|Katniss: what took her so long?|
I wish I was as brave as Katniss Everdeen, the reluctant protagonist of Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games trilogy. As a mother of adolescent girls, I welcome this bow-wielding young adult female role model. Next Friday is our long-awaited family date for the premiere of the second movie. I have already ordered the popcorn.
The significance of the Stoical Katniss, played with conviction by Jennifer Lawrence, cannot be over-estimated. Quest she-heroes just did not happen in the western imagination until Alice fell down the rabbit-hole to Wonderland in Lewis Carroll’s 1865 novel, followed by the more radical Dorothy in L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900).
|Dorothy: Quest Hero|
None of this is my idea. It was in an incendiary 1985 lecture, entitled "What was Penelope unweaving?" that American scholar Carolyn Heilbrun identified the absence of female quest heroes as preventing women from escaping the single narrative line in which they have been configured. Heilbrun showed how few narratives prepared women for entry into public life rather than the marriage market, kitchen or nursery. She identified Homer’s Penelope—static on Ithaca, bored and unfulfilled—as the figure who defines, by what she was not allowed to do, the dreadful plotline plight of womankind.
|Iphigenia saves Two Big Strong Men|
|Thecla Laughs off the Lions|
But it is in the company of the spirits of these ancient she-heroes that I will certainly be getting inspired by Katniss at Cheltenham Cineworld next Friday.