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Social Context of Our Country’s Good

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The political issues within OCG lie embedded within the text and even subtext. The majority of these political issues are due to the crime and punishment. The convicts were sent to Australia instead of being hanged in Britain. However these crimes may have been really petty compared to today’s society. For example stealing a sheep, they were extradited to Australia. Even within the text mis-judgements on crime seems apparent. Someone stole