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Essay Henry Lawson Distinctively Visual
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- Effeminacy, mateship, love.
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But given the rigid and coarsened Australian masculine culture in which he mostly moved, the consciousness Lawson had of his femininity which was considerable meant that he tried to suppress or modify it so that he could find acceptance in conventional male company.
It had nuances that no longer really apply. I would further speculate that behind his back those men and women who knew him would have wondered about his sexual nature. Lawson identifies with others like him. He also recounts that he liked sitting with the girls at school, which was, in fact, seen as a punishment for misbehaving boys. Also I had an idea that I had lived before, and had grown up to be a man and grown old and died. I confided in Father and these ideas seemed to trouble him a lot. I slept in a cot beside the bed and I used to hold his horney hand until I went to sleep. Now try and go to sleep.
His diary is a remarkably impressive, unflinching attempt to see himself so clearly, so dangerously.
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About twenty years after his death, his wife Bertha published a biography of Lawson titled My Henry Lawson , in which she tries to describe his difference , drawing on what she knew of his childhood and youth before she married him:. But to his dismay, she accepted him…. Lawson taught Gordon how to put his swag together just so.
He also taught the others how to make a campfire properly, and when to put the billy on to boil; they laughed at him for his prim housekeeping. When they changed campsite, he created a camp for them with elaborate bush comforts. This is deepened by his quiet, though decisive, style of speech…it is in his virility of thought that his masculinity is manifested.
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His sense of humour, his talent for vivid portrayal, are as characteristically masculine. Schaffer was writing this in , before the social and academic discourse had made its remarkable breakthrough towards what has become gender studies, although she was already working at its cutting edge. The western, English-speaking discourse, and along with it the law, bureaucracy and social awareness, has moved to accepting other gender identities. New thinking in gender studies recognises that there is a spectrum of gender personalities each with its own integrity and often with a recognised style of public expression.
However the tensions and social uneasiness and denial of the legitimacy of this spectrum are still powerful even in Western cultures. While writing this essay, I heard a program on Radio National recalling the suicide in of the gay thirteen-year-old Tyrone Unsworth after being bullied at his Brisbane schools. His mother said he was gay and that he had been consistently bullied over his sexuality for years.
A few years back, I wrote to my friend, short story writer and publisher Tim Herbert, that I had again visited the Lambert sculpture of Lawson in the Botanic Gardens. No poet looked like this. The stance, its slender figure, and the poise of its delicate hands and wrists are effeminate. It is very different from the heroic, rugged, independent images of bush characters.
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Maybe a suggestion that Lawson did not present as a conventional male and was somewhat effeminate in his movements. In our times, perhaps the favourite stereotypical example of this in theatre is the man who holds out his little finger while drinking a cup of tea. A number of people who knew Lawson have described the somewhat charismatic quality of his physical presence, especially of his eyes. The female gender has evolved ways of using eyes for heightened expression with cosmetics and lash and brow shaping.
Maybe women have longer eyelashes and Lawson did too. His right heel about to push forward…Definitely a queer pose. Again, Tim and I were at lunch discussing the sketch and the statue photograph that I had with me. Capon suggested that maybe Lambert was having a joke with the committee. Colloquial and slang words for both have probably existed as long as language and the formation of what we know as Western masculinity, although the wearing of wigs, make-up and jewellery have had their place in male fashion in the upper classes and courtly circles.
Lawson, in his own observations, seems clear about the fierce negative markers and implications of his effeminacy. The androgynous nature is not uncommon in the arts. I have myself.
Or neither fully? Does it have special access to the gender spectrum? He was sixteen when she was thirty-eight, and they lived together in Sydney in a bohemian, radical, feminist household. Three years later he began a relationship with the poet and radical Mary Gilmore, who was two years older than him and better educated.
Gilmore taught him to use a dictionary and lent him books that she felt he should read. Heavy male drinking can be a form of emotional flight and absence. At some stage in his relationship with Mary he seems to have taken off to Western Australia for six months. If alive today, Lawson may not be as so destructively conflicted and disturbed by his effeminacy and could be bolder and more secure about himself, even substantially supported.
But he would recognise the still strong remnants of the primitive male culture he dealt with and the psychological damage and suicides it produces. He may also be surprised to find his moustache made him fashionably attractive to some gays. He was not ostracised nor his work rejected. Where does that fit into the picture of his personality and its expression? Historian Russel Ward in his classic work The Australian Legend OUP, , saw mateship as a central Australian value but does not resolve the place of women in the term.
Ward argues that mateship is based on the traditions of mutual aid among rural workers which emerged as the ideology of trade unionism and friendly or benevolent societies and convicts in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. He also identifies it as a public style or demeanor.
Henry Lawson Essay + 1 Related Text free essay sample - New York Essays
In , Prime Minister John Howard wanted the word mateship included in a proposed preamble for a revised constitution now discarded. While working on my essay I came to privately speculate that his creation and celebration of mateship might have within it a yearning for an intimate sexual bonding with a male. But remember Lawson was attractive to and attracted by women. In , at twenty-nine, Lawson married the nineteen-year-old Bertha Bredt, daughter of Bertha McNamara — , a socialist agitator and feminist who owned a bookshop.
Although the face-to-face relationship covered only five years of their lives divided into two parts , it can be seen as the most intense bonding Lawson had with another person, male or female. They shared their earnings and their food their blankets?