The Tragic Lives Of Michael Corleone And John The Savage: Though The E Essay

yes Of Joseph CampbellBrendan Tyo
People in literature, theater, and real life can all be viewed as tragic heroes. In order to fully understand this effect, one must observe what a man named Joseph Campbell calls the hero circle. This circle consists of specific significant stops in the hero’s journey. John the Savage of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Michael Corleone of The Godfather, both fit into Mr. Campbell’s model of a heroic journey. John and Michael Corleone share similar heroic lives at their special births, small battles, and boon stages of their journeys.

Both John and Corleone are born with a certain kind of power as a result of their detachment from the world that they can never fully know. John has a certain unique kind of power as son of the Director of the very society that alienates him. John shows his surprise when he discovers the truth about his father, He came in at once . . . fell on his knees in front of the Director, and said in a clear voice: ‘My father’ (Huxley 151). The combination of the Director as his father and his birth as a member of the savage community spark John’s detachment from the London society. Corleone’s desire to break away from the family’s crime business is always overcome by his birth into it. On J. Geoff Malta’s The Godfather internet fan page, Corleone is quoted as saying, Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in (Malta 3). This illustrates the merciless undertow of the family’s organized crime business. Corleone’s birth into the family continues to plague him until the very end of his journey. Both John and Corleone’s births served as starting points for their tragic stories. While John’s lack of choice of destiny detaches him from the London society, Corleone’s lack of desire and passion for his occupation alienates him from the society of the family business. Though Corleone is discontent with the concrete outcomes of his birth, John is also an outsider as a result of his own. While John and Corleone both had similar births, they also faced comparable small battles in their journeys.

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John and Corleone both face the death of family members as tests or small battles in their journeys. John deals with the painful loss of his mother when Linda passes away. Huxley illustrates John’s devastation in Chapter 14, ‘Quick, quick!’ He caught her by the sleeve, dragged her after him. ‘Quick! Something’s happened. I’ve killed her.’ . . . The Savage stood for a moment in frozen silence, then fell on his knees beside the bed and, covering his face with his hands, sobbed uncontrollably (Huxley 206). John’s actions show how traumatic Linda’s death is to him, challenging him to continue his life as a tragic hero. Corleone faces the near death of his loving father after an assassination attempt. A scene analysis of The Godfather describes Corleone’s tragedy and what followed, When his father is shot though, Michael takes revenge on the people who did it and becomes part of the Mafia lifestyle. When his older brother is murdered, Michael ascends to become the boss of the family, and proves to be more ruthless than his father and brother combined (Glass 1). Corleone’s experiences challenge him to make a difficult choice between reason and revenge. Both John and Corleone’s encounters with death serve as catalysts in becoming tragic heroes. The heroes find death testing their love and loyalty to their families. Also, each of them go through small, but difficult battles to recover from their losses including emotional breakdown for John and uncontrollable aggression for Corleone. Though John and Corleone deal with like obstacles, they also both meet similar ends to their heroic lives.

In the end of each of John and Corleone’s journeys, death functions as their boons. John’s death is the only way he can get away from the society that plagued him. Huxley describes John’s end: That evening the swarm of helicopters that came buzzing across the Hog’s Back . . . ‘Savage!’ called the first arrivals, as they alighted from their machine. ‘Mr. Savage!’ (Huxley 259). This portrays John’s inability to break away from the perverse sheepish members of the London society. To Corleone, death seems like the only return to legitimacy and sanity that he can obtain. J. Geoff Malta’s internet fan page of The Godfather quotes Corleone describing the sins that haunt him: I betrayed my wife. I betrayed myself. I killed men and I ordered men to be killed. Ah, it’s useless… I killed — I ordered the death of my brother. He injured me. I killed my mother’s son. I killed my father’s son (Malta 2). When he says this, he is old and struggling to find some shred of validity in a world of crime. The way he expresses his actions suggests that he will never find a way to cut away from his life as a barbaric Mafioso. Both John and Corleone’s deaths act as their only form of escape they can find. They are too fed up with the tedious and painful lives of alienation and invalidity that they lead. They also both can not find any sort of rational distraction that can take their minds from the pain of their tragic lives. While John’s death is different from Corleone’s in that Corleone did not commit suicide, they are similar due to the fact that they serve as an escape for each of them.

Although John the Savage and Michael Corleone take different paths in their journeys, they have few differences in the nature of their births, battles, and boons. Each was born with a similar kind of power. They both face death in the family. Lastly, the only way that they can achieve true peace is through their own deaths. As Joseph Campbell asserted, all tragic heroes follow a set course. John the Savage and Michael Corleone are no different; the actions that make their roles so similar are those that ultimately lead to their demise.

Cinema and Television


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