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Discovery Essay on “Away” Michael Gow

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“To discover is to gain sight or knowledge of something.” How have ideas about discovery been shown in Away and The Book Thief Discovery allows main characters to gain sight or knowledge into themselves and others. This is evident in Michael Gow’s Away, as seen through the characters of Gwen, Coral and Tom. The three gain sight and knowledge into their lives through the different perceptions and ideas of discovery. Similarly, in The Book Thief, Liesel gains sight and knowledge into the world around her, with the help of books which allow her to become educated about the immoral acts that are occurring in society.

As a result of her discovery, Coral gains sight and knowledge when she is awakened from her slumber by Tom at the amateur night. After the death of her son in the Vietnam War, Coral was emotionally disconnected from reality. This is evident at the play of A Midsummer Night’s Dream when Coral explains in her soliloquy that she was “sitting there in the dark wiping away tears”. Coral feeling emotional at a humorous play makes it clear how trapped in her grief she is. At the Gold Coast Luxury Hotel, Coral speaks to Rick and says “Come into the dark, give me your hand..a boy like you”.

The dialogue conveys that Coral is delusional and is trying to envision Rick as her son by inviting him into the dark. By doing so, it highlights her deep loss for her son and need for a discovery to accept her son’s death. Coral gains sight into the real world, and knowledge that she can continue on with her life at the amateur night. During the play within a play, The Stranger on the Shore, Tom helps Coral to find her legs and walk, in a metaphorical and literal sense. This is Coral’s release from her grief, back into the real world. This gain of sight and knowledge leads to the idea that discovery can challenge the individual, as seen through Coral’s large amount of emotional grief in the lead up to her discovery.

Gwen gains knowledge and self- awareness through insight that material goods are not as important as family after learning about Tom’s impending death. As a result of Gwen’s upbringing in the depression, she consequently places a false value upon materialistic goods. At the night of the play, Gwen asks Meg “Why did you have to do Shakespeare for? We couldn’t see a blessed thing”. Through her dialogue in relation to the Shakespearean allusion, this displays that Gwen resists the emotional depth that Shakespeare represents, and that she is metaphorically blind. Once Gwen discovers the knowledge about Tom’s condition, she gains sight, and is no longer metaphorically blind to reality. Through her sight, she realizes that family is more important than placing a false value on materialistic goods. This idea of discovery has been explored through relationships and events which significantly impacted on her new found knowledge and sight.

Tom, the agent for change gains sight and knowledge into the acceptance of his impending death. The opening of the play starts with the ending of A Midsummer Night’s Dream where Tom as Puck says “Gentles, do not reprehend. If you pardon, we will mend.” This foreshadows Tom’s healing role in the play. Although Tom seems to be the character in the least need of a discovery, he still gains sight into the reality of his condition and knowledge that he needs to accept this. This is evident through reading King Lear. The scene is set outside, as instructed by the stage directions. This displays the positive atmosphere of the scene and reinforces the healing power of nature. The garish, artificial light from the opening scene is contrasted by nature. Through the Shakespearean allusion of King Lear Tom’s discovery becomes apparent as he comes to terms with his own death as he reads “unburden’d crawl toward death”. Tom has reconnected with nature and now has a fresh understanding and knowledge of his condition and can die an unburdened death.

In a similar way, in The Book Thief allows the main characters to discover knowledge and insight. Liesel Meminger undergoes a discovery with the assistance of books and her foster father, Hans. When Leisel moves in with her new parents, Rosa and Hans, she does not know how to read or write. She is humiliated in front of her peers when they make fun of her for being illiterate and chant to her saying “dummkopf” which means fool in German. The dialogue shows that Liesel is in need of a discovery of how to read.

On the celebration of Hitler’s Birthday, Liesel steals a book from the bonfire. The prop of the book, The Invisible Man by H.G Wells allows Liesel to educate herself in how to read. As a result of this, she discovers that she does not agree with Hitler’s ways and propaganda.

World War ll is occurring in the world, and Hitler is in power. This is evident through the prop of the swastikas on the Nazi flag, on each house. This prop establishes the setting of the movie. Throughout the movie, Liesel undergoes a discovery of sight and knowledge when she realizes that the extermination of Jews is not right and that she does not agree with Hitler’s ways. This idea of discovery is encouraged when Max Vandenburg, a Jewish man is hidden in their basement. From this, Liesel develops an empathy for Jewish people and realizes what Hitler is doing is wrong. She gains sight and knowledge into the outside world through reading books, that she didn’t previously know.

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