- Term Papers, Book Reports, Research Papers and College Essays

Self Control in the Odyssey and O Brother Where Art Thou

Essay by   •  February 26, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,040 Words (5 Pages)  •  2,307 Views

Essay Preview: Self Control in the Odyssey and O Brother Where Art Thou

Report this essay
Page 1 of 5

Self Control, a Problem of the Ages

A lack of self control is very evident in O Brother Where Art Thou? as well as in The Odyssey, these stories portray how engrained this problem is, and are evidence to how long lack of control has been pervasive in society. These two sources parallel an idea, however the actual events that take place are much different. The numerous events that show lack of self control occur in both the book and the film, however they are revealed in different fashions. O Brother Where Art Thou? is a modern retelling of the classic book, The Odyssey by Homer. Lack of self control is illustrated in both sources numerous times, and seems to referr to how it was a problem, and still continues to be a problem.

The occurrence of the sirens in The Odyssey also is portrayed in the movie O Brother Where Art Thou ?. The portrayal of this scene by Homer occurred as Odysseus sailed to Helios's island, and the sirens attempted to enchant him to stop his ship, and in turn, his overall journey. The crew had their ears stuffed with beeswax, however Odysseus was anchored "lashed by ropes on the mast" (912.195) at his own request, having been told to do so by a prophet, Teiresias. While tied up, he tried to convince his crew mates to stop, even though he knew it was the last thing he should do, displaying a sense of recklessness and powerlessness over himself. In O Brother Where Art Thou? this scene is modernized. There are beautiful women, instead of women with a beautiful song, which seduce the men and make them fall asleep by drinking too much liquor. These are both examples of how a lack of self control can lead to unintended actions and how it has been a problem from before Homer's time to the current age.

When Odysseus finally reaches Helios' island in The Odyssey his men show a destructive lack of self control. The crew is told by Odysseus not to harm the cattle of the sun god when they arrive on his island. Odysseus won't even allow his shipmates off the boat until they "vowed they'd never harm the herds" (280.329). This is a promise broken however, and the men pay dearly for this most grave mistake, rather than "to die of hunger" (281.368) as they so exaggerated, "slaughtered and skinned the cattle" (282.386). This shows that they did not control their desire for food and listen to what their leader said, but instead, disobeyed, thinking not of the consequences but of the rewards. This scene was paralleled in O Brother Where Art Thou, however the cattle were not those of the sun god. The three main characters, Everett, Pete and Delmar were in a car with a bank robber, Baby Face, or simply George Nelson, in a high speed chase with the police on their tail. George Nelson started shooting at the police to help them escape, however, when they drove by a farm, Nelson turned his attention from the police to the cows, and not heeding Delmar's warning "Oh, George, not the livestock" shot the cows. He completely lost all control and he stopped concentrating on the most important thing, escape from the police, in order to kill a few cows. These examples are both examples of things that are not common in life, however they are meant to show how people can make any type of mistakes and lose control of themselves in critical situations, even in situations that are potentially life threatening.

Odysseus's conflict, the force he is battling, the force that drives him to near ruin, was the fault of none other than himself. Odysseus's sole cause for not having the ability to return home after the war as he had



Download as:   txt (5.8 Kb)   pdf (88.7 Kb)   docx (11 Kb)  
Continue for 4 more pages »
Only available on
Citation Generator

(2011, 02). Self Control in the Odyssey and O Brother Where Art Thou. Retrieved 02, 2011, from

"Self Control in the Odyssey and O Brother Where Art Thou" 02 2011. 2011. 02 2011 <>.

"Self Control in the Odyssey and O Brother Where Art Thou.", 02 2011. Web. 02 2011. <>.

"Self Control in the Odyssey and O Brother Where Art Thou." 02, 2011. Accessed 02, 2011.