Inheritance, by Hannie Rayson. Inheritance challenges the authenticity of what we see in Australian values: a fair go for all and the family as a cherished institution. Do you agree?

Essay by PlaigiaratorHigh School, 11th gradeA-, September 2008

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“Inheritance” by Hannie Rayson is a play about the war between two families, the Delaneys and the Hamiltons, over property. Rayson questions the authenticity of Australian values, due to the human weaknesses the characters present in the play. The Australian values Rayson challenges in this play include “a fair go for all” and “strong family ties”.

In this play, not every character is entitled to equal chances. Nugget is an example of this. He is the bastard son of Farley Hamilton, and an aborigine. His adopted mother, Dibs Hamilton, disowns him immediately after his father passes away. She also denies his promised land by tearing up Farley Hamilton’s legal will, because of his origins.

Julia Hamilton works for a multicultural company, with colleagues from ‘different’ heritages. She is pregnant with a “tall Indian bloke named Graham”, meaning she will have a ‘brown baby’. However, her efforts to ‘give a fair go to all’ are shadowed by her sister-in-law, Maureen Delaney.

Maureen is a politician, campaigning to assimilate, or eliminate if they refuse, immigrants and aborigines to her standard of the true “Australian way of life”.

It is a typical Australian value to have strong family ties. In this play, the cracks in the Hamilton and Delaney families begin to show. This is because of the different lifestyles they have lead over a long period. Farley Hamilton betrays his wife by having an affair with a younger woman, producing a child in the process. He betrays her again when he changes his will without Dibs’ notice, giving the property to his son Nugget instead.

The whole family is usually arguing, and fighting. There are even characters who “whisper in others’ ears”. Almost every character acts for their individual interests, and not for the family. Sometimes a family member might stand up...