An Analysis of Merlin the Timid Clownfish in Finding Nemo

Topics: Finding Nemo

The motion picture we are applying or using is Pixar’s “Finding Nemo”. Our hero would be Marlin, the timid clownfish who lives safe and secluded in the colorful and warm tropical waters of the Great Barrier Reef. After the devastating, life changing event when starting a family, specifically when a hostile fish devoured his wife and all his unborn kids, Marlin had been a cowardly, cautious individual who lacks socialism and simply “can’t tell a joke”. He limits, rescues, protects and controls Nemo, and expectations are low for Nemo’s ability, due to his disability.

He is somber, worried and agitated about every detail in Nemo’s life. In fact, Marlin’s life completely revolves around Nemo’s life. Also, Marlin can’t acknowledge or admit that he has any problems. Following Joseph Campbell’s steps, Marlin eventually becomes an epic hero by following the epic hero journey and relinquishes his flaws. “Finding Nemo” would be a fitting selection of a fictional depiction of the Hero’s Journey.

The Call to Adventure is simply a beckon for a journey to establish. The hero is called to adventure by some external event or messenger. The Hero may accept the call willingly or reluctantly. In this case, Marlin was forced to leave his passive habitat in order to locate his son taken away from him. This event pulled him out of his everyday tranquil life in his coral enclave, into a deep quest of peril. The call began on Nemo’s field trip to the drop-off.

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Marlin panicked when he realized that his only son would be going to the tragic area. Nemo, defiantly in anger, swam in open sea headed towards the boat after Marlin scolded him loudly and embarrassed him. A huge human diver emerged out of nowhere and captured Nemo. In desperation while being blinded by a camera flash, Marlin inconsiderately swam out to his greatest fear; the open sea which consists of unpredictable risks and hazards.

The hero is often accompanied on the journey by a helper who assists in the series of tests and generally serves as a loyal companion. Alternately, the hero may encounter a supernatural helper in the world of adventure who fulfills this function. Dory, the supernatural aid, is found when the two fishes collide amid the confusion. The Supernatural Aid is companion or guide that helps the hero of what is in need, which would offer advice, direction, and skills. The kind-hearted but extremely absent-minded optimistic blue tang fish first knows which direction the boat went. She also has the ability to read, which helped in different situations, and could speak whale, which was essential to the quest as well. Being a convivial female, other fish tend to enjoy her company or like her. The school of small silver fish deliberately taunted and mocked Marlin and refused to answer him. Dory on the other hand, was treated kindly and they answered her questions adequately with respect. As the two fish continue on their journey, encountering numerous dangers, Dory’s optimism continually forces Marlin to find the courage to take risks and overcome his fears.

Upon reaching the threshold of adventure, the hero must undergo some sort of ordeal in order to pass from the everyday world into the world of adventure. The Threshold Crossing is the last chance to turn back. When Marlin leaves his serene coral reef, there is no turning back. If he does, then he will lose Nemo forever. Marlin is thrust into a new world he has never seen before. There are dangers and risk Marlin would never consider to take. The important feature is the contrast between the familiar world of light and the dark, unknown world of adventure.

Once in the open sea, Marlin’s greatest fear, the clownfish will meet friend or gain allies who will help him in his mission. As I mentioned, Dory, the absent-minded fish, is the most important ally who sticks with Marlin throughout his whole quest and has the ability to read. The others help Marlin throughout his journey when he is in need. In chronological order, first Bruce and his friends help Marlin by taking them to their “club”, despite their attempt to eat him later. Marlin finds the mask that has the location where his son was taken. Motivated to find it, Marlin meets with a large school of clever silver fish that enjoys making images with their mass. After the fun of taunting Marlin, they eventually help Marlin by telling him the direction of the fast current that would lead them to Sydney. Marlin and Dory are rescued by sea turtles when shocked unconscious by poisonous jellyfish. When entering the Sydney harbor Nigel, the pelican, assists them scooping them up in his bill to take them to specific area where Nemo is being held hostage, while avoiding the wild seagulls that say nothing but “mine”. Also Nigel helps Nemo by keeping him up with information about his father trying to rescue him. Lastly, there are Nemo’s tank mates and specifically the mysterious Gill. Gill is the respected fish in the tank that has a mysterious past. He is a tough, yet a strong, altruistic character who personally rescued Nemo while risking his own life.

