Change is a process, transition or alteration that affects all aspects of life and can affect attitudes, beliefs and behaviours. Michael Gow’s play ‘Away’ conflicts emotional, spiritual and mental change expressed through the characters along their journey of change. Gow has chosen characters such as Coral, Tom and Gwen to demonstrate the different types of changes that occur in the play ‘Away’. Gow uses techniques such as Intertextuality, allusion, structure, stage direction and symbolism to present the transformations the characters experience. In the song ‘Waiting on the world to change’ composed by John Myer, change is demonstrated through the reference of war and the hope of a change in future. Myer uses poetic techniques and symbolism to show the changes presented in the song. Change can take many forms and has a range of effects on those who experience it.
Emotional change is displayed through both texts although it is displayed through Gow’s play ‘Away’ more so than in Myer’s song. Gow presents emotional change demonstrated by the Character coral. The emotional breakdown experienced by Coral due to her son’s death showed the audience her inability to function normally. Her journey is about an emotional recovery as she lost her social identity and struggles to find connection with others as she “can’t find anything to say” (Act 2, scene 2). Coral learns to symbolically ‘walk again’ and reconnect with the living world and accepts that there is life and death. Change can take many forms and has a range of effects on those who experience it.
The use of Intertextuality of a play with in a play represents the life of the characters. Coral’s ‘Stranger at the shore’ symbolises Coral’s internal change and it shows that she has overcome her emotional, mental and spiritual conflicts and her character has encountered transformation. “I’m walking, I’m walking” Coral says in the ‘stranger at the shore’ at the end of the play which symbolises her internal change and the acceptance of her son’s death. Similarly, the sense of emotional change expressed through the lyrics in John Myer’s song is helplessness as he sings “It’s hard to beat the system, when we’re standing at a distance.” John Myer is expressing frustration through emotive language in the fact that he alone cannot change the world to a more positive place. Change can take many forms and has a range of effects on those who experience it.
Spiritual change was explored through the character of Tom in Gow’s play ‘Away’ as he demonstrates to his parents that he is aware of his approaching death and he accepts his fate. This is shown through the intertextuality technique of a play within a play and it acts as a symbolic metaphor used to represent the life of the character and an insight of what will happen to them as the play continues. As Tom becomes more accepting of his illness, his character demonstrates spiritual changes. Gow uses the structure of the play to the advantage of displaying Tom’s spiritual change throughout the play as not everything is revealed at once, keeping the audience engaged. When Tom’s illness is revealed, it inspires other characters such as Gwen, to encounter change also. When Gwen is informed of Tom’s illness, her thoughts of him change and in turn her personality towards others changed also. The reality of Tom’s death alters the perspectives of the characters and their encounter spiritual change in the way that they learn to appreciate the value of the present, but also to know where they are heading. It can be seen that change can take many forms and has a range of effects on those who experience it.
Gow uses Gwen’s character to display mental change. At the beginning of the play Gwen is highly critical of Tom, unaware of his condition. Her change can be demonstrated through her dialogue as at the beginning of the play it shows negativity and seen as a source of conflict which changes to caring and of value. “This case won’t close” is an example of the attitude and conflict that Gwen was expressing before her character encountered change. Her change in attitude and perspective made her realise what she has is of real value. The techniques that present Gwens lack of self-understanding are stage props. In act 4, scene 2, the Bex she refers to was used as a remedy for what she can’t cope with. Later on Gwen rejects the prop of Bex and tries to come to terms with her new self.
The turning point of Gwens change is the knowledge of Tom’s illness. Stage directions such as the miming in act 5, scene 1 where no dialogue was used to the reconciliation taking place between characters such as Coral and Roy and Gwen and her family. The relationship between Gwen and her family after her changes becomes closer as Gwen shows them affection. An example of this would be the difference in reactions when Gwen received her Christmas presents. She was affectionate and thankful, showing her character’s change by comparing that to her previous reaction when Jim ‘forgot’ the presents at home. Changes can take many forms and has a range of effects on those who experience it.
Gow uses allusion in his play ‘Away’ which helps to present conventional meanings about the concept of change to the audience, achieved through the use of Shakespearean texts. It is a stage direction as the fairies in the opening scene symbolise a storm which refers to the internal conflict within the characters and the consequences of their individual changes just like a storm creates changes after it has occurred. The storm is a necessary destruction that brings the characters together on a ‘magical’ beach to be restored and reconciled. The characters at this point have all experienced change and the storm is a catalyst of their transformation. Upon coming home after the family holidays, the play completes a full circle by ending the play where it started. As the play completed a full circle, so have the characters that have undergone a total transformation in outlook by the end of the play. Shown through Gow’s play ‘Away’, changes can take many forms and has a range of effects on those who experience it.
Alternatively, ideas of change presented in the Myer’s text/clip are different to those shown in ‘Away’. Ideas of change presented are that change is gradual and takes time. The composer’s attitude towards change is that its affects may not be immediate and this is expressed through the repetition of the phrase ‘waiting’. The repetition emphasises the need for time as well as hope that change will come one day. It serves as an indication that change is gradual and this reflects on the message being expressed by Myer. In order for change to occur, Myer expresses that a change of attitude and perspectives is needed. “We see everything that’s going wrong with the world and those who lead it.” These lyrics assist in conveying the composer’s message that people don’t have the right attitudes or contributions to make a change. It can be seen that change can take many forms and has a range of effects on those who experience it.
Change is clearly expressed through both texts and provides similar values or concepts in encountering change. Coral’s mental and emotional state is overcome by the acceptance of her son’s death while Tom and Gwen present spiritual and mental change when the reality of Tom’s condition has been recognised. Gow presented change through techniques such as symbolism, structure, stage directions, allusions and intertextuality. John Myer’s text resembles change with the use of poetic techniques and symbolism. The song displays the hopefulness and determination for a changing future. Both texts use techniques to show the change encountered and both focus on the value of change. As it if evident in both texts, change can take many forms and has a range of effect on those who experience it.
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