Mata Hari

Mata Hari

Mata Hari. Photograph. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Web.

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/368879/Mata-Hari

Mata Hari, born Margaretha Geertruida Zelle, was a German spy during World War I.  She was born in the Netherlands and was executed by a French firing squad outside of Paris after she was exposed as a spy.  She began as a German spy, and there is some debate as to whether she was later a double agent for the French, before reviving her alliance with the Germans.  Mata Hari has since been a symbol of espionage and seduction.

I chose an image of Mata Hari because I think that she is a very striking and unique character.  She played a vital role as a spy at a time when many women were either housewives, nurses, or factory workers.  I was drawn to this particular photo because of how regal she looks.  All of her attire and accessories are very expensive, so she had to have been very financially successful in order to acquire these riches.

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2 thoughts on “Mata Hari”

  1. I’m pulled to this photo because of what it suggests about the role that being “exotic” played. In a time where sexism was rampant and women were seen as inferior to varying degrees, being “exotic” seemed to be the exception. The fact that mata hari has a far east sound (certainly more than margarietha) only furthers this point. This photo only furthers that notion because she is portrayed in a very noble pose whose dress seems to harken back to the outfits seen in ancient greece. This photo seems to prove how much dress and image plays into establishing our beliefs.

  2. She was Dutch, but she sort of reinvented herself as a Hindu dancer. I think it’s interesting that she was so famous as an “Oriental” dancer, but she was nothing as Dutch woman. I agree that the picture, and Mata Hari’s character, is intriguing because of the dichotomy between East and West that it portrays.

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