Evan Almighty: an Unexpected Hero’s Journey
Odysseus is an ancient Grecian hero who fought in the Trojan War. After the war ends, he goes on a lengthy twenty-year journey that keeps him from returning to his home, Ithaca. His adventures are transcribed into The Odyssey, an epic poem written by Homer during the eight century. In The Odyssey, Odysseus follows a twelve-step method of heroism penned by mythologist Joseph Campbell. The ‘Hero’s Journey’ is the basic outline of a story in which the hero faces trials and tribulations before being rewarded, mentally or physically, at the conclusion of their journey. On his perilous mission to get home, Odysseus manages to anger both gods and mythical beings with his pride and general lack of common sense. Even so, he manages to successfully complete each step of the ‘Hero’s Journey’, making The Odyssey an ideal model of the twelve step process. Evan Almighty is an excellent example of the ‘Hero’s Journey’ because the movie shows Evan Baxter completing various steps of the ‘Hero’s Journey’ such as the Call to Adventure, the Refusal of the Call, the Ordeal, the Resurrection, and the Return with Elixir, as is done in The Odyssey. With the completion of these steps, Evan Almighty is a prime illustration of the ‘Hero’s Journey.’
To begin with, Evan Almighty symbolizes the ‘Hero’s Journey’ because of Evan Baxter’s Call to Adventure and his Refusal of the Call. In The Odyssey, Odysseus is called to fight in the Trojan War. Paris of Troy had just stolen Helen from Menelaus. In ancient Greece, a stunt of that nature is an act of war. Because of Greece’s lack of a central government, all city-states are called to war if one of them declares war on an enemy. When Menelaus declares war on Troy, Odysseus has to go to war. He initially refuses his call to fight in the war because his son has just been born a mere ten days earlier. He also does not want to fight a petty man’s war. In Evan Almighty, Evan Baxter is called by God to build an ark to save animals and people from a flood. Since Evan Almighty is set in a modern time period, Evan does not believe that God is serious about the whole situation. Evan says that God is crazy, and goes on with his life as a U.S. congressman. As the day progresses, Evan is plagued by animals and building supplies for an ark. He starts to see God as various people around him, such as a police officer, a fellow congressman, and a taxi driver. Evan finally realizes that God is serious about him building an ark and he gives in, deciding to build the ark with God’s instructions. The Odyssey and Evan Almighty correlate with the ‘Hero’s Journey’ because both Odysseus and Evan Baxter have to embark on a journey toward uncertain situations. Both men have to leave the lives they have always known, and are unwilling to do so at first, completing the Call to Adventure and Refusal of the Call in the ‘Hero’s Journey.’
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In addition to completing the Call to Adventure and the Refusal of the Call, Evan Almighty is a prime example of the ‘Hero’s Journey’ because Evan Baxter completes his Ordeal with a nudge from God. In The Odyssey, Odysseus completes his Ordeal by traveling into the Underworld and speaking to Tiresias, a blind prophet who Circe recommended him to see. Tiresias tells Odysseus that he and his men should not eat the holy cows of Helios when they come upon the sun god’s island. If Odysseus’ men eat the cows, he travels back to Ithaca alone. If not, everyone lives. After listening to Tiresias’ advice, Odysseus heads to the surface world, heeding the blind prophet’s words. In Evan Almighty, Evan has to go to Congressman Long’s meeting to sign a bill that hurts national parks. Earlier in the movie, Evan Baxter is seen trying to hide his nomadic beard and a robe given to him by God. While in the meeting, Evan’s business clothes disappear and he stands before the committee in his robe, wild beard running free. A light appears, shining on his face, and animals gather around him in pairs. Congressmen stand in disbelief as Evan reveals God’s plan to flood the area on September twenty-second at midday. The congressmen do not believe Evan and start to laugh at him, calling him a big fat joke. Evan gets fired from his job and he is no longer a congressman. The Odyssey and Evan Almighty are first-rate illustrations of the ‘Hero’s Journey’ because both Odysseus and Evan descend into situations that determine their futures.
Moreover, Evan Almighty is a superlative example of the ‘Hero’s Journey because Evan experiences Resurrection and the Return with Elixir. In The Odyssey, Odysseus faces Resurrection when he returns home with the help of Athena. He enters his home and succeeds in a Trial by Bow, winning back his wife. With help from his son, Telemachus, they slaughter the suitors who plagued his home for twenty years. He experiences Return with Elixir when all of the suitors are dead. Odysseus’ slaughter of the suitors allows him to again rule his home. In Evan Almighty, Evan Baxter faces Resurrection when the flood God promised crashes down on the Washington D.C. area. People crowd onto the ark, realizing that Evan Baxter is not the nut they made him out to be. Animals and people sail on the ark toward the Capitol and skid to a stop before damaging the building. The movie portrays the Return with Elixir with the revelation of Long’s scheme to sell off federal lands to private investors and Evan being reinstated as a U.S. Congressman. The Odyssey and Evan Almighty correlate with the ‘Hero’s Journey because the tide turns towards the heroes’ favor and they triumph over evil. After their large ordeals, both men return to their normal lives with a new purpose in life.In conclusion, Evan Almighty correlates with the ‘Hero’s Journey’ because the movie shows Evan Baxter completing various steps of the ‘Hero’s Journey’ such as the Call to Adventure, the Refusal of the Call, the Ordeal, the Resurrection, and the Return with Elixir, as is done in The Odyssey. The Odyssey is a pristine example of the ‘Hero’s Journey,’ and Evan’s challenges mirror those of Odysseus’. Both Evan and Odysseus go through journeys that test their wills with mental and physical obstacles. With each obstacle, the heroes are rewarded in some way, whether being reinstated as a congressman or reigning over the kingdom of Ithaca.