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Henry Lawson or Banjo Paterson? Explain briefly your understanding of why these two authors were so different in their views of the Australian experience.

The Australian experience, alike the question of what makes someone an Australian, is truly complex. The stark contrast between the writings of Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson, makes this clear. Paterson appeals to Australia’s heroism, a youthful nation’s optimism and desire to achieve. Alternatively, Lawson portrays Australia realistically, allowing the country’s rougher, and less desirable elements to shine through within his writings.

Within his ballad “The Man from Snowy River” it is as though Paterson embodies the hopes of the young Australia within the equally young rider. Very much the archetypal “underdog” of the tale, it is the rider’s success and subsequent legacy as “a household word” that epitomises the aspirations of Australia as a nation. Australia wished to prove themselves to the well-established nations of the world, namely Britain, and Paterson profits from this national desire, playing into the hopes of the country. By presenting a scenario very similar to Australia’s, Paterson evokes a sense of triumph not only for the young rider, but also within his Australian audience, as they can relate to its message.

In contrast, Lawson’s poem “Faces of the Street” is a direct challenge to the idealism and optimism of the Australia being presented within works like Paterson’s. This is made abundantly apparent in the opening line of this poem “They lie, the men who tell us in a loud decisive tone/That want is here a stranger, and that misery’s unknown”. Lawson’s metaphoric depiction of “want” and personification of “misery”, make his message clear. He is bringing his audience down from, in his eyes, the unwarranted gaiety that works like “The Man from Snowy River” evoke. Lawson challenges writers like Paterson to truly see and present Australia realistically, presenting its flaws, rather than its aspirations, as to achieve true change within Australian society.

Hence, both Lawson and Paterson present different aspects of the Australian experience. Despite the obvious conflict that works such as “The Man from Snowy River” and “Faces of the Street” have, both add to the rich tapestry that is the Australian experience on the whole.


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  1. Cameron, firstly this piece was overall done extremely well, you should be very proud. Your points were clear and detailed and relevant to the topic. They were thoroughly supported by various language techniques and examples, which enabled your points to be conveyed clearly to the reader. Your ability to draw both texts together to juxtapose the way they represent the Australian experience was done flawlessly. I would also like to comment on your fantastic use of punctuation and grammar. I honestly can’t wait to read more of your work. Keep it up


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