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Mateship - Essay Example

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Mateship Mateship has often been regarded as primary value of Australia and epitome of Australian national identity. The term emerged in the second half of the 19th century “it derives from the word 'mate`, used in Australian English as a synonym for 'cobber`, which denotes a habitual companion, associate, friend or partner” (Wilde, 1994)…
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Download file to see previous pages Henry Lawson has often been celebrated as one of the pioneering figures of the Australian male “mateship” ideal. Meanwhile, women writers of the late 19th century like Barbara Baynton, Miles Franklin and to some extent Rosa Praed, have been recognized as subversive or ambivalent figures with regard to the mateship. The aim of this paper is to compare the ways in which ‘mateship’ figures in the Works of Miles Franklin, Henry Lawson, Barbara Baynton, Rosa Praed. Australians embraced the notion of mateship to an extent that it was recently suggested to add a specific reference to the mateship within Australian constitution, as it has become a part of the national ideology (Page, 2002, 193). The writings of Henry Lawson heavily contributed to the formulation of mateship ideal in the late 19th century. The defining characteristic of his mateship notion underscored helping your mate in times of adversity and hardship. Unconditional solidarity exists between mates. The fraternity between mates has a vital importance for men who struggle to survive in the Australian bush. Lawson’s short story, “A Sketch of Mateship”, delineates his understanding of mateship. ...
ends with the narrator’s following note: “Now it strikes me that if this had happened in a civilized country (like England) Bill would have had Jim arrested and jailed for larceny as a bailee, or embezzlement, or whatever it was. And would Bill or Jim or the world have been any better for it?” (Lawson, 1902, “The Skecth of Mateship”). Nevertheless, the story gives ambivalent and paradoxical messages about the nature of mateship. On the one hand, you stand by your mate whatever happens even when he does not fulfil his obligations; on the other hand it shows that your mate may not back you up. From this story, it is difficult to understand how mateship is egalitarian when your mate can easily sell you out. It is also not clear that, how you can trust your mate in times of adversity, when you cannot trust him even with your money. In this story, it seems like mateship is a one-sided bond, in which you support your mate unconditionally while he can easily bail you out. In Lawson’s exclusively male stories of mateship, women are excluded. Lawson excludes females from the world of mateship and treats them as wives or burdens. Marriage and family responsibilities drain men’s freedom. In his stories, there is no place for women in the difficult conditions of the bush. For him, females are weaker and cannot survive in the bush. “The Drover’s Wife” exemplifies his one of the rare heroines and an Australian bush girl. Although she is strong and survives many hardships, she is still not allowed into the bush. She only makes small walks by the bush, while waiting his husband who struggles in the bush. While Lawson excluded women from the bush and the world of masculine mateship, women writers of the late 19th century (Baynton, Franklin and Praed) sought to ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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