Barbara Baynton: A Short Stories Of Bush Studies

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Barbara Baynton in her series of short stories Bush Studies, has an imagined view of life in England. She portrays the bush as a dark and evil place to reside. She places England at the top of her psychological and social hierarchy. She views the lifestyle there to be safer and more acceptable. Baynton places Australian society below that of England. She does this due to the fact that at the time of writing Australia was only a new fledgling country and it didn’t have the predetermined social order that England had. Baynton views the city lifestyle as highly civilized and intelligent. Baynton then compares this to the bush where society is almost non existent.

Baynton challenges the genres that were available for her style of writing. She mixes between several genres in her writings. The best example of this is “A Dreamer”. This short story is much more of a gothic novel. Within it the landscape is evil. Its night time and a storm is raging overhead. Baynton brings life to the story by personifying the bush. The main character in this story traverses the bush to reach her mother’s house. The landscape is gothic and has a nightmarish feel to it. Baynton gives the bush life and personifies it when the bush attacks the character, trying to force her away “The wind savagely snapped them lashing her unprotected face …with their stripped fingers”. Baynton adds to the horror of the story with the storm and the “night workers” who are making a coffin preparing for a person’s funeral. This story is later to be shown as a psychological journey to her mother’s home more than a physical journey as the character is filled with foreboding grief over her mother’s death “the dreamer to dream no longer”.
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