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Distinctively Visual Essay Sample

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Distinctively Visual Essay Sample

Discuss how the distinctively visual conveys distinctive experiences in at least TWO of Lawson’s short stories set for study and ONE other related text of your own choosing, which must be a visual text. You must attach a deconstructed copy of your visual text.

Henry Lawson conveys distinctively visual experiences in his short stories through techniques such as imagery, tone, personal reflection, language and style. The use of language and the development of characters in Lawson’s short stories create distinctively visual images to position the reader to correctly interpret the text and shape their understanding. ‘The Drover’s Wife’ and ‘In a Dry Season’ demonstrate Lawson’s skill in clearly reflecting distinctive Australian voices and a distinctive rural feel and experience through visualisations. These two short stories along with ‘The suitcase’ by Shaun Tan, effectually communicate the issues of isolation, hardship and the environment to the audience.

The theme of isolation is thoroughly explored in the short story ‘The Drover’s Wife’, through the use of present tense, third person narrative voice and direct speech. ‘The Drover’s Wife’ comprises of a dual narrative, alternating between two stories within itself, that of a pioneering bush woman and the killing of the snake. The use of descriptive language in the opening paragraph immediately encourages the responder to visualise the setting of a ‘two-roomed house’ constructed with ‘round timber, slabs and stringy bark’. The continuation of the scene setting could have ended, however, Lawson proceeds to describe the negativity and isolation that the bush presents with the use of alliteration – ‘No undergrowth. Nothing to relieve the eye… Nineteen miles to the nearest sign of civilisation’. The repetition of the letter ‘n’ emphasises the detached and isolated world in which the drover’s wife and her children exist. The inclusion of the limitless ‘travel’ motif in ‘That monotony that makes a man longing to break away, travel as far as a train can go, sail as far as ships can sail’ imposes the monotonous, powerful setting of the outbacks landscape and the alienation of its inhabitants.

‘In a Dry Season’, immerses the responder in a world of endless monotony through the imagery of a boundless, scorching landscape, showing the isolation of locations through the repetitive images. A hyperbole is used to help the audience visualise the isolated communities. ‘Then you’ll have the bush along the New South Wales Western Line from Bathurst on’ exaggerates the idea of the outback appearing vast and mundane. The experience of isolation is commonly undertaken by outback dwellers and is explored through the language of ‘In a Dry Season’, particularly the technique of vernacular language in which Lawson commonly uses. Western New South Wales occupants are portrayed by the use of vernacular language such as ‘yer wanter’ helping the responder envision the country people through the dialect in which they speak creating a distinctive voice.

Distinctively visual images, particularly pertaining to the theme of isolation, include ‘The Suitcase’ by Shaun Tan. The initial impression of the drawing is created by the deliberately limited palette of sepia tones. The absence of colour immediately reflects the dull and mudane mood of the drawing, one of despair, sorrow and pessimism which is also apparent in the two protagonists faces conveying a loss of hope from the isolation that is yet to come. Symbols amongst the drawing also help convey isolation to the responder. The consistent spacing of the objects along the shelf create a repetitive feel of isolation, subconsciously conveying to the viewer the segregated feel of the drawing. The strategically placed clock positioned between the two protagonists represents the idea of time passing amidst the two, separating them from each other and reinforcing the idea of isolation.

Hardship is another theme apparent throughout ‘The Drover’s Wife’. A ‘gaunt sun brown woman’ and her ‘four ragged, dried-up looking children’ are left to brave the harshness of the surrounding environment while the drover is absent. These blunt descriptions and extended imagery of the characters generate a forbearing impression of the outback and those that dwell amongst it. The use of dry humour through the name of the dog, Alligator, is used to soften the harsh reality of the outback, however, also expresses a feeling of alienation. Hardship is also conveyed to the audience through the use of a matter-of-fact tone. ‘The kitchen has no floor – or, rather, an earthen one – called a ‘ground floor’ in this part of the bush’ communicates to the responder a sense of poverty and the hardships faced by the inhabitants of the bush. This is also reflected in the juxtaposition: ‘Thunder rolls and rain comes in torrent’, which is juxtaposed to ‘The drought of 18 – ruined him’. This illustrates the unpredictability of the outback, furthermore, building on the stoic and resilient characters that face destitution.