The object, knowledge, or blessing that the hero acquired during the adventure is now put to use. The snorkeling goggles, called the mask, would be the Gift. The gift is something that will aid the hero in his quest and absolutely necessary. The mask had written on it the location where Nemo was being kept as “prisoner”. The true gift was the information on the mask and is absolutely necessary. Marlin first found the mask when they were forced to enter the vegetarian sharks’ pointless meeting. There were times where he lost the mask and recovered it. Its importance was so great that Marlin and Dory were willing to dive into the depths of the ocean to retrieve it when they lost it. They had to face a terrifying monster for the gift, which is not unusual in an epic quest. Once they had the information memorized, they discarded it or left it behind.

The most crucial part of the Hero’s Journey would be the Road of Trials. The Road of Trials is where the hero must endure a series of trial, or ordeals to begin the renovation from the old self to the new self to fulfill his quest. Each successful test further proves the hero’s ability and advances the journey toward its climax. Marlin’s road of trials consisted of the mindless sharks, the monster of the deep, the jellyfish forest, a thick fog, the belly of a whale, the dentist’s office, and the Final Confrontation of the fishing grounds. Marlin and Dory first were captured by shark into their mindless club. They had to escape despite the shark’s motto; “fish are friends, not food”. This revealed Dory’s ability to read. The monster at the bottom of the ocean tested Marlin and Dory’s ability to work together, because she needed light and Marlin had to control the source, which was the angelfish’s light. The jellyfish forest reveals to Marlin his incapability to trust in others, because Dory had told him to swim through the trench, not over it. He realizes Dory’s subsequent injury was due to his doubt. He realizes here his ability to overcome was inside him all along. The belly of the whale was the Abyss, which was where an enormous whale swallowed up Marlin and Dory where they are kept figuratively as hostages.

When the gigantic blue whale swallows Marlin and Dory, Marlin is angry to the point of exhaustion and gives up. Dory comfort him, but goes too far by disturbing the whale to drain water in his mouth. Marlin is now stuck in a situation where he has to trust his instincts, or trust the blue tang fish that has been accompanied with him for too long. He noticed Dory’s severe scars from the jellyfish incident, realized that he should trust her. In doing so, Marlin gains the ability to trust and believe, like Dory, that things will work out in the end. When Marlin lets himself fall into the whale’s throat to be launched out of the whale’s blowhole, he is reborn as new self. He conquers his fears and faulting personal characteristics. He finally learns to stop doubting others’ abilities, stop worrying to excess, and to finally place in trust in others.

Being the most critical moment, The Final Confrontation is the hero and his allies must prepare for the final obstacle or confrontation. It also facilitates the particular resolution of the adventure. When first re-united, Marlin immediately adopts his old attitude of protection and control but Nemo’s enduring and compassionate spirit will not allow his father to stop him from rescuing the many fish caught in the gil net along with Dory and about to be brought to the surface of the water. Nemo has had a taste of freedom from his father’s well-meaning “tyranny”. Nemo has the opportunity to become a hero, not only in his own eyes but in the eyes of the underwater world in which he lives. Marlin has no choice but to let him go and to trust. In doing so, Nemo is able to release the hero that was bottled up inside of his soul by his father’s control. In releasing that hero, courageously rising to the occasion, Nemo changes the lives of those many fish around him. Marlin wasn’t the only hero, but Nemo as well. When Marlin let Nemo go he had entirely completed his utter transformation.

When Marlin conquers Abyss and the final confrontation and overcome his fears, his sheer transformation becomes complete. It is a moment of death and rebirth; a part of him dies so that a new part can be born. The Revelation is a sudden, dramatic change in the way he thinks or views life. In Atonement, he usually receives a gift of being stronger, or enlightened spiritually. When Marlin returns to his coral enclave, he is a different person. He is confident, easy-going, socialized with his peers, and can finally tell a good joke. His old self has died away.

The master of mythology, Joseph Campbell, has created the template of how an epic journey of transformation should be. As a brief synopsis, when Marlin, an overly cautious clownfish, helplessly watches his son get scooped up by a diver, he must put aside his fears of the ocean and leave the safety of his coral enclave to find Nemo. Marlin demonstrates the epic hero journey while following Joseph Campbell’s steps. Confronting dangerous sea creatures, sewer systems, and even man himself, father and son’s fateful separation ends in victory. Though he does confront his physical trials, but the greater is mental and psychological trials and fears. The once-fearful Marlin becomes a true hero in the eyes of his son, and the entire ocean.

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An Analysis of Merlin the Timid Clownfish in Finding Nemo. (2021, Dec 16). Retrieved from

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