. As Everett and his partners hit the road, they happen to encounter many obstacles while traveling on their voyage (IMDb). “You seek a great fortune, you three who are now in chains. You will find a fortune, though it will not be the one you seek. But first... first you must travel a long and difficult road, a road fraught with peril. Mm-hmm. You shall see thangs, wonderful to tell. You shall see a... a cow... on the roof of a cotton house, ha. And, oh, so many startlements. I cannot tell you how long this road shall be, but fear not the obstacles in your path, for fate has vouchsafed your reward. Though

the road may wind, yea, your hearts grow weary, still shall ye follow them, even unto your salvation.” (O Brother, Where Art Thou) Even in the setting, the directors hit the nail on the head with comparing Homer’s epic poem with O Brother, Where Art Thou. The Coen Brothers’ produce the movie with the setting of the Great Depression in 1937 in the deep south roots of Mississippi. The main character Ulysses Everett McGill is on his journey home to find his wife, Penny, and confess his love for her. Meanwhile, in the epic The Odyssey, Odysseus is doing the same as well, trying to make it back from the war, returning to his homeland to reunite with his child and wife. When looking at both of these pieces, one will find similarities and symbolisms corresponding to one another. O Brother, Where Art Thou may be loosely portraying The...

Cited: Borade, Gaynor. "Short Summary of the Odyssey." Buzzle Web Portal: Intelligent Life on the Web. 21 Apr. 2009 < odyssey.html>.
J.B. Hainsworth. The Classical Review, New Series, Vol. 28, No. 1 (1978), pp. 144-145
Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Classical Association
"O Brother, Where Art Thou? -." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 21 Apr. 2009 <,_Where_Art_Thou%3F>.
O Brother, Where Art Thou. Dir. Joel Coen. Perf. George Cloony. Universal Pictures, 2000.
Prins, Matthew. "Brothers ' odyssey." The Christian Century 118.10 (March2001): 31.Academic OneFile. Gale. P.H. Welshimer Library. 2 Apr. 2009 
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