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Comparison Essay

By Charles Margiotta

Thousands of years ago Homers great epic poem The Odyssey was written. A

Poem about the adventures and misfortunes of Odysseus throughout his voyages around

the ancient Mediterranean Sea. In recent years, many stories and movies have been

based on the same principal as The Odyssey, but one movie in particular did a great

job in comparing the two stories, O Brother, Where Art Thou? O Brother, Where Art

Thou? is about a man who has to break out of jail to stop his wife from marrying a suitor,

and includes his audacious voyage home. These two similar tales, written with many

of the same events occurring in both allows for the works to be compared easily and


The two main characters of each story are very similar and can be almost be the

same person. Odysseus is the main character of The Odyssey; he has one son

Telemachus and a wife Penelope. Odysseus was born and raised in Ithaca an ancient

Greek Island and there he has a house, land, slaves, pigs and sheep that he cares for

greatly. On the other hand Ulysses (Odysseus’ name in Roman) Everett McGill is

married to his wife Penny and they have 7 kids and their house is in a small town in

Mississippi. Though Od. owns land, Everett does not have any land of his own. and

he also does not own any sheep pigs or slaves. Everett has a very arrogant and

dislikable personality at the beginning of his journey home but after he encounters many

problems he starts to mature and change into a better person. The same sort of change
happens to Od. When he is on his way home from the Trojan War. Od. becomes more of a

leader, however he also becomes agitated more easily by the end of his twenty-year

voyage and he also admits his pride. Od. becomes agitated when Finally returning

home, both men’s children don’t recognize them as their own fathers. One can tell

that these two characters were definitely written on the same principals and are very


During each man’s voyage he has a crew with him, he has a wife who has given

up on their husband and also the dreadful suitors. After leaving Troy, Odysseus has

many ships, and his men are loyal and respectful to him. As his journey progresses

men start to fall away and by the end of his story all of his men have been killed and he is

the only man that returns home from the long trip. Everett and his men were written

differently than in Homers version. Having Pete, and Delmar O’ Donell as all of

Everett’s crew, it is much different than the men Od. has in his group. During a brief

time in the movie a black guitarist also tours with the men, his name is Tommy Johnson.

Finally returning home, each mans wife is involved with the suitor(s) who are trying

to marry each of the two wives. Odysseus’ wife is very loyal to him; she waits twenty

long years and still doesn’t ever consider marrying one of those suitors. Penelope has to

trick the thirty suitors staying in her house but she never falls in for their trickery. Penny,

Everett’s wife is a different story, she has only become interested in one suitor who she

has actually decided to marry. While the wedding date is scheduled, Everett has to

stop the wedding from happening before it’s too late.

Odysseus and Everett also face two people in each of their own lives that are evil

at heart and will do anything to catch and kill both men. Odysseus, when he visits an
island full of Cyclops on his long voyage; he and his men are captured and put into a cave

to be eaten by the Cyclops. Odysseus escapes by stabbing the Cyclops in the eye, but

makes one huge mistake before he leaves the Island; Odysseus tells the blinded Cyclops

his name. After Od. leaves the island, the Cyclops tells his dad Poseidon King of the

Sea, of how Od. stabbed out his eye and so Poseidon vows to ruin Ods. life forever.

Poseidon whenever he has the chance makes huge problems and misfortunes for

Odysseus while he is trying desperately to get home and see his wife and son. Poseidon is

constantly chasing Od to punish him and helps in putting him in the land of Calypso.

Everett also is faced with a Cyclops figure Big Dan Teague who has only one eye; he

beats up Everett and Delmar when both men are invited to lunch. Big Dan steals their

money and they are hit in the head by a big stick, which knocks both men out. Because

Od. and his companions broke out of jail; the Warden of the jail will never give up

until he kills the three of them. The Warden who is Sheriff Cooley is a perfect example

of a figure like Poseidon, never giving up until the end.

During the journeys home both men encounter some very strange and unusual

obstacles on their voyage to get home. In The Odyssey the first stop of Odysseus and his

men is Cicones a major city not too far from Troy, they sack the city but stay to long and

Cicones regains their forces and attack and kill some of Ods. men before they leave. The

next place they visit is the land of the Lotus Eaters where some of Ods. men find flowers

on the shore of a distant land and are in love with them and cannot stop eating them until

Od. drags them away. Later, Od. visits the land of the dead and sees' Tyreseus who is

a blind prophet and tells Od. of his upcoming adventures, and the hardships he will

face if he doesn’t listen to him. After Od. and his men go by the sirens which are
beautiful women singing songs which are unbelievable and that lure in men, and they

barely make it by those women. A little while after that Od. and his men stop for

provisions on an island, where Helios’ cattle graze. Some of Ods. men kill the cattle and

now every one of Od’s. men are killed because they killed a god’s cattle. Everett faces all

of these same events and right after Everett, Pete, and Delmar had broken out of jail they

went to Pete brothers house. Staying too long at Pete’s brothers house, Everett and

two companions were almost caught by Warden Cooley. Then while driving down the

side of the road they see people getting baptized and Delmar and Pete run and get

baptized and Everett has to bring them away just like Od. did with the lotus-eaters. At

the very beginning of the movie the men encounter a black man on the railroad who is

blind and tells them a story of what they are going to encounter on their journey. Finally

again driving down the road the men hear some girls singing and they are lured in by

their great singing and they begome drunk and Pete is captured and brought in by the

bounty on their heads. Many of the unusual events each man encounters are very alike in

both stories.

After comparing these two masterpieces, the similarities between the two are

quite clear. Od. fighting his many battles put his life on the line while Everett does

the exact same. After finally returning home, both men are perfect examples of a

hero. Winning people’s and their own men’s respect and love while still fighting for the

one true love in each mans life is how any hero would want to be portrayed.