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Distinctively Visual Essay

Composers create distinctively visual images to draw aspects that they are presenting in their texts. This helps the reader to understand and visualise the characters responses to significant aspects of life. The Author Henry Lawson uses these distinctive images in his short stories ‘The Drovers Wife’ and ‘The Loaded Dog’ to help portray the harsh realities of living in the Australian bush. These realities create significant experiences for the individuals in his stories as they are faced with hardships, mateship and love. Similarly, John Misto’s play ’The Shoe-Horn Sonta’ and Ramon Tongs ‘African Beggar’ use distinctively visual language to let the responder engage with the characters and their world.

‘The Loaded Dog’ explores the significant experience of mateship through the characters; Dave Regan, Jim Bently, Andy Page and their young retriever Tommy who is described with great visual imagery as an ‘overgrown pup, a big, foolish, four-footed mate, who was always slobbering round them and lashing their legs with his heavy tail that swung round like a stock-whip’. The story starts off slow introducing the gold mines that the story takes place in, using elaborate instructions to explain the process of mining and cartridge construction through verbs including ‘sewed’, ‘bound’ and ‘pasted’ which gives the reader a distinctively visual image of how life was for the gold miners. The author uses Australian jargon and vernacular language such as ’Don’t foller us!’ and ’no mucking around’ throughout the story to give the reader a more visual image of how the men of the area communicate.

The story’s pace exponentially increases along with it’s humour as the storyline develops and as each complication arises. Dialogue and punctuation, such as ‘dashes’, carry us along with the action painting a picture in the readers mind of the events taking place. Dave who is seen as the ‘ideas man’ decides to create a cartridge to blow the local fish out of the water to eat and while he is at away at working on the cartridge, Tommy grabs the cartridge in his play, setting it alight in the fire, which establishes the main issue in the story. Lawson uses a humorous tone throughout this scene to give the reader a more visual image of what is being played out ‘close behind him, was the retriever with the cartridge in his mouth – wedged into his broadest and silliest grin’.

Another short story composed by Lawson similar to ’The Loaded Dog’ entitled ‘The Drovers Wife’ creates powerful images through the use of distinctively visual language that enables the reader to feel the hardships of the characters. Lawson begins the story with the distinctively visual image of the harsh landscape ‘The bush consists of stunted, rotting native apple trees. No undergrowth, Nothing to relieve the eye save the darker green of a few she oaks which are sighing above the narrow waterless creek’. This descriptive language allows the responder to visualise the harsh outback scenery. The drovers wife is seen as a protective mother and a hardened battler against the disasters of the Australian bush.

The use of alliteration ‘no undergrowth, nothing to relieve the eye… nineteen miles to the nearest civilisation’ accentuates how isolated the Wife is from society. Lawson uses powerful verbs when creating a distinctively visual image in the responders mind in ‘The Drover’s Wife’. When the drover’s wife goes to hit the snake, ‘snatches’ is used to create images of immediacy and courage within the responder’s mind, whilst ‘darts’ is used to create an image of threat, the woman has no hesitation in hitting the snake and she darts to protect her children.

Similar to John Lawson’s stories, John Misto’s Australian play ‘The Shoe-Horn Sonta’ uses an array of distinctively visual techniques to highlight the significant aspects of the story. Through dramatic film and editing techniques, and powerful dialogue, Misto explores the story of hundreds and thousands of women imprisoned by the Japanese in South-East Asia. The composer uses juxtaposition as the dialogue consists of both private and public conversations to create an image in the responders mind of the powerful links between the public and private voices between the two main characters, Sheila and Bridie. The opening scene shows Bridie re-enacting the kowtow, a tribute to the emperor of Japan ‘Bridie stands in a spotlight. She bows stiffly from the waist, and remains in this position.’ These stage directions allow the reader to visualise how Misto wants it to be performed, letting the reader share their experiences, and feel engaged with Bridie.

Ramon Tong’s ‘African Beggar’ utilises distinctively visual language techniques to create and perceive a relationship with the persona and his world and therefore understand the challenges he faces. The metaphor ‘a heap of verminous rags and matted hair’ is used to establish an image of a ‘thing’ rather than a human as ‘verminous’ is usually associated with flies and ‘matted hair’ creates images of an unhygienic lifestyles in the responders mind. The tone of the story suddenly changes in the third stanza and enables the reader to re-establish the relationship and perception that was previously created with the beggar. ‘lost in the trackless jungle of his pain’ is an example of symbolism used the show that the beggar feels pain in his whole body. This stanza creates an image of someone struggling for life and gives reason for the reader to feel sympathetic towards the beggar, this is highlighted in the line ‘lying all alone’.

In conclusion, these texts all use powerful distinctively visual techniques to the let the reader understand and visualise the personas and their worlds, and the hardships that they face.

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