Madness is in the eye of the beholder. Is this Lewis Nowra’s view in ‘Cosi’?
Louis Nowra shows that madness is often viewed through the eye of the beholder which is evident within the juxtaposition of the Nick and Lewis in the play of Cosi. Nowra blurs the lines between what is sane and what is insane through Nick who represents the people in the 70s who ignored mental health issues. Also Louis, who on the other hand, represents a wave of new tolerant thinking where mental illness is not seen as a stigma or source of humour. As well as this, through society’s views and values, people are taught to view people with mental issues in a bad light therefore tainting people’s ideas about what people with mental issues are really like.
Through Nick, we see the view of what many Australians in the 70’s attitudes were like about mental health patients. Nick’s superficiality comes across at a number of points, where he says “You have become a right wing nut, haven’t you? You belong here. They’re coming away to take me away, ha ha, to the funny farm”. The use of this quote really questions how the perceptions about mental patients became demoralising and also how normal it was to act in such an uncivil demeanour. Many people in the 70s were uneducated and followed what the so called ‘normal’ view about what people with mental issues were like. Nick uses words such as “loonies” and “nut” to describe the mentally unstable patients and doesn’t understand that they are just people. The meaning of the words “funny farm” is a slang term for a facility for psychiatric patients, a place where they take care of ‘crazy’ people and Nick use of this word really brings home the demeanour of how people reacted to people in mental institutions. Nowra has constructed the play so that when we see the play from Lewis’s view, we see that Nick and the rest of society are the people who had skewed thoughts and views on the mental patients. Nowra also shows us through Nick that madness...
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