Jan 12, 2018 in Research

Great Works


The power of myth is such that it may bear innumerable adaptations. What is actually exceptional is when somebody takes one myth and rewrites it into something exclusive whilst preserving the appeal of original. Throughout the amazing adventures, Odysseus experienced many troubles and challenges, which delayed the journey home. Throughout many centuries, there have been lots of various remakes of the well-known poem of the epic hero. Some remakes comprise poems, books, shows, and even films. One of the most widely heard of is the movie “O Brother Where Art Thou?” created by the Coen brothers. In spite of the resemblances, the movie O Brother Where Art Thou? takes a really different approach to Homer’s classic epic story of the wanderer, trying greatly to reach a long-awaited aim. Thus, this paper is meant to explain how a contemporary film captures the essence of the classical concept of the hero. The two concepts of the epic hero are similar in the poem and the movie in that a hero is defined by success and journey, but the nature of the two heroes seems quite different. The heroic portrayal of Odysseus in O Brother, Where Art Thou lacks greatness and strength. However, at the same time, the ancient concept of the hero is seen as far less emotional today due to the contemporary image of the hero, who has to demonstrate more human qualities and emotions. 

Greek Hero

In two variations of the epic poem, the epic hero Odysseus is depicted as two dissimilar yet similar human beings. Original Odysseus is forced to go struggle in the Trojan War for the entire decade, and then, the Gods forced him to wander the seas for one more decade. Odysseus was gone from home for two long decades and missed seeing own son grow up and a joy of being with the wife Penelope. Contrary to Odysseus, Everett Ulysses McGill, in the movie O Brother Where Art Thou?, was sent to Mississippi state penitentiary for several months before he was capable to run away.

Both Odysseus and Everett are extremely adventurous and independent in the essence. Also, in the original poem, Odysseus cares about own team very much. He is extremely loyal to them. It is one of the features, which makes Odysseus the genuine epic hero. He came back to rescue his men from Lotus Eaters. He also rescued other people before himself in Isle of the Cyclopes. Everett is also extremely loyal to own friends and cares for them. This is the reason why he saved Tommy from the KKK or went back to save Pete.

Odysseus was at all times famed for his capability as a thinker, a debater, and tactician rather than as a combatant. He had the ability to talk anyone's ear off, come up with whatever account he needed to get somebody to do what he wished. Throughout the poem, the readers observe Odysseus praised by other people for his strength, cunning, heart, intelligence, and bravery. So, it is possible to suppose he is not a poor example of male attractiveness the way the other undying females (Circe and Calypso) fawn over him, but Homer does not concentrate on physical over the charismatic features. Moreover, throughout the entire epic poem, Odysseus is depicted as an extremely confident person. Not merely is he confident in his capabilities as the leader and fighter, he also is confident in the overall person. He is known for the wit and his capabilities at war. If he was proud about any other part of himself, it would be these two traits.

Current Hero

There is no need to be a classics scholar to see the Coen brothers have taken some liberties with the original source. Their hero, played by Clooney, is an escaped criminal Ulysses Everett McGill, who wanders dusty side streets of Depression-era Mississippi with two unintelligent companions, looking for wealth and own wife.

The Coen brothers mix well the epic characters and themes of the primary poem. Much like a book, the film utilizes symbolism and archetypes very well. The usage of Klan master as one of the major barriers is even more effectual after an arrangement of discussion concerning devil and his presence in the film. A camera angle used in KKK scene turns crucifix on its head, so that it looks like a sign of the devil more than the holy sign intended by Klan. These tiny visual effects assist in raising the movie from ridiculousness to a quality film. Scenes with Baptists or Sirens also help to provide a film with the mythological feeling of the primary poem without compromising the poem’s general plausibility.

Ancient and Modern Concepts of a Hero

Heroes may be discovered everywhere. They have been included into the humanity in the past and present through all sorts of media, from heroes of Greek myths to heroes of current comic books. As humanity progresses, the ideas concerning the idealistic characters have kept the original image, whilst evolving into something more.

The Odyssey is one of the ancient surviving accounts about a hero. That is why, people change the original concept into dissimilar fictional media. For instance, O Brother, Where Art Thou? is more or less based on the Homer’s epic and includes lots of allusions and references to the famous tale. Both accounts are about heroic protagonist - Odysseus or Everett - who go on an epic journey to return home. Since The Odyssey is an epic poem, written in 800 B.C. by Homer, and “O Brother” is a film created in the 1930’s, written by the Coen Brothers, the interpretation differs between two tales.

As values alter and modify as time goes on, Odysseus’ features and values as the hero are different from Everett’s. In our current society, a hero is treated as always applicable to humans, no matter what. So, Everett is written as a very human character, whilst Greek hero is written as if he is more of a half god. Thus, Everett is more natural current heroic character as he demonstrates more human qualities and emotions.

Loyalty, the feature, which belongs to human beings and is desirable in heroes, is always present in Everett’s personality, making him a good heroic character. Everett’s loyalty to his friends Pete and Delmar, as observed many times in the film, permits the spectators to relate to him and see him performing beyond expectations; clearly making him a good heroic character.

In addition to staying true to the companions, Everett cares for his friends and family. Everett describes that treasure is not real, and the only ground he ran away with Delmar and Pete is due to the fact they were chained and that he required the assistance to escape. Being capable to face and tell the truth is one more crucial trait of a real hero. The degree of Everett’s capability to care is proven in unconventional and odd manners. Still, being capable to put oneself in a dangerous position only for the sake of someone else, establishes Everett as the great heroic character.


After reading the poem by Homer, it is extremely advisable to see the film O Brother Where Art Thou?, which was copied after it. Many characters are noticed in both works, and there are many shocking resemblances. Though both works share the same fundamental plot, there are some separate variations on how everything is depicted. This is most outstandingly observed in scenes with the sirens, the Lotos Eaters, the Kyklops, and the major character himself.

Like Odysseus, Everett has many flaws. For the heroic character to be flourishing in literature and movie nowadays, character’s humanity must be demonstrated. That is precisely what Everett does in the movie. Both Everett and Odysseus are only men, but readers and spectators are capable to see manifold emotions from Everett, instead of the firm and strong character of Odysseus. Between Odysseus and Everett, it is obvious to observe Everett go through character growth, having him further accomplish the potential of being a hero. Everett proves himself as a hero by exposing his emotions instead of demonstrating the strength. Everett’s abilities are put to a test, and he emerges as a current hero.

Thus, both variations of the well-known story depict the concept of a hero. However, nowadays, a hero is considered to be applicable to humans. Therefore, Everett is created as very human character, whilst Greek hero is written as if he is more of half god. Thus, in spite of the fact that Everett lacks greatness and strength, he is more natural current heroic character as he demonstrates more human qualities and emotions.

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