The Last Outlaw: Ned Kelly as Australian Icon

Topics: Ned Kelly, Australia, History of Australia Pages: 8 (3144 words) Published: June 23, 2012
The Last Outlaw:
Ned Kelly as Australian Icon

Rynatha Vietadiella P.
English Department, Faculty of Humanities
Airlangga University

Every nation must have a historical figure of the hero which is attached as their identity. Usually they are figures which opponents of the law arbitrary, defender of the oppressed, close by the poor. The most memorable of them, of course, their courage. The common themes of outlaw cross nationally, such as “friend of the poor, oppressed, forced into outlawry, brave, generous, courteous, does not indulge in unjustified violence, trickster, betrayed, lives on after dead” (Tranter and Donoghue 2010). It can be seen in many outlaws such as Robin Hood in England, Jesse James and Billy the Kid in United States, si Pitung as Indonesian local outlaw, and Australian’s Ned Kelly. Those outlaws were more than criminals, but for the poor people and law victims, they were a hero and salvation. The characteristics associated with outlaw heroes – rebellious but brave, fighters against injustice and oppression, chivalrous in their treatment of women and the poor, and embodying a sense of fair play – comprise the characteristics generally associated with Ned Kelly in Australia (Tranter and Donoghue 2010).

It is about 131 years since Ned Kelly, the Last Outlaw, was hanged at Melbourne Gaol for criminal acts he did. However, until now the name of Ned Kelly continued to live as a part of history and culture of Australia. Many media have perpetuated the story in various forms and leave a lasting impression on Australian society. Although his lifetime filled with a hard life and closely with the criminal world, the heroic story in Ned Kelly’s life has established him as a symbol of Australian identity and most famous legendary icon in Australia. It is inevitable until recent time, people have two points of views for Ned Kelly figure. Most of youngster, middle-low class, and people who feel same injustice feeling like Ned Kelly have placed him as an important and inspiring figure. There are many personalities, although contrary, in Ned Kelly’s self. On the one hand, he was a victim of law injustice. He was also a very loyal person and treats his family and friends very well. For people in his neighborhood, he was a friend and hero. In the other hand, Ned Kelly was a treacherous, thief, stubborn, and a murderer. But his figure is always associated with heroism and bravery icon of Australia. This paper is an analysis and researches of this more important and interesting character of Australia: Ned Kelly. To find out why many people, especially in Australia make Ned Kelly become a hero and national symbol for them. A 19th Century young man that has an everlasting story, until this modern 21st Century. Does he deserve to be a hero or icon? He had a dramatically life that change many people’s mind of the outlaw. He was a criminal, murderer, and thief that did not make people who knew him well felt afraid. I will also try to discover why his life so influence many aspect in Australia until this day, and several Australian arguments about Ned Kelly in this modern era. Many media has turned him into the main role in their story that makes him very well-known in Australia. Most of children, youngster, and adult know about Ned Kelly and his contradictive self. His life also brought changes in his hometown, neighbourhood, and country. It always interesting to searching about a character that can make both positive and negative feeling when you heard the name, like Ned Kelly.

Two Sides of Ned Kelly
Edward (Ned) Kelly was born in Beveridge, Victoria just north of Melbourne in June 1855. When he was alive, there were many Australians who believed no man on earth could stand against him (Joy and Prior 1971: 65). As his friend, Aaron Sherritt (who betrayed the Kelly Gang)...
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