Essay, 3 pages (550 words)


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??? Identity is both concrete and elusive???. Evaluate this statement in light of your studies. In your response make reference to your prescribed text and two related texts.

The concept of identity is very much the concept of humanness. Although there are aspects of identity that are relatively deliberate, conscious and inert, much of our identity is contradictory, elusive and subconscious. Identity is both concrete and elusive because these elements are also the very nature of our humanity.

The constructual elements of texts such as Away by Michael Gow, A Journey With John Doyle ??“ a feature article by Linda Van Nunen, Sky High ??“ a narrative by Hannah Robert, and the film American Beauty??¦Look Closer (ABLC) directed by Sam Mendes all reveal the miasmic interplay of the conscious and the subconscious in identity. Away is an iconically Australian play set in a time of significant social and political change. The question of an ??? Australian Identity??? was a crucial aspect of the emerging national psyche. Moreover, the play can be interpreted as a personified Australia of coexisting opposites. Gow recreates the mood of the time and gives the Australia in the play a certain ambiguous personality. The readily identifiable stereotypes and archetypes in the cast are used to great effect to highlight the subconscious contradictions in Gow??™s Australia.

The experiences of the young, hopeful, reactionary, boomer generation (Tom and Meg) contrast with the older, conservative, establishmentarian Australia (Gwen, Coral Roy and Vic). Identity is often contradictory. Away is an Australia with simultaneously contradictions. Conservative yet progressive, anxious yet secure. Moreover, it is significant that Gow shows us these polar opposites coexisting in sympathetic characters such as Tom and Coral.

It is this same type of contradiction that Linda Van Nunen highlights in her interview with John Doyle. The feature article exposes the identity conundrum that is John Doyle – aka Rampaging Roy Slaven. The article contains a ridiculous blend of the serious and the obscure, the philosophic and the absurd.

??? You can travel the world but to see Lithgow in the Spring, is the experience of a lifetime??? and ??? If Jesus was playing for St. George where would you put him??? Identity is conflicting ??“ it is about the serious and the ridiculous; it is about the important and the trivial; and in this case the man and the persona. Entropic human events affect identity. Trauma and loss loom large as key aspects of identity from each respective family in Michael Gow??™s Away. One, with the death of their son in the Vietnam War, another, faces the prospect of losing their son through leukaemia, and the other by rigours of their daughter simply growing up.

The dramatic construct of the three parallel families works effectively in portraying the reality of emotional pain and loss. At the same time each family is in a state limbo as they search for some meaning in these experiences. Our past, our history, our subconscious are an inescapable aspect of our identity. Identity is therefore simultaneously part of our physical and emotional present while also existing in an elusive and sometimes illusionary, subconscious past. This also has relevance to a narrative by Hannah Robert (aged 18). Her highly descriptive and emotive recount is blurred between past and present tense.

The slightly ironic title Sky High points to an illusory, almost euphoric past. Whilst at the same time the emotional present weighs heavily on her, metaphorically ??? tying her to the ground???.

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