Jan 25, 2018 in Analysis


The two knights, Arcite and Palamon, both soldiers from Thebes, were close cousins who were sworn brothers. They were captured in war and imprisoned together in a tower in Athens. Palamon noticed the beautiful Emelye on the courtyard and immediately fell in love with her. His compatriot Arcite, noticing Palacon’s new fascination and hearing him speak of her aloud investigated and discovered the woman in the courtyard, immediately falling in love with her as well. The men quarreled over the love of the woman and their friendship was ruined. Sometime later, Arcite was released on condition that he would be killed if he ever returned to Athens.

The question of which of the two men was the most fortunate has been widely discussed, with some citing different factors as key to ones advantages. However, taking everything into consideration, I believe neither of the two was luckier than the other. In fact, I believe that the two ‘brother’ had it even worse off than they were before, with no obvious winner.

First of all, in different ways, the two cousins represented everything that a knight ought to be: they were sworn under the oath of brotherhood, which created a stronger bond similar to that of blood brothers. This relationship was strong as everybody regularly complemented them for being noble and honorable knights. This kind of bond is hard to maintaining leave alone establish one between individuals. Fortunately, they were able to build this friendship. Alas, due to the feuding between the two ‘brothers’, this connection was destroyed and they are left without the company and companionship of one another, one they could never establish between Emelye and either one of them.

Secondly, once both of them fall in love, they describe their love as a wound that reaches their heart

Both men enter into a state of great suffering as none of them can have what they want.  The fact that they both share a common affection towards the same woman is also frustrating. Additionally, once they were separated, they moan and groan as each of them is convinced that the other has a greater advantage with Emelye. The truth is, none of them is worse off judging by their constricting circumstances. Judging from these circumstances, it is clear none of they had it better off.

The values and ideals of honor and loyalty was an important aspect of men back in 20th century and beyond. These aspects were the essence of manhood and often than not was the subject of most feuds. Unfortunately, the concepts of honor, loyalty and valor are long lost. In the current world, money is the greatest motivator and the source of all evil. We see star players quit their draft team in search of more money; and women getting married for money rather than for love. Loyalty in today’s society is laughable, especially after considering almost 60% of marriages end in divorce and 90% of them have a cheating spouse.  

Personally, I like to think that I do possess some elements of honor

However, no one is perfect. In today’s contemporary world, one is forced to adapt to prevailing circumstances, which in most times are not the most upright alternatives. In the old days, honor was the primary purpose of life. No one cared how much money one brought in or what king of house one lived in; as long as one earned respected from his peers, which was more than enough. Unfortunately, the modern world is subject to many different fundamentals, where honor is not regarded as a significant element. For my part, I would like to realize a greater level of achievement through embracing a greater degree of honor. Unfortunately, the present world is not that accommodating of this line of thought.

This vivid portrait painted of one of the most striking characters in the passage reveals an interesting and audacious personality in the form of the wife. We learn of the wife’s ostentatious dressing, lifestyle and bold character. She is not particularly beautiful and is perceived to be vivacious and forceful. Her bright clothes and sophisticated head-dress are ostentations rather than show of elegance. The effect of such behavior is perhaps to popularize herself and her riches, rather than the attempt of uncharacteristic finesse. Of her personal life, we learn that she has had five different husbands in the past, and that three of them were old men. Additionally, she had a tendency of trying to dominate all of them, only to find frustration in achieving this with her fourth and fifth husbands.

From the above revelations, we learn that she was not a good person, leave alone a good wife

She is a manipulative and opportunistic character that only cared about herself. She is a conniving individual who constantly devised ways of making her husband her slave and debtor.  Additionally, she would solicit money from her former partners in exchange for “bele chose” (sex), threatening to sell herself to other men who would lavish more than she received from her marriage. All though she did endure cruelty from her fifth husband, this does not excuse her actions and behavior as this are all elements of a bad wife.

O Brother, Where art Thou is a movie that stands out as one of the Coen brothers’ most generous, optimistic and delightful pictures. How they manage to that without having a solid plot or story line is something of a miracle. Published sometime before 600 BC, the Odyssey is one of the best known and marvelously creative works of ancient literature. To further accentuate its remarkableness, numerous works of art have been inspired by Homer’s epic tale, one of them being O Brother, Where Art Thou?  

The main theme the brothers promote relating to the Odyssey is that of religion

Religion is primarily one of the tools Ulysses uses to search for answers in the movie. The writers/directors use biblical references to add significance and structure to their work. It is important for this inclusion as the audience is able to witness characters that seek meaning to their lives through greed, redemption and exclusion. However, through their journey, they find themselves becoming part of a warped detraction of a religious Christian worldview.  The Coen brothers depict characters who seek answers and redemption through cultic practices through mockery. For instance, when the singing congregation passes the three convict, Everett comment s, “they must be searching for answers”. This phrase is repeated several times in the film; becoming key in the structure of the story.

The film O Brother Where Art Thou is cleverly based on the famous narrative The Odyssey by the well-known Homer. However, the movie has a few distinctive differences from the original work, including the role Odysseus plays in both works. Although he was a great character and war hero, the movie paint a picture of a different person; one that was a criminal.

The writers/directors presented this different portrait of the Greek hero to illustrate the concept of constant running or escape from dire circumstances. The movie is set back in the Great depression era where the main characters are escaping from jail. At the time, criminal activity was widespread and criminals were constantly hunted down. Ulysses is running from the police who cause him a lot of distress, much like Odysseus’s journey. Even though he was not running from anyone, the gods did cause him an awful lot of trouble.  The character was portrayed as a criminal to illustrate the concept of hardship and difficulty one endures when in a position where no one is on your side due to the position they occupy in the world.


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