Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Katniss Everdeen and the Minotaur

This weekend I watched the Hunger Games for the first time.  I saw watched.  What I mean is devoured whilst sitting at the edge of my seat, finger nails in teeth.  The Hunger Games is a great film: great, complex characters, a thought provoking plot with contemporary resonances and a kick ass heroine who isn't an ass herself.

Suzanne Collins' got the idea for the Hunger Games when flicking between reality TV shows and coverage of war atrocities.  It explores the impact of violence upon young people, the impact of celebrity. 

It reminded me of another story.

More than sixty years ago Mary Renault wrote a pair of books based on the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur called The King Must Die and The Bull from the Sea.  It told the story of Theseus being sent to Crete as part of Athens' tribute (seven young men and seven young women).  In Renault's version they became bull leapers, different from their peers, facing death on a daily basis, become strong, lean and in the end, leading an attack on court that exploited them.

The young tributes had been torn from their homes, tasted violence and death and known celebrity.  When they returned it was to a hero's welcome - and vilification.  The young people who had acted so bravely in Crete struggled to fit in. They were different, marked and changed forever.

And that's why I can't wait to find out what happens next for Katniss.  How will she deal with the challenges that Theseus faced?  How heavy will her victor's crown be?

Damn I love Greek Mythology.

And the Hunger Games.


Lisa Shambrook said...

I love your interpretation of The Hunger Games and Katniss' dilemma...I enjoyed reading the books, have you read them all?
Certainly thought-provoking!

Lisa Shambrook said...

Meant to add that the Theseus legend fits perfectly with everything Katniss faces!

Stacy Bennett said...

Meg, you are so amazingly well-versed in mythology you can relate it to LITERALLY anything. This comparison doesn't seem to be much of a stretch but it certainly did not occur to me. You are a freaking walking AMAZING encyclopedia of mythology. WOW!

I loved the movie, too. I agree with Lisa, you might want to read them. Though I do think of the 3 Hunger Games was my favorite.

Meg McNulty said...

I've ordered them! A birthday present to me :-) Can't WAIT to read them. Most people seem to like book 1 or 2 the best....

Bullish said...

I have been putting off reading this series, but now I will commit. Plus, Hutzler did those awesome character charts (on pinterest) so really, how can I resist?!

Thank you, Meg, Stacy and Lisa!! <3

Amalia T said...

I actually read The Hunger Games because people kept pestering me about how suzanne collins based the story off Theseus and the Minotaur, but then when I read the book I felt like the influence was super slight and not at all what I had been hoping to find (because apparently I was expecting a complete retelling) and all I could think was that if Katniss was Theseus, Peeta made a pretty crappy Ariadne, and the Minotaur element at the end did not sell me, either.


(Maybe I just felt Katniss was not good enough to be Theseus because Theseus is SO AWESOME ZOMGLOVEOFMYLIFEAFTERTHOR. That could totally be it.)

Sophie Moss said...

I absolutely loved the first Hunger Games book. I read it in one day, hardly able to move, with my mouth hung open the entire time. It was stunning. I bought the second one immediately after finishing the first, and was really surprised that the plot was almost exactly the same. I didn't want to go back to the same struggles of book 1 and had a hard time finishing it. I have yet to buy the third. But I saw one of your commenters mention the third was her favorite, so maybe I'll give it another try. :) I also found the film lacking. None of the characters lived up to who I imagined in my mind. Curious to hear your thoughts after you read the books. I'm not usually one to diss a movie because it's not as good as a book. But I thought this one could have been done better.