[This is the second essay comparing the Harry Potter series and the Hunger Games trilogy. Part 1 was posted on January 30, 2013.]
In the first entry of this series, we examined Harry Potter’s and Katniss Everdeen’s journeys along the “Hero’s Path”, what Joseph Campbell called the great human “monomyth”. This time, let’s look briefly at ways in which both series tap into another literary tradition: the Dystopia. Continue reading
Aside from being mega-hot, bestselling fiction and film, there are actually quite a few similarities between J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series and Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy, both on the surface and deep within their structural and thematic cores. These similarities might account for the reason fans of one series often become fans of the other, and also why these books are worthy of study as literature and not to be dismissed as merely “children’s stories” (as if children’s stories weren’t some of the most profound works ever written…but that’s another essay). Hogwarts Professor John Granger has examined some of these similarities at his blog site, including the literary alchemy of both works, their ring composition, and underlying morality. But there’s still a lot of ground to cover. This series of essays will compare Harry Potter and the Hunger Games in three areas:
- Part I. Harry, Katniss & the mythic Hero’s Journey;
- Part II. Hogwarts, Panem & the Dystopian Literary tradition; and
- Part III. Blood Sport in Panem & Hogwarts.
OK. Onto Part I.—
Here is a bonus essay to the two-part series on Classical influences in Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy. Enjoy. [Previously, “The Hunger Games: Gifts of the Gods” was published on August 6, 2012.]y,
As I was recently reading an historical murder mystery set at the Olympic Games in ancient Greece, I recognized another echo between Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy and the Classical world: the veneration of Hunger Games’ tributes and the superstar status earned by Olympic champions.
It takes some doing to beat Harry Potter in any form of sales record, but this week, Amazon reported that the Hunger Games trilogy “has suppl
anted Harry Potter as the best-selling series of all time on the website.” (Link and quote from EW’s Shelf Life.) Said Blogengamot member Arabella when forwarding this link, “That’s what JK gets for not releasing to ebook sooner and on Amazon.” Straight-up truth, there. Amazon’s figures include ebook sales, but Amazon has never been allowed to sell the digitized Potter books.
Amazon has more to offer literary fans this week, with a book of essays by YA authors on the Hunger Games books. This anthology can be augmented with a booster pack, which includes essays on the movies. Also, Twilight fans may be interested in Joel and Ella Emmett’s Twilight for Life: Finding Meaning in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight–and in Life.
And in other news:
The International Reading Association’s Engage site has posted a fascinating interview with Shannon Hale, covering some topics of likely interest to the Pub. For instance, here’s Ms. Hale on getting young boys to read about girls:
[This is the second essay in a two-part series on classical influences in Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy. The first –“The Hunger Games: How Glorious Fall the Valiant (‘Careers’ as Spartan Warriors)” — was published on May 28, 2012.]
Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins has acknowledged that her series was significantly influenced by classical mythology and history, especially the Greek myth of “Theseus and the Minotaur” and the gladiator games of ancient Rome (Collins, “A Conversation”). But there are other classical stories that bear a striking resemblance to the events in the Hunger Games arena. In the timely descent of those little silver parachutes – each one delivering life-saving food, medicine, or tools – readers can see an echo in the gifts and aid the Olympian gods sent to their chosen heroes in Greek mythology. Likewise, the manipulation of the arena’s environment by the all-powerful Game Makers is reminiscent of the way the gods used weather and other natural elements to help or hinder mortal champions. Two famous classical tales particularly illustrate these ideas.
Here’s a list that’s slightly less monstrous, having aggregated for only a week instead of a month. Never fear, though–it’s still packed with interest.
First, if you haven’t checked out Mythgard Institute, i
t’s worth a look and then some, as it offers college-level classes on medieval and fantasy literature (accreditation coming soon). Dr. Amy Sturgis has been teaching classes on Harry Potter, and on Saturday, September 1, she’ll be giving a “live, one-time only video lecture” titled “The Hunger Games and the SF Tradition.”
While we’re on The Hunger Games, the movie for Mockingjay is going to be split into two parts. Surprised, anyone?
Here’s a fascinating post: Lit Reactor’s Rob W. Hart on the question of whether–and what–series writers owe their fans. Does George R.R. Martin owe it to the world to spend every waking moment writing, in order to provide highest likelihood that he won’t die before finishing his series like Robert Jordan did? Or are fans too demanding in worrying, publicly and sometimes rather desperately, whether Martin has another six or seven years to write the last two books?
Now, something to warm every Hog’s Head regular’s heart: Continue reading
Suzanne Collins drew inspiration for The Hunger Games trilogy from the ancient Athenian myth of Theseus and the Roman gladiatorial games (Collins, “A Conversation”). She may also have been inspired by other classical cultures. One that comes to mind when reading about the Career Tributes from the wealthy districts of Panem is the mighty Spartan army.
Sparta was one of ancient Greece’s most famous city-states. Renowned for its fierce warriors and brave women, Sparta had a reputation for brutal training methods and unstoppable armies. Seen the movie 300? Those were Spartans defending Greece from the invading Persian army, and a closer look reveals some striking similarities with the Career Tributes, or “Careers”, in The Hunger Games. Both Sparta and the Career Districts (Districts 1, 2 & 4) placed their youths in brutal training camps from a young age, producing ruthless and cunning fighters. And both cultures instilled the ideal in their citizens that the highest honor was to fight and die for their homeland. Let’s take a closer look at history’s Spartans, and see how the Careers compare. Continue reading
After a couple of weeks’ buildup, we have an immense number of links this week. Accio interesting stuff!
First, the Hogwarts Professor’s report on St Andrews’ academic conference on Harry Potter. The members of the Blogengamot who couldn’t catch a broom to Scotland for that experience are all thoroughly mopey for having missed it.
In the fantasy realm, in bullet points: