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'The more strongly the presence of the Aborigine is felt in the production, the more the play can be seen to be concerned with colonisation' discuss?

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Introduction

Sunday, 22 December 2002 Jad Salfiti A2 English Literature 'The more strongly the presence of the Aborigine is felt in the production, the more the play can be seen to be concerned with colonisation' discuss? 'Our Country's Good' is based on events that occurred in the first penal colony to be set up in Australia in 1789. The play deals with the prisoners in the colony, who were imprisoned for minor infractions, while still in Britain. It tells of the abuse they endured at the hands of their officers, in the world's most remote outpost. Some British convicts were dragged over from Britain for petty crimes such as stealing a morsel of food. After a horrendously severe voyage at sea, and with rations becoming dangerously low, the Governor of the colony, Captain Arthur Phillip realizes that morale is at an all time low. In an effort to uplift the spirits of the convicts and officers, he suggests a stage play be presented. The convicts would take the parts in this comedy; 'The Recruiting Officer'. 'Our Country's Good' is a play primarily concerned with theatre's influence in changing people's lives rather than with the British colonisation of Australia. The arrival of the transported victims in Australia, allows the writer to dramatise how they will rebuild their shattered lives through their involvement in theatre and how it will result ultimately in their transformation. In Act One Scene Two. The Aborigine sees the whites as ancestral ghosts who have returned to the land. His sensibility is thus distinguished from a European one. ...read more.

Middle

Crowded, hungry and disturbed, the ancestral spirits have been conflated with the convicts in the mind of the Aborigine. It is as though the colonisation of Australia is not just a territorial invasion but also a metaphysical appropriation. Aborigine myth-making about their origins and ancestors has become contaminated. The register used is the Aborigine interpretation of reality. The Aborigine in the play acts like a touchstone and a criterion, he reflects not just the Aborigines and their culture but the Australian land mass as a whole "How can we befriend this crowded, hungry and disturbed dream?" In the last scene, this spiritual exploitation expresses itself in physiological terms: the Aborigine turns up at the camp, dying of smallpox contracted from the white man. Displaying symptoms of the disease, the Aborigine conceded that perhaps it is not a dream after all. Thus historical reality hits home with a vengeance. The lonely death of the Aborigine- he drifts off stage at the end, shunned and ignored by the convicts- enacts the larger death of the indigenous people, it is a microcosm. In Act Two, Scene Eleven: Backstage. The aborigine's vision at the beginning of Act Two, Scene Seven has now come to pass. Earlier he had envisioned a "swarm of ancestors", invading the land like an advancing cloud of locusts. Now he suffers a "plague" in the form of smallpox, a disease contracted from the white man. The "oozing pustules" and soaring temperatures are the outward symptoms of colonisation. ...read more.

Conclusion

By the end of the play her intellect emerges and develops, Mary embodies the Stanislayski view of acting. "No. I have to be her" she becomes more assertive. Ralph, conversely, originally decided to mount the play with ulterior motives; he wanted promotion. He is patronising, condescending and overtly sarcastic towards the convicts at the audition towards the other actors. Quite absurdly Ralph has very little authority at the rehearsals. In Scene six, however he speaks up for the play, saying that the actors "seemed to acquire a dignity" and they seemed "to lose some of their corruption". By the end of the play Ralph and Mary's attraction towards each other is finally confirmed, and Ralph is reformed in that he stops dichotomising women, and can view Mary as a women rather then having to pigeon-hole her either a virgin or a whore. Dabby, on the other hand at the beginning of the play is domineering; her motivation when she's showing off Mary, is primarily to sell her. She sees women as a 'commodity'; Dabby acts as a 'pimp' for the female convicts. Hard-bitten and cynical, she dominates the shy and retiring Mary. Her opinion on lose is that it is "more of contract to marriage", her theatrical importance is she counterpoints Mary. Dabby is a feminist who sees the injustice of the world. She sees how male domination means Women are viewed as little more than property. She is concerned about how women can get power. Dabby evidently has a limited view of the play; she cannot distinguish between theatre and reality. She learns about social responsibility when she delays her escape. ...read more.

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