Thursday, July 10, 2014

Literary Alchemy in 'Hunger Games' Part 2: Peeta and President Snow in the first Mockingjay Teaser

(This is the second part in a series exploring the literary alchemy of the Hunger Games. You can read a brief outline of the alchemical imagery of the trilogy in Part One, right here.

President Snow's chilling address to Panem in the first teaser trailer for Mockingjay Part One was released last week. One of the most interesting things about it is the use of the color white throughout. Even the casual reader or viewer of The Hunger Games can sense that this first trailer is all about President Snow and that the whiteness reinforces Snow's power, corruption, and control over Panem.

If you read my previous post, however, you'll remember that the color white in an alchemical novel is part of the cleansing, purifying white "Albedo" stage-- something that President Snow far from represents to Katniss. This trailer, by dousing President Snow and Peeta in white imagery and putting them side by side, points to something that is a bit more subtle in the books: that Peeta and Snow are both "white" characters that compliment and contrast one another…

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Literary Alchemy in 'The Hunger Games': Part One

 If you're a serious reader of Harry Potter or The Hunger Games, chances are you've heard of John Granger, the Hogwarts Professor (and if you haven't heard of him, you should go ahead and click on that link). You might even recognize his name from this very blog, as he was the one who introduced me both to literary alchemy and ring composition, which I've touched on before here and here
In light of the first teaser trailer of Mockingjay Part 1 released just last week, I'd like to turn to literary alchemy once again. Because once you know the symbols and images that correlate to alchemy, it's near impossible not to feel as if the trailer is wrought with alchemical meaning. John gives a lengthy but extremely readable discussion of literary alchemy and how Suzanne Collins particularly, uses it to structure her Hunger Games series here. I recommend reading through it at least once, but here is a short snippet that very simply describes the process of alchemical literature: 
"Alchemy is a three stage work in its simplest outline...with each stage represented traditionally by a different color and set of meaningful images. In the first, the person to be enlightened is broken down, shattered really, to their core idea or ‘prime matter.’ This process when represented in metallurgy was one of “burning down” and was known as the nigredo or black stage because of this process. The second stage is one of purification or cleansing. The shattered survivor of the nigredo here is washed and restored in preparation for the chrysalis of the remaining stage. Unlike the first stage, then, which was represented by the color black and fire, the second stage, the albedo, that is the opposite of the first, is about the color white and purifying water. The last stage is red because the person’s transformation and illumination accomplished in the albedo is revealed usually in the red-hot crucible of the story’s final crisis. It is is called the rubedo and as you’ve probably guessed is represented by red figures."