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Identity Through the Ages - Australians

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Australians have been represented and adapted through films and plays for many years. The representation of Australian identity relevant today is clearly depicted through the dialogue and performance from the play Breaker Morant. The examination of this play will discuss the Australian heritage through authority, mate ship and larrikinism over the years.

Australians have a very strong anti-authoritarian sense of humour, again a reflection of our convict past. This is evident in the characteristics of both Harry Morant and Peter Hancock. Morant is represented as a gentleman who follows orders both written and verbal and has a reputation as an individual leading the Bush Veldt Carabineers. Although he is portrayed as a well respected officer he is involved in unorthodox military engagements. On the other hand Peter Hancock, is an experienced hard living Australian from the bush. He was more interpretive of orders and brought his own justice to the situation. These two characters portrayed different representation of authority. The English Morant represents authority more so than Hancock who is Australian, this represents Australian as anti-authoritarian. This laconic attitude fully represents the strong Australian anti-authoritarian behaviour.

In Australia, mate ship developed from the culture of convict survival and is embedded in the Australian psyche. Mate ship in Breaker Morant was evident throughout the play. All men showed true mate ship by sticking by each other, in time or need and managed............ HELP?

In spite of the time difference from the First World War to the 21st century life, mate ship is an outcome of the strong bond that men had at War, and will continue on in Australia for years to come.

A wonderful quality unique to our Australian literature is the captivating and carefree spirit of larrikinism. This characteristic celebrates our national character and identity. Breaker Morant is an example that clearly depicts this Australian quality throughout the entirety of the play. Their attitude, even at serious at times, portrays a way of life that represents Australians as ' live for the moment' and are always relaxed. Peter Hancock, who was a hard living Australian, is a illustration of how Australian men behave even in hard times, e.g. when they are sentenced to death. His joking ways and flippant manner is a true representation of Australians. Harry Morants last line in the play " Shoot straight you bastards and don't make a mess of it'', shows evidence of, even in his dying words, the true Australian larrikinism.

Representations of Australian characteristics are strongly portrayed in the play Breaker Morant. It is clearly evident that these recognisable traits of mateship, authority and larrikinism are the main elements that constitute what is the Australian Identity.



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