The Metamorphosis of Katniss Everdeen: The Hunger Games, Myth, and Femininity

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While Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games trilogy explicitly includes Greco-Roman references, this essay argues that the trilogy also implicitly invokes the myths of Artemis and of Philomela. In obliquely referencing these mythic women, The Hunger Games provides its protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, with different possible paths of femininity that she can follow. By showing how both of these forms of femininity keep Katniss focused on vengeance, The Hunger Games points to the dangers of reproducing beliefs inherited from the past. Katniss’s ultimate rejection of both of these inherited types of femininity allows her to break free from her past and to change her society.

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... The literature on this trilogy is abundant and several topics have been addressed: Lacan's trope of sacrificial children (Shau Ming Tan 2013), the metamorphosis of Katniss Everdeen (Strong 2015), gender roles and power relations (Godbey 2014;Miller 2012), symbolism through the use of proper names (González-Vera 2016), the construal of the trilogy as a journey of moral development (Issow 2012), or the power of metaphor and its paradoxical associations (Olthouse 2012). Our study examines these topics from a unified perspective by making use of some of the tools of Cognitive Linguistics and Critical Discourse Analysis. ...
... The metamorphosis of Katniss is one of these paradoxes in The Hunger Games. We complement Strong's (2015) analysis by claiming that Katniss' transformation from child to woman is related to a new perspective on gender roles that brings together male and female roles, thus leading to an emerging female empowerment -and positivism -in the novel. This is possible through the balanced personality she develops when she manages to identify herself with The Mockingjay, a supernatural creature. ...
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This paper provides evidence of the fruitfulness of combining analytical categories from Cognitive Linguistics and Critical Discourse Analysis for the analysis of complex literary characterizations. It does so through a detailed study of the “tributes”, i.e. the randomly selected children who have to fight to death in a nationally televised show, in The Hunger Games. The study proves the effectiveness of such categories to provide an analytically accurate picture of the dystopian world depicted in the novel, which is revealed to include a paradoxical element of hope. The type of dehumanization that characterizes the dystopian society of Panem is portrayed through an internally consistent set of ontological metaphors which project negative aspects of lower forms of existence onto people. This selection of metaphors promotes a biased perspective on the poor inhabitants of Panem, while legitimizing the social inequalities the wealthy Capitol works hard to immortalize. However, Katniss undergoes a metamorphosis through her discovery of her own identity, which hints at an emerging female empowerment. This transformation, together with her identification with the Mockingjay, a supernatural being that voices her beliefs and emotions, contributes to disrupting the status quo imposed by the almighty Gamemakers and to purveying a message of optimism.
... Throughout the trilogy, Collins colors her narrative with explicit allusions to classical Greece and Rome. The literary critic Kathryn Strong Hansen (2015), among others, has noted that Katniss has strong resonances with the goddess Artemis. The Minotaur myth is another obvious reference. ...
Suzanne Collins’ bestselling Hunger Games trilogy is saturated in death, particularly the death of children. In exploring these fictional deaths, this article firstly considers the problematic nature of Collins’ representation. While the trilogy’s declared purpose is to critique the misuse of power by a corrupt government who perpetuate their control through staging the slaughter of children as entertainment, the narrative can only make this critique through itself enacting the gladiatorial contest which is the Hunger Games. The tension between the Hunger Games as voyeuristic spectacle and as murder of innocents is never fully resolved, but Collins’ awareness of the cost and trauma of murder and war mitigate this seeming exploitation of human suffering. Drawing on Susan Sontag’s interrogation of both the dangers and necessity of representing violent death in Regarding the Pain of Others, we argue that Collins depicts and confronts death to critique oppressive power and its devaluing of life. Through her protagonist Katniss, Collins articulates a message of action in the face of terror and loss, while never losing sight of the tragic cost of violence. Her complex and nuanced engagement with death seeks to sensitise her audience and heighten their ethical awareness as they follow Katniss’s moral evolution.
This chapter reveals and dissects a disturbing pattern communicated through women’s bodies in certain Roman adaptations of Greek drama and cinematic adaptations of Anglophone texts. The adaptors in question change their source material in order to heighten violence against women (particularly sexual violence) depicted in the original, or to add such violence not previously present. The movies and television series—including The Hunger Games, Game of Thrones, and 300: Rise of an Empire—do so not for the purposes of social commentary but for mere sensationalism and for the titillation of specific viewers. These “sinister adaptations” stand in marked contrast to the ancient Roman drama of Plautus, Terence, and Seneca, in which heightened violence against women highlights the adaptors’ criticism of their societies.
This article explores Katniss Everdeen’s ecofeminist political agency in The Hunger Games film series (2012-2015) in the light of global social movements in the late 2010s. As a young destitute woman who defies the oppressive rules of an oligarchic and patriarchal totalitarian order, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) represents the utopian potential of intersectional politics forged across class, gender, racial and geopolitical borders. In opposition to ecocidal and patriarchal conceptions of progress, Katniss’s ecofeminist heroism is illustrative of the emergence of cosmopolitan political imaginaries that advocate sustainable, egalitarian collective futures constructed beyond the methodological frameworks of neoliberal globalisation and material dialectics. Contemporary with young activists like Greta Thunberg, one of the founders of the ecological movement Fridays for Future, Katniss can be taken as a cinematic representative of a new generation of utopian political actors for whom individual well-being is tied to ecosocial welfare and cosmopolitan inclusion.
This chapter argues that one of the most important emotional conflicts in The Hunger Games trilogy is the contrast between contempt and the sense of emotional dignity. In the trilogy, contempt functions as an affective force to undermine human dignity, while dignity resists practices that violate human integrity for socio-economic and political goals. Panem is a dystopian society because it is based on the arbitrary supremacy of one privileged group, whose leader uses his influence to set underprivileged groups against each other. This renders Panem a society of totalitarian contempt. One central concept through which the totalitarian contempt in The Hunger Games trilogy gets its expression is the notion of masquerade. The Games themselves function as a spectacular masquerade, seemingly celebrating individualism as a ‘pageant of bravery.’ At the same time, masquerade can also be understood as a form of resistance against the dominant social codes in contrast to submission. Therefore, the final part of the chapter explores the way in which masquerade in The Hunger Games trilogy is harnessed in the service of resistance when dignity is reclaimed by means of fashion as an assertion of personal and collective self-esteem.
In Suzanne Collins’ Young Adult trilogy, The Hunger Games (2008–2010), the homicidal state of Panem acts like the classic psychopath of slasher films. Katniss Everdeen’s refusal to become a Final Girl in the brutal Games inspires the revolution that destroys President Snow’s tyrannical regime. Hailed as a hero, Katniss has, however, no true agency. Overwhelmed by her victimization, she even commits a shocking crime: the political assassination of the new leader, Alma Coin. The love of the Final Boy, Peeta Mellark, is essential for this Final Girl to survive, yet not enough for Katniss to ever cease being a victim.
Can the democratizing power of transmedia facilitate positive changes for women as media producers, consumers and audience-members? We discuss this question with reference to the transmedia intellectual property, The Hunger Games (Collins, 2008ff), first examining how it functions as a transmedia property, then considering the ways in which the critical literature has addressed its potential for positive change. We identify two key strands within the critical analysis of this transmedia property, the ‘failure of agency’ and the ‘cop-out ending’ arguments, which we suggest do not fully account for Collins’ text. Although we find that The Hunger Games book series offers positive roles and opportunities for women, we conclude that its progressive potential is constrained and diluted as it enters the transmedia world, as a consequence of commercial imperatives, exemplifying how transmedia offers some definite but limited opportunities for change.
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