Cosi Shows Us That There Is as Much Madness in the Outside World Than There Is in an Asylum.

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Loius Nowra’s play, Cosi, set in Australia in the 1970’s ironically suggests that although the play is set in a mental institution, most of the madness occurs in the outside world. This is explored through the actions of the government in the Vietnamese war that lead to strong anti-war attitudes and a seemingly foolish society that value ‘free love’ instead of fidelity. Nowra also blurs the line between sanity and insanity, implying that ‘crazy’ people aren’t necessarily as mad as the community labels them to be.

The time setting in Cosi truly depicts a country stuck in madness. The Menzies government announced that troops would be sent to Vietnam to support America in a war that hardly involved either of the countries at the time. The war was between North and South Vietnam and many Australians thought it was absurd that Australia was getting involved in such a wasteful battle that ended up resulting in many lives sacrificed and a war lost. These actions fuelled intense emotions in several characters, such as Nick and Lucy. Nick even makes suggestions that sound like madness, he wouldn’t be bothered if the moratorium included ‘barricades and bombs’ he reinforces this with a “We want changes and we want them now’. By setting Cosi in the anti Vietnam war era, Nowra is making a statement about the sanity of society during this time and by juxtapositioning this with the asylum patients, he allows us to ponder the fact that the outside world may be more ‘mad’ than a group of asylum patients.

Additionally, Nowra explores the values that the general public hold in comparison to values the mental patients hold in helping us question who is really mad, especially in terms of love. The 1970’s could be described as a decade of “free love and orgies”, a decade where love wasn’t important compared to things such as “shelter, equality, health and money”. This idea is first implied when Lewis is interested in directing a play on politics, The Rule and the Exception due...
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