Blixen the Vixen
She had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills (Out of Africa). Typically when watching a film based in Africa, the main characters are African. Considering how interesting Karen’s perspective, I will accept that all of the primary characters are wealthy Europeans. Karen is an independent woman, much like female characters are written in today’s cinema. While she so happened to fall in love with a man, she proved herself to be a smart businesswoman and political powerhouse. She had money and all she needed from Bror was his title. Unfortunately, he would consummate the marriage with the gift of a deadly disease. Even having been given a death sentence, she powered on. Her authority throughout the film is displayed through her interactions with several groups including the natives, the women, and the men.
When Karen first set foot on African soil, her privilege was evident. She wanted them to be careful with her fine crystal. Living on their part was pure survival and she was an adventurer. Life was a luxury to be enjoyed. Perhaps through proximity in work and residence, she began to sympathize with the natives. She ultimately is a caring person. She insisted on the village boy, who would later become her houseboy, to seek medical attention with his injured leg. She knew how to use reverse psychological in order to persuade him to get help despite his pride. She also wanted the local children to be educated. Karen pleaded that more privileged children did not ask to be taught how to read and the African children shouldn’t have to either (Out of Africa). Even the chief of the village warmed up to Blixen’s insistence to better the community, displaying his respect for her and her endeavors. She respected all the natives too, which is why it had never crossed her mind to utilize the natives’ land for plating. She worked side by side with her workers, something most plantation owners and especially no women would even think of doing.
Karen is not a woman of her time. She begins her proposal to Baron Bror by stating what was at risk. She hadn’t found love or a husband and would be denounced as a lonely spinster. Women needed a man to find happiness. She only needed his royalty. Such was the ideal of marriage. We are introduced to another female character, Felicity. She is very much like Karen in that they don’t adhere to female stereotypes. She states that she wants to “run her own show” like Blixen does. While she would like a man, she doesn’t want to belong to someone else. She supposes that women are “supposed to want to be taken” (Out of Africa). While the conclusion of their discussion isn’t captured, Blixen’s response insinuates that Felicity should want to be her own woman, to not wait like a princess in a tower. While on her first outing on safari Blixen is a damsel in distress, she is no stranger to a rifle and a few big game kills. She can obviously take care of herself physically as demonstrated by her take down of a charging lioness. She can protect herself among charging lions as well.
Blixen was often the sole woman among a pride of men. Still, she was often the most powerful or influential. During her first dinner with Finch-Hatton, she lets him know that a real traveler has no need for food or drink. She wanted to make it known that she was just as experienced as any other hunter. Surely, Blixen had been hunting since her schoolgirl days. One of the greatest scenes displaying her prowess was when Finch-Hatton and Barkley demanded to know what she was doing on her way to meet Delamere. Barkley says, “That’s ridiculous. We don’t send women to war”. Karen’s response is, “Well I’m going” as she gets on her horse and continues her journey (Out of Africa). She was the only person to match Finch-Hatton’s spontaneousness. Karen was the type of woman that would be found in today’s society, being that she was liberal in her marriage. Perhaps it was because she held resentment for his philandering or because the initial commitment was a scam, but Blixen was completely willing to let her legal husband go off to be with other women and eventually divorce her to be with one. Then again, she wasn’t being completely faithful either.
Karen Blixen would make a great Disney princess, although I’m not sure how they would convey the adultery and sexually transmitted disease. She was far ahead of her time. Considering her status and wealth, one wouldn’t be blamed for labeling her a privileged white woman taking advantage of African workers and land. The first 20 or so minutes and certain chapters from the book would create the same impression. Those same people must not have known of her contribution and sole management of her coffee plantation. How many Disney princesses can create their own empire during the week and take down full-grown lions from 50 feet away without flinching on the weekend? It is through her interactions with others and the environments around her that amplify her bravery and intelligence.O