Ieas of Culture in Gwen Harwood's Poetry

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'Complex ideas about culture are communicated through the specific detail of construction of a literary text. Discuss with reference to one or more works you have studied.' Australian poet Gwen Harwood was renowned for her strongly opinionated approach towards the subjects of her poetry. Harwood’s poetry often reflects her own experiences of the arrogant injustice of Australian culture in the 1950s and 60s. Harwood personally felt the harsh discrimination of Australia at the time, after being rejected for publication due to editors with prejudiced views of gender and equality. Harwood’s poetry articulates what people of the time generally could not or would not say themselves. Harwood’s poetry is an expression of her opinions toward the discriminatory, cruel and false imitations of high society present in Australian culture in the 1950s and 60s. The essence of such obvious and critical opinions are communicated through Harwood’s adoption of a satirical tone in “At the Arts Club” and the limited narration of both “Monday” and “Suburban Sonnet”. Each of these poems reflect upon the complexity of Australian culture in their own sense, revealing Harwood’s critique on the confinements and masquerade that form Australian culture in the 1950s and 60s. “At the Arts Club” depicts Australia’s most refined members of society to produce false imitations of class and culture, thus shocking readers of the time as such ideas of Australian culture were often hushed and considered complex. Through adopting a condescending, satirical tone to the poem, Harwood mocks society’s efforts to be seen as cultured and upper class. A woman with “tinted curls” and “ginger pearls” is presented in such a manner that it appears obvious Harwood is mocking her. Upon the discovery of learning the woman’s hair colour is “tinted”, readers understand that she is not naturally this person portrays herself to be, and this notion is further reinforced with the concept of “ginger pearls” as this can be...
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