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Ned Kelly a hero or a villain?

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How does a man hanged for murder, become an Australian national hero?

Ned was just 16 when he was convicted of receiving a stolen horse and served three years in gaol before being released in 1874. Whether or not he was set for a life of crime is hard to say, but one event had a dramatic effect on determining his future and that was in April 1878. A police officer called Fitzpatrick accused Ned’s mother of attacking him and Ned of shooting him in the wrist. But whatever actually happened, the end result of Fitzpatrick’s claims was that Mrs Kelly was sent to prison for three years and a one hundred pound reward was offered for the capture of Ned. From that, time on Ned and his brother Dan kept to the bush. On the 26th October 1878, together with friends, Joe Byrne and Steve Hart, they came across police camped at Stringy Bark Creek. Ned believed the police intended to kill him and Dan so he called on them to surrender. Nevertheless, three of the officers resisted, and in the fight that followed their death.

The reward for Kelly and his gang rose to two thousand pounds and would later rise to an amazing eight thousand pounds, the equivalent, today, of nearly two millions dollars. In June 1880, Ned made his last stand at the Glenrowan Hotel when police surrounded them. Prepared to fight, the four bushrangers wore suits of armour made from steel. During the battle, Ned escaped through the police lines. Rather than fleeing into the bush, he returned a number of times to fight police. He was trying to rescue his brother and friends. Eventually, he collapsed with more than 28 bullet wounds to his arms, legs, feet, groin and hands. After Ned recovered, he was convicted of the murder of one of the police officers at Stringy Bark, and despite protests by thousands of supporters, was sentenced to death.

At the age of just 25 on the 11th November 1880 Ned Kelly was hanged in the Melbourne Gaol but he has grown to be an admired if infamous figure for the way he stood up to authority and his larrikin ways. ‘I think Ned deserves a decent film on him to tell his story … his story deserves a true history made on it, not something that’s been changed or glorified with things added to it because his story doesn’t need that,” he said.

People think he is a hero. He is a bloody killer. Ned Kelly was an outlaw and a convicted police killer. Ned Kelly has hardly left the news. His life has inspired newspaper articles, biographies, plays, films, poems and novels.

Ned Kelly’s story has many amazing elements. It can been seen as one of a poor boy of great skill, devoted to his family, wronged by the police and the legal system and – following a tragic series of events – executed at the age of twenty five. However, there are sharply differing views: the Ned Kelly story rests on different interpretations of facts.

Some feel it is an Australian story with Kelly as the archetypal Australian challenging authority. There are also broader questions raised by his life. Was he a freedom fighter? Was he attempting to spark an uprising? When do people have the right to resist the law?

According to some, he was a murderer and a cattle thief elevated to hero status by a public looking for a hero. He was a police killer. He used the innocent for his own ends. Four townspeople were killed in the Glenrowan shootout when he was captured. The story of Ned Kelly has become a source of myth, and sometimes the narrative leaves out important facts. The stories and films that focus on his life build on the myth. Other interpretations use facts to paint a different picture. One view suggests there was sympathy for

Kelly at the time of his trial and execution: a petition for clemency gained thirty two thousand signatures in Melbourne from a population of three hundred thousand. Some commentators say that we need to consider the Kelly story in a broader context. They claim that Ned Kelly was a victim of his circumstances. He lived in a society of inequality between rich and poor, country and city, Irish Catholics and English Protestants. In the Jerilderie Letter, Ned Kelly described himself as a defender of the oppressed and a “widow’s son outlawed”.

Ned Kelly is Australia’s first hooligan. The ‘terrorist hostages’ held at the Glenrowan Hotel in fact danced and sang. The fact that thousands of Victorians signed a petition to oppose the execution of Ned demonstrates this point. A stronger parallel can be made between Kelly and Peter Lalor, a generation earlier. Lalor’s Eureka rebels took up arms fought troopers and opposed the Crown in a desperate attempt to get a fair go. Ned Kelly deserves his rightful place in Australian folklore and history.

If my life teaches, the public that men are made mad by bad treatment, and if the police are taught that, they may not exasperate to madness men they persecute and ill treat, my life will not be entirely thrown away.

My notion is we cannot tell if Ned was a good or bad person. What he done he done for the sake of his family friends and relatives. In addition, what he done was bad? He promoted violence and threat on the streets of Australia. He risked all of his life to get his mother out of jail and to get the police officer back for what he done. In the end, he died a sad man not completing hat he wanted to do. In a way, you cannot call this person a hero and you cannot call him a villain. He only did what he thought was right and nothing else. He is a hero because he done what was right and he defended the rights of all the poor people I would regard him and Robin Hood. He robbed from the rich and he gave to him poor.

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