The Dressmaker Views and Values

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The Dressmaker
Set in a small rural town in the 1950’s, Rosalie Ham, the author of the ‘Dressmaker,’ has written the novel in such a way that presents the audience with an exquisitely detailed portrayal of the characters. She critiques the malicious behaviours of many of the townspeople’s values highlighted within the wheat-belt community. Ham challenges the reader to view their ideas and morals through her empathetic portrayal as their actions are understood, however the hypocrisy and bigotry that are exhibited by significant characters depict their idiosyncrasies through Ham’s comedic portrayal. Rosalie Ham highlights the extreme hatred of the town for those who do not meet their acceptable standards. The people of Dungatar exhibit bitter behaviours through their constant gossip and marginalisation of those who reside on the peripheral of the town; those are not deemed suitable in their community. (Mad) Molly Dunnage is introduced by Ham as a ‘mad woman and crone’ who is seen by characters as an outsider ironically living on ‘The Hill.’ She is ostracised by the people because of her past; in giving birth and raising a bastard child, a decision that was frowned upon in that society. Throughout the years, Molly is disregarded by the members of the community but continues to have insight on the occurrences and events that take place in the town. Ham shows this through Molly’s honesty, that within Dungatar, ‘everybody knows everything about everyone but no one ever tittle tattles because then someone else’ll tell on them.’ The characters have two sides of themselves, one which they choose to reveal to the world, and the other that is kept hidden inside. Their eccentricities and secrets have become accepted, but Molly, her daughter, and the Mc Swineys aren’t so lucky, they are victimised and isolated from this idea. As the townspeople will not let her escape their judgements, Molly becomes adapted to the mad character they have described her as ‘there is no point...
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