Australian literature: What images and constructions of 'Australian-ness' are represented in early Australian literature?

Essay by TullyUniversity, Bachelor'sB+, April 2002

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The concept of 'Australian-ness' had began its construction from before the English even reached Australia. Then as now Australia was seen as the land of opportunity. A new land with no history or system (Aboriginal society didn't exist to the British), waiting to be carved out and shaped by the new arrivals. From the beginning of the history of post-colonised Australia, the contributions and experiences of women, non-Anglo migrants and Aborigines were virtually ignored. Their stories certainly played no role in the forging of the Australian identity.

What are the images and constructions of 'Australian-ness'? Although the Australian identity has transformed over time in essence our national identity remains the same today as it was form the beginning of its development; 'masculine, White Anglo-Irish and heterosexual.' (Schaffer 1988, p12).

According to the myth the 'Typical Australian' is a practical man, rough and ready in his manners and quick to decry and appearance of affectation in others.

He is a great improviser, ever willing to 'have a go' at anything, but willing too to be content with a task done in a way that is 'near enough'. Though capable of great exertion in an emergency, he normally feels no impulse to work hard without good cause. He is a 'hard case', sceptical about the values of religion and of intellectual and cultural pursuits generally. He believes that Jack is not only as good as his master but, at least in principle, probably a good deal better... He is a fiercely independent person who hates officiousness and authority...yet he is very hospitable and above all will stick to his mates through thick and thin... He swears hard and consistently, gambles heavily and often, and drinks deeply on occasion.' (Ward n.d., p1-2, in Schaffer...