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‘Away’ by Michael Gow

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  • Pages: 5
  • Word count: 1049
  • Category: Journeys

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Life is merely a journey. On a journey, an individual experiences a range of obstacles, either expected or unexpected, which shapes their life. Such obstacles initiate the process of change and transformation. Clearly, through a close study of the play ‘Away’ by Michael Gow, the poem ‘Whither will I Wander’ by William Shakespeare and the picture book ‘I had trouble in getting to Solla Sollew’ by Dr Seuss, the characters experience various degrees of change and transformation. Factors that impact on the degree a character changes and transforms include: support networks and the ability or inability to accept reality. Through the use of language and visual techniques, each composer conveys how each character faces a degree of change within their journey. The ability to take on board the help of others and to maintain strong support networks to accept the present and move on to a seemingly better future has been convey through the character of Coral. In the play ‘Away’ by Michael Gow, Coral’s journey is derailed when she abandons her husband on the Gold Coast and travels down the North Coast of New South Wales. During her short stay, she participates in the re-enactment of ‘Stranger by the Shore’ with Tom.

On page 54, Gow states in a stage direction, ‘He removes the towel…He lifts her and holds her as she takes a step forward’. Here, Gow has utilised the behaviour of characters, which is a central feature of mise-en-scene, to symbolically illustrate how Tom assists Coral in working towards overcoming her emotional and social insecurities. Unlike Roy, whose insincere approach to Coral reinforced her emotional and social alienation, Tom’s approach to Coral, which is guided by his own tragedy, is empathetic. By displaying an empathetic approach by actively assisting Coral rather than belittling and insulting her, Tom was able to positively assist Coral in changing and transforming both emotionally and socially.

In contrast, the lack of assistance in the poem ‘Whither will I Wander’ by William Shakespeare leads the persona to finds himself lost in the middle nowhere. As he starts to ponder on the countless possibilities in which his journey could lead him to, he, just like Coral, also begins to lose his sanity. On the contrary to Coral, the persona does not accept the reality that he is lost, whereas Coral does. This brings forward a delusional outlook on his life, which hinders his journey from advancing. His deteriorating mental state is highlighted through the repetition of the rhetorical question, ‘now I’m aimless and alone?’ The use of rhetorical question emphasises how the persona is questioning himself repeatedly, which reinforces the fact that he is mentally unstable.

The central factor contributing to his mental instability is the sense of alienation. Throughout the poem the persona shows no acceptance to the fact that he is lost, which evidently alludes to the persona not only being lost physically but also mentally. This shows that the persona’s barrier that is stopping him from advancing in his journey is himself. While on the other hand, Coral has come to the conclusion that she cannot change the past but she can move on with the present. Although the two both have mental instabilities barricading their journey, one decides to move on and the other cannot come to terms with the fact that they are lost, which evidently barricades the individual from changing and transforming positively.

An individual’s ability to assist others with their issues and problems allows an individual to deal with their own issues and problems. In Michael Gow’s play ‘Away’, it is apparent that through the character of Tom, an inner struggle develops within his journey. Tom learns that he does not have long to live due to him being diagnosed with leukaemia. Tom builds up a barrier where he alienates himself by excluding people from entering his private life. He builds up a fear where he is in the belief that if he were to express his feelings to people, they would ridicule him about his illness. As the play progresses, after assisting Coral, Tom begins to realise that there is no point in hiding something that is inevitable. Tom’s belief prompts him to have a different outlook in his life. Gow portrays this through the particular choice of costuming wear, ‘Tom is wearing a Hawaiian shirt’. Through this dramatic technique, the audience has seen the transition from Tom’s dull clothes to Tom dressing in a ‘colourful shirt’. The different colour of his shirt becomes symbolic, portraying the fact that Tom has finally come to terms with the fact that he does not have long to live, and henceforth there is no point pondering on the past. Evidently this shows how Tom has transformed by accepted the present and is willing to move on towards the future, be it short lived or not.

Likewise, the acceptance of a trouble ridiculed life has been portrayed by the persona in ‘I had trouble in getting to Solla Sollew’. The persona in the picture book ‘I had trouble in getting to Solla Sollew’ by Dr Seuss, finds himself in the midst of countless troubles in his quest in finding a land, where ironically has no trouble at all. Through his journey he begins to accept the fact that this land is a fabrication of his imagination. He has also realised that if he was to overcome any obstacles, he is to face them head on. This perspective has been conveyed in the line ‘now my troubles are gonna have trouble with me’. The emphasis of troubles recurring countlessly has been highlighted through the repetition of the term troubles. Dr Seuss uses this technique to address the reader to what the persona feels about his barriers in his journey and evidently in his life. The persona has come to the conclusion that there is never going to be an uneventful life, without uncalled for troubles recurring unexpectedly. This perspective has been portrayed by Tom, as he also begins to accept the fact that life is always going to be eventful. This connection further reinforces how no matter how much barriers will hinder their journey, overcoming them causes each individual to change and transform by accepting the present and moving on towards the future.

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