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A Study on the Life of Courage as a Hero in John Dilworth’s Animation, Courage the Cowardly Dog

A Heroes Journey, Courage The Cowardly Dog

The start of Courage’s heroes journey starts in the town he lives in called Nowhere. He resides in a farmhouse, removed from neighbors and far from the town. He was adopted by an elderly couple, Muriel and Eustace Baggs. The farm in Nowhere is Courage’s “ordinary world”. When we first see the characters it is sunny and day outside, the ordinary world is still in balance. A white figure with a white mask walks down the barren land to where Muriel is tending to the chickens in the henhouse and Courage is outside. The guest that comes is named Kitty. She is constantly beating up Courage with domestic appliances while Muriel and Eustace turn a blind eye to it. This is the start of the conflict. Kitty tells how her friend Bunny is in trouble with some gangsters since she has fallen in love with one. She wants to save her friend but her own life was threatened and she needed to save herself. When confronted about her mask she replies that she cannot face reality while revealing secret truths about Muriel and Eustace. Muriel being gluttony and sneaking sweets when no one looks and Eustace being pride, he is too proud to admit that he needs help or cannot fix everything. This creates an unbalanced atmosphere at the house in Nowhere. Courage takes responsibility to try to restore balance.

He fears for the life of his owner Muriel. He has visions in his head of her being strangled and eaten by Kitty. Courage gains the motivation this way to set out on his journey to resolve the conflict. He breaks into Kitty’s room one night and takes a cat toy belonging to her from her aforementioned friend, Bunny. He locks Kitty’s door as well as the Bagg’s bedroom door to keep them safe and Kitty locked away. He goes out of the house and into the car, driving to town. He arrives at a diner where he meets a rat. The rat plays the part of the mentor. The rat fills Courage in on the story of Bunny and Kitty. Mad Dog, Bunny’s gangster boyfriend, plays the antagonist and represents jealousy. He was jealous of Bunny and Kitty’s friendship and so ran Kitty out of town. The rat tells Courage where to find Mad Dog and Bunny and Courage sets out again. He crosses the train tracks which act as the threshold. Taking him from his ordinary world to the underworld.

Keeping the cat toy, or talisman, with him, he arrives at Mad Dog’s house. He sees Mad Dog and his crew and the innocent Bunny, who is dressed in white. Courage finds that Bunny is in danger and goes to save her when he busts into the room to get her out of the flower pot she was planted in. When a henchman of Mad Dog comes in the lights go out so we do not see our hero fighting the villain. The lights turn back on and the dog is on the floor unconscious and broken. Courage rushes to save Bunny with the broken bodied images of his owners periodically playing in his broken mind to give him the confidence he needs to be brave. The final battle scene begins when Mad Dog sees Courage and Bunny trying to escape and chases after them. Bunny is helpless and relies on Courage the whole time to protect her. Courage envisions himself beating the masked monster in his head and then makes a final effort to stop Mad Dog. The fight takes place on the threshold. Courage breaks into Mad Dog’s car to stop him from running down Bunny. The train comes and Courage jumps out and Mad Dog is defeated.

The conflict is over and everything resolves. On the back of the train is Kitty. Bunny runs to her with the talisman and they leave Nowhere. Courage then crosses the threshold back to the ordinary world and goes home. When he arrives at the house it is daylight again. Muriel is eating an an apple to mark her growth from her conflict with gluttony. Eustace as well grows by using the mask to help with his fixing of things and asking Muriel for a bobby pin for help. The scene ends with Courage, the hero, relaxing.

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