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Character Parallels Between O Brother Where Art Thou And The Odyssey

778 words - 4 pages

Homer’s Odyssey is the iconic story of a man’s episodic journey home. The film, O Brother Where Art Thou, is a justifiable homage to the Odyssey because of the many parallels between some of the major characters depicted in the movie and the epic poem. The movie is set in the 1930s in the state of Mississippi, changing the characters in social demeanor, but retaining their motivation and major plot points.
In the film, Odysseus’s wife, Penelope, is portrayed as Penny. She and her husband, Ulysses Everett McGill, were divorced when he was convicted for practicing law without a license and sentenced to time on a chain gang. Penny then tried to convince her daughters that he was hit by a train. ...view middle of the document...

When Odysseus finally returned home he was not immediately recognized because Athena had disguised him as a bearded beggar. O Brother, Where Art Thou makes a reference to the disguised Odysseus in a scene in which the three main characters wear false beards to enter a banquet hall, as well as through Penny’s refusal to claim Everett as her husband. In the Odyssey, Odysseus, still under the guise of a stranger, tells Penelope, “…I am a man of many sorrows.”(Homer 28). In the film, Everett and his traveling companions perform a song called “Man of Constant Sorrow”, further adding to the parallels between these men.
One of the great antiheros of the Odyssey is Polyphemus, a Cyclops as well as a giant. Big Dan Teague embodies the character of Polyphemus in O Brother Where Art Thou. Teague is a large, deep-voiced southerner with an eye-patch over one eye, a modern Cyclops in his own right. He meets Everett in a restaurant and thinks he has a shoebox full of cash when indeed it holds a toad that is thought to be a reincarnation of one of Everett’s companions. Teague lures Everett and his entourage to a secluded pasture for a picnic much like Odysseus’s encounter...

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