Distinctly Visual

Topics: Outback, Short story Pages: 5 (1609 words) Published: February 28, 2012
Distinctively visual texts are texts that allow the audience to create an image within their mind, using an array of language and visual techniques. Henry Lawson, an Australian bushman and author of the late nineteenth century, demonstrates the experiences of bush life through his numerous short stories. Other texts however, like a photograph or a painting, create an image or a scene in the viewers' mind to demonstrate particular experiences expressed within the text. Frederick McCubbin, also from the late nineteenth century, displays life in outback Australia through his paintings.

Mostly, those who lived in remote areas of outback Australia in the late nineteenth century experienced hardships as a part of their daily life. Lawson's story The Drover's Wife illustrates the rough life of women in the bush and the hardships these women face. The woman of the story, placed as the protagonist, is left unnamed. This depersonalisation indicates that Lawson is stereotyping all women who live in the bush. The story describes the woman as highly independent, as she lives the majority of her life without her husband or other adult company for lengths at a time, only her children for company. "She is used to being left alone. She once lived like this for eighteen months. As a girl she built all the usual castles in the air; but all her girlish hopes and aspirations have long been dead." Lawson emphasised the woman's hardship through the contrast between her old life in the city, and life in the outback. The opening paragraphs of The Drover's Wife illustrate the harshness of the environment in which the woman lives, before venturing into the bulk of the story. The direct description of the house in such a matter-of-fact tone and the detailed imagery of the flora, like the "stunted, rotten native apple trees," introduces the element of hardship early in the piece, impressing on the reader the notion that bush life was a struggle.

The hardship of life in the outback is expressed throughout the short story In a Dry Season, also by Henry Lawson. In a Dry Season paints the picture of the outback, from the perspective of a passenger on a passing train. Lawson uses the motif of an artist to describe what the passenger was seeing on his journey. "By way of variety, the artist might make a water-coloured sketch of a fettler's tent on the line." Lawson builds the image with descriptive language all throughout the piece, and the artist motif allows Lawson to describe the scene in visual terms. In a Dry Season has a generally harsh tone, only broken by the element of black humor and paradox. "Death is about the only cheerful thing in the bush." By this statement, Lawson attempts to soften the harshness of this life. The element of black humor allows the reader to understand the seriousness and the bleakness of the bush. Similarly, the painting titled Down on His Luck by Frederick McCubbin captures the element of hardship in the bush, differentiating from Lawson's stories in that McCubbin presents this experience through the use of visual techniques rather than language. The painting depicts a man alone in the bush, sitting beside a fire and his swag, looking down towards the ground. The man's down-cast face suggests uncontentment and disappointment, and furthermore, hardship. His clothes are worn and discoloured; this emphasises the hardships and struggles of this man's life. The earthy colours of his clothes also represent a connection with the land - but the lack of vivid greens in the drab trees and plants indicates that although the flora is alive, nothing is thriving but instead struggling to grow. This signifies the man's misfortunes in his work, which involves the land.

Lawson's The Drover's Wife is characterised as a bleak picture and this is directly stated in "there is nothing to see and not a soul to meet." The bush wife's experiences reflect the unpleasantness of isolation and living remotely. This is enforced by the stressing...
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