The extremely compact structure of ‘In a Dry Season’ manages to encompass hardship as one of its predominant themes. In order to convey Lawson’s feelings to the audience, he uses the technique of a paradox. ‘Death is about the only cheerful thing in the bush’, reveals that the hardship is vivid. Death is the only event considered to be ‘cheerful’ as it escapes the suffering that the outback entails. To establish a sense of rawness and poor rural development, the bitter truth of conditions out west is subtly apprised through sarcasm. ‘Native industry was represented at one place along the line by three tiles, a chimney-pot, and a length of piping on a slab’, implies that such makeshift circumstances are common, with little prosperity or comfort, growing on the theme of hardship. Lawson also addresses the issue of unemployment as another struggle those in the outback face. The political reference, ‘God forgive our social system!’ is an outburst Lawson uses to express his views, where hardships of the unemployed are evident, through this social comment. The use of imagery also increases the responders understanding of the issue of poverty in the outback where a town consisting of a ‘box-bark humpy with a clay chimney’ is described.

Many visually distinctive elements presented in ‘The Arrival’ incorporate the concept of hardship and privation. The two characters are evidently spending their last moment together before the husband departs for perhaps a long period of time. This can be seen through the travel symbol of the suitcase. The marriage of the two protagonists is tested, much the same as ‘The Drover’s Wife’, through the hardships of compromise and the sacrifice of each others time and presence. Through this constant trial and suffering, the viewer is given a sense of hope and optimism by the interlacing of the couples hands, comforting each other through such strife. The central focus of the image, the solicitous interlaced hands, leave the audience with a sense of reassurance, despite the struggles of the protagonists.

The harsh characteristics of the environment is another theme evident in ‘The Drover’s Wife’. Lawson longs to leave the harshness of his surroundings and such negative feelings towards the bush are expressed within his short stories. Sacrifices are to be made whilst living in the outback and this is clearly demonstrated through the strong development of the character, the drover’s wife. The symbol of the ‘Young Ladies’ Journal’, represents the wife’s feministic side which she has left behind in order to brave and survive the environment. ‘Her surroundings are not favourable to the development of the “womanly” or sentimental side of nature’, helps the audience to visualise the precise character of the wife, adding to the understanding of the merciless conditions she has grown such accustom to that she would feel ‘strange away from it’. The vastness and ruthlessness of the countryside is also highlighted through the use of repetition and unequivocal language. Illustrating a baron domain in which ‘There is nothing to see… not a soul meet’, effectively focuses on the broad surroundings of the drover’s wife. To further develop the negative, distinct experience of the outback, Lawson bluntly describes the harsh environment as a ‘bush with no horizon’. This unequivocal language evokes an atmosphere of endless monotony. Negative adjectives describing the surroundings of the drover’s wife help the audience to distinctively visual image from a dry and parched location – ‘stunted, rotten native apple-trees’ and ‘almost waterless creek’.

By concentrating on the severe reality of the environment, Lawson delivers an utterly uninviting journey to Bourke within the story, ‘In a Dry Season.’ Lawson cleverly derives the ‘inner artist’ of the individual by opening with the ‘reoccurring image of an artist’ motif. Henry addresses and invites the audience to ‘Draw a wire fence and a few ragged gums, and add some scattered sheep running away from the train’, immediately engaging the readers through the technique of imagery and the use of the motif, capturing the vastness and negative experience of the outback. Contrasting to the true harshness of the bush, Lawson romanticises the outback by presenting an artist who ‘might make a watercolour sketch’ of the outback, which alludes to a soft and gentle distinctively visual image contradicting the verifiable reality. Both the outback and its inhabitants are inveterate and hardened by the elements. By the use of negative adjectives of the landscape, Lawson implies the true harshness of the ‘ragged’ and ‘scattered’ bush. With only brief descriptions of people, lack of names and the absence of any softening female presence, the harshness of the outback is reinforced and demonstrated. Lawson also refers to the Macquaire as a ‘narrow, muddy gutter’, establishing the scarceness of the population and alluding to the title through the use of litotes.

The theme of environment plays a minor part in the illustration ‘The suitcase’, by Shaun Tan. The immediate surroundings of the couple, the kitchen, provide the audience with a glimpse into the life of a migrant. In such a fundamental section of the home, possessions are scarce, which allude to how the environment surrounding the couple is affecting them and their place within society, dictated by wealth. Although the protagonists lack belongings, the viewer is left with warm feelings of assurance and promise the steaming kettle emits, pertaining to a homely feel, contrasting to the restricted colours of the drawing.

Henry Lawson’s ‘The Drover’s Wife’ and ‘In a Dry Season’, along with ‘The suitcase’ by Shaun Tan, clearly convey distinctive experiences through distinctively visual techniques utilised by the composer. These experiences help the audience to interpret the texts and shape their understanding. Isolation, hardship and the environment are aspects included in these texts that help contribute to the audiences understanding.

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