Set in the Australian summer of 1967, Michael Gow’s Away is an elaborate play which explores the ideas of self- discovery and change. Through the war affected nation, three families, each from different social classes, depart on an iconic Australian holiday to the beach. In the play, Gow utilises the characters to demonstrate that going away physically is intrinsically linked to their mental developments. With the help of references to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer night’s Dream, Away uses Gwen and Coral to show the significant psychological changes made by the characters during holidays to the coast. Tom throughout the play acts as a catalyst for the change in other characters and is associated with Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Before the vacation, Gwen is depicted as a materialistic snob who constantly tries to pick fights and goes great lengths to prove that she is superior. At the beginning of Away, Gow introduces Gwen’s spiteful and materialistic nature when she insults Tom and his family by saying that ‘They shouldn’t be going a holiday if they can’t afford one.’(p11). Her snide and aggressive nature is also seen later in the play, when Gwen is packing bags with Meg; Gwen criticises Meg’s behaviour and tries to prove to Meg that she is far more superior. Further in the play, Gwen purposefully leaves Meg’s Christmas present behind in hope to start a fight; when they do fight, she places the blame on Jim for being careless. Yet, when Meg discovers that Gwen had left the gift behind on purpose, Gwen shifts the argument onto Meg’s behaviour and calls her ‘A nasty, snide girl’ (p32). Gwen’s behaviour in this scene emphasises her spiteful and bellicose nature as she purposefully picks fights just to prove that she is the dominant family member. It can be seen that Gwen was a selfish and bellicose person before she undergoes her transforming journey of self-discovery. Gwen’s remarkable transformation in her character is triggered by Tom’s role as a...
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