Identity and Belonging Cosi

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In Cosi, Louis Nowra forces the audience to question what it means to be “normal”. Explain.

“Cosi” is a novel, written by Lewis Nowra, which takes an affectionate look at the madness and mayhem in a world where “sanity” does not exist. Throughout the play the characters are developed in a way that they help the reader grasp an understanding of the main issues dealt with by each of the characters. This is achieved by some of the characters remaining static throughout the play as they do not develop greatly or change in a way that will affect their attitudes and values and view on the issues presented. The way in which characters are developed or left static helps the reader to understand the main issues of society’s perception of the mentally ill and attitudes toward the Vietnam War.

Society’s thoughts on the Vietnam War in 1971 are presented to the audience through the development of Henry, a non-speaking mental patient whose father fought against communism in Korea. Nowra has carefully constructed Henry’s character to give the reader a strong understanding of how mentally ill people are and should be perceived, and presents different ideas and attitudes towards the Vietnam War, whilst being able to engage the reader in the play. With the issue of the war, Henry is drawn to talk and is offended at Lewis’ idea to dress the soldiers is communist uniform which creates a divide between what is though to be normal and abnormal behaviour.

A great example of a character who presents an abnormal state of mind is Cherry. This Lewis-addicted romantic and compulsive liar brings lightness to the play which lifts the atmosphere among the cast. Her obsession with Lewis and childlike behaviour forces the reader to categorise her as abnormal, this is also used as an opportunity to lightly explore some aspects of the human condition of those living with a mental illness and their relationship with the sane characters surrounding them.

In contrast with those suffering...
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