Ned Kelly is an iconic Australian legend who is known as one of the most famous outlaws in Australia. Some know of him as a villain, others know him as a hero. But what was he really? The 2003 film “Ned Kelly” featuring Heath Ledger as Ned, portrays the famous outlaw as a tragic hero rather than a murderer and a thief. By researching Ned’s events, accomplishments and endeavours, it tells us that Ned was in fact a villain rather than a hero. The following essay will highlight why it is that Ned Kelly is seen as both a villain and a hero. In 1854 Edward Kelly was born in Victoria to Irish parents, John (Red) Kelly and Ellen Quinn. He was the eldest of eight children and was brought up on rural property. A the age of 12 John Kelly died and Ned had to take responsibility for the man of the house. Having a large family with no financial income was tough for the Kelly family. Faced with poverty, many poor families just like the Kelly’s were forced to steal horse and cattle from wealthy residents. Being Irish and having a father who was an ex-convict, the Kelly’s were seen as lower class folk and so work was hard to obtain. At just age 16, Ned was convicted of stealing cattle and horses and was sent to jail for three years. He was released in 1974. During this time his mother had re-married to a man named George King who Ned began to work with. However this “work” consisted of stealing horses. Ned’s way of living as a criminal was not because he necessailry wanted to, it was simply the only way he could provide for his family. This is the reason Kelly supporters see Ned as a hero as he stood up for his family and did all he could to keep them alive and safe. As Ned grew up he began to take on the role as an Australian criminal. At the age of 24 his actions towards the police, his family and the community allowed everyone to see that he was becoming a dangerous person. It was this point in time that Ned was accused of shooting a police officer in the wrist...
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* Barry, John V.. "Biography - Edward (Ned) Kelly - Australian Dictionary of Biography." ADB Home - Australian Dictionary of Biography. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Nov. 2012. <http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/kelly-edward-ned-3933>.
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