Throughout history the Australian identity and its associated values have been represented through distinctively visual language. Henry Lawson uses many evocative and powerful language techniques to convey his thoughts and feelings. This is clearly shown in “the drovers wife” and “in a dry season”. Other narratives also utilise the many language techniques to convey the distinctively visual image and is shown in “the man from Snowy River” by Banjo Patterson. All three texts reveal both positive and negative values which are indicative of the Australian image.
Through the forms and language of these texts, and the values of larrikinism, heroism, humour, environment and realism, they alter the responder’s perceptions and understand the perceptions of Australia and its identity. Larrikinism is a significant element in the culture and image of Australia and has emerged repeatedly in texts over the ages. This Australian value is clearly displayed in “in a dry season” as the protagonist personally introduces the responder to an archetypical bushman “about Byrock we met the bush liar in all his glory; he was dressed like-like bush larrikin”.
Through the use of cliche, a hyperbole and colloquialism, Lawson portrays a distinctively visual image of the typical Australian Bush larrikin. The value of humour is shown and displays a more authentic contemporary Australian image. This idea is clearly echoed through the comical attitudes of the Bushmen in “the loaded dog”, “Bushmen say that the kitchen jumped off its piles and on again”. The hyperbolic humour and personification show how the Bushmen stay calm and joke after a potentially disastrous situation.
Likewise humour is also revealed in “in a dry season” as the travelling passenger witnesses the different characters on his journey, “god bless the publican, and the coach-driver! ”. The humorous tone, hyperbole and blasphemy reveal how the passenger makes his own mockery at others whilst travelling through the countryside. Evidently, humour alleviates the grind of the monotonous outback and reduces the boringness of day to day life. Lawson has effectively used language to provide the responder with a greater understanding/ knowledge of the typical Australian identity and its associated values.
Correspondingly, the ideas of realism and heroism are conveyed in “the man from snowy river” this short story was written between 1880 and 1890 and during the era when as Australia looked to the bush for the mythology and heroic characters. Similar to Lawson, Patterson’s realist, rather than romanticised version of the bush is more authentic. The protagonist is introduced through descriptive language “a stripling on a small and weedy beast”, the composer creates a visual of “the man from snowy river”. He raced him down the mountain like a torrent” and “any slip was death”, the figurative language, descriptive use of words and simile emphasises the protagonists heroic conduct and courageous action by conquering the bush. The idiom of “where a horses hoof strike firelight from the Flintstones every stride” creates a visual of the dominance of the Australian bush. The composer effectively highlights the themes of heroism and realism, also through the use of language to shape meaning to the audience through distinctively visual images of the Australian bush life.
Figurative elements in the environment are another aspect of Australia which helps shape our perceptions. Through the sketch “in a dry season” the bushland is described as rugged, unique and isolated. This is illustrated as the intrusive narrator uses the visual motif of art to depict the bushland. “Draws a wire fence and a few rugged gums, and add some scattered sheep running away from the train”. Through the use of alliteration and descriptive language, the powerful visuals portray the repetitive sameness as the Australian outback.
The omniscient protagonist continues his journey through the countryside of NSW, “somebody told me the country was very dry on the other side of the Nevertire. They talk of settling people on the land! Better settle in it”. The exclamation mark, emphasis and italics reveal how dry and dull the outback of NSW must be. Clearly the Australian environment is unique and beautiful, however its rough conditions may seem daunting to those who haven’t experienced it, a consistency evident in all eras. In contemporary society, these unique values continue to portray the perceptions of Australia.