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The Archetypal Hero Katniss Everdeen English Literature Essay

A fictional novel written by Suzanne Collins, called The Hunger Games, reveals a heroic teen, Katniss Everdeen, as she encounters a courageous journey. Only heroes can save the day in the middle of any tragedy, destruction, or catastrophe because they hold the courage to embrace their skills through courageous and difficult actions. In the book of archetypal criticism, The Hero and the Outlaw, Margaret Mark and Carol Pearson states “There are infinite variations on this story, but in every one the Hero triumphs over evil, adversity, or a major challenge, and in so doing, inspires us all” (Mark and Pearson 105). Throughout history the use of archetypes has been put into many of the world’s best stories. In every story these characters appear in they tend to give it more life and interest. There are several characters in the novel The Hunger Games, portrayed as different archetypes; the protagonist Katniss Everdeen is portrayed as an archetypal hero.

Katniss Everdeen is a hero in the sense that she risked her own life for her family, friends, and district. Heroism has existed since the beginning of storytelling. Heroes stand up for the weak and innocent, and clash with wickedness. A hero may also be known as a courageous figure, the one who's always running in and saving the day (Understanding Literary Archetypes 2002). The hero typically undergoes a journey or quest that begins when something traumatic happens in their life forcing them to leave home, and is prepared to make sacrifices to make sure that others are kept safe. Throughout history, archetypes have been a part of stories, myths, journeys, and tales. These stories that contain archetypal heroes have similar plots, along with characteristics that are comparable to the individual archetypal hero. In many of the world’s best stories, archetypes make the story more entertaining and enjoyable. Ultimately, Katniss displayed true heroism in this novel as she put her life in danger while she made sacrifices for the well-being of others. She portrays what a true hero is, one that is prepared to give up everything for the safety of others and the victory over evil. Katniss is great example of a hero, because throughout the story she sacrifices herself by taking her sister’s place in the games to keep her sister safe. Doing this, she entered a world of both emotional and physical pain and violence.

In the novel Katniss Everdeen is the lead female hero that was born in the country of Panem, a poor coal mining district, also known as District 12. Throughout the story Collins portrayed Katniss’s character as a traditional male archetype but she also accepts female archetypal characteristics. Katniss taking on the role of hunter, provider, and protector are typically designed for the male gender. A hunter goes out to capture or kill food to make sure the family is fed. A provider is an individual that ensures that the family’s needs are met, like food, water, shelter, and overall health. The protector watches over the family to keep them out of harm’s way: “She is driven by the will to survive and through her hunting learns to provide for her family on her own. Normally parents provide for their children, but for Katniss the roles were reversed, which causes her to mature faster than most teenagers.” (Jimenez 31). In The Hunger Games, after the death of her father, Katniss embodies the features of protector for her family. She risks her live going into the woods hunting for food to put on the table to protect her family for survival; Katniss stats “Inside the woods [animals] roam freely, and there are added concerns like venomous snakes, rabid animals, and no real paths to follow. But there’s also food if you know how to find it. My father knew and he taught me some before he was blown to bits in a mine explosion” (Collins 6).

The young female archer in The Hunger Games, the protagonist, is interesting because of her individual strength and the recognition she puts forth that she needs to survive, which creates a purpose for people to want her to stay alive. Archetypal heroes usually contain a special weapon that symbolizes the quality and skill the hero embodies. In most cases, the hero is the only individual able to use the weapon and it is usually acquired from the mentor (Jimenez 22). In the book, Katniss’s special weapon is a bow and arrow crafted by her father: “My bow is a rarity, crafted by my father along with a few others that I keep well hidden in the woods, carefully wrapped in waterproof covers” (Collins 6). Katniss absolutely embodies heroism as she faces nearly an impossible task with endless amounts of courage; that keeps others alive with her skills as hunter, caretaker, and provider. For those of you who have not read the story, the hero is forced to go against 23 other young people to attempt to win a horrible competition called The Hunger Games. She has to try her best to stay alive, while the other 23 contestants die. The Capitol created The Hunger Games so that the Districts would remember their complete hopelessness they have under the Panem’s rule. Every year one teen boy and one teen girl are chosen from each District to go forth as tribute. The 24 contestants are put in a wilderness arena and forced to fight to the death until there is only one left standing. The tributes from each of the 12 districts are pampered with food and other items the capitol provides, and they can receive sponsorship throughout the games determining on how well they fight and survive. The District that wines for that year is indulged with wealth and favor.

A general archetypal hero also has a tendency to leave his or her loved ones because of a tragic event that normally leads him or her to a quest where he or she could face many task along the way to search for someone or something. In The Hunger Games when Katniss volunteers herself for the reaping, to take her sister place is a good example because she is forced to leave her family to compete in The Hunger Games. Katniss’s younger sister, Primrose Everdeen, is the name that Effie Trinket actually pulled out of the glass bowl for the girls. From Collins novel, Katniss says, “Effie Trinket crosses back to the podium, smoothes the slip of paper, and reads out the name in a clear voice. And it’s not me. It’s Primrose Everdeen.” (Collins 14).When delicate 12 year old Prim, Katniss's younger sister, is selected from the reaping, Katniss does what any big sister should do, volunteers to take her place. She goes to the Capitol with male contestant Peeta Mellark, where they are trained and pampered for the big event. Katniss and Peeta are trained by Haymitch, who concocts a romantic scenario between the two of them to help build their onscreen personas and overcome District 12's underdog status. Haymitch is District 12's only Games survivor, and a raging alcoholic. It's never openly stated, but we know this is because he never got over his trauma, and has to relive it every year by training up a couple of kids he knows will die.

There are parallels with another archer: our namesake, the Greek goddess of the wilderness and of fertility, Artemis. We chose Artemis as our symbol for some of the same attributes that Katniss embraces; she represents strength, accuracy, nurturing and protection. As in The Hunger Games, research is often about trying to make sense of a challenging environment. Strength of focus and accuracy in interpretation are critical. Our work is often used to help nurture a growing brand, or to protect an existing one. We love the meaning of our namesake Artemis, and so, despite the gruesome theme of The Hunger Games, we love the modern-day evocation of the virtues that make the image of this archer so strong.


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