Hero's Journey in O, Brother Where Art Essay

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Hero's Journey in O, Brother! Where Art Thou? And The Lion King

The journey home may, at times, be complicated and met with obstacles that must be overcome. O, Brother! Where Art Thou?, the 2000 film directed by Joel Cohen, depicts one man's journey to get back to his family after being made part of a chain gang in rural Mississippi during the 1930s . Similarly, the animated Disney picture, The Lion King, released in 1994, depicts a young Simba's quest to return to his home and restore order, eventually regaining his rightful place as king. O, Brother! Where Art Thou? And The Lion King explore the protagonist's journey home and the obstacles that must be overcome in order for them to achieve their goals.

The hero's journey is often characterized by a series of steps that must be completed in order to attain a goal and aid the transformation of an individual from everyman to hero. Usually divided into three distinct stages, including the departure, initiation, and return, the hero's journey is complex and forces the hero to face, and overcome, several trials that will determine if he is worthy of the journey. The departure occurs when the hero receives information that sets him on his journey, the initiation are the trials he must endure and overcome, and the return begins once he has attained his goal ("The Heroic Monomyth).

O, Brother! Where Art Thou? follows Ulysses Everett McGill, Pete Hogwallop, and Delmar O'Donnell, played by George Clooney, John Turturro, and Tim Blake Nelson respectively, after they escape from a chain gang at Parchman Farm. McGill springs into action upon receiving news that his wife is to be married to another man within four days. McGill escapes from the chain gang, along with Hogwallop and O'Donnell who are tethered to him, and sets out on his journey. Though their initial escape is successful and they manage to get away from the rest of the chain gang, they miss an opportunity to hitch a ride on a train only to be aided by a blind man, who appears to have some insight into the future. This man provides them with the initial guidance they need to continue with their journey. Because a hero's journey cannot be completed without the hero first proving that they are worthy, the group must overcome trials and tribulations. The most important trial they must endure is to avoid capture since they are on the run from the law. This theme is carried throughout the film and is interwoven with other trials. For example, the group must escape after being cornered in a burning barn, attain supplies to aid them on their way, save their friend Tommy Johnson from the KKK who is going to lynch him, and clear their names so that they are no longer pursued by the law. They must also avoid distractions, such as the three women who seduce them, a common mythological trope, and though they are led astray by greed and curiosity, they regain focus and return to their journey. Though McGill's initial quest is to return to his family before his…

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Works Cited

Cohen, Joel, dir. O, Brother! Where Art Thou? Touchstone Pictures/Universal Pictures, 2000.


"The Heroic Monomyth." ThinkQuest. Web. Accessed 18 April 2011.

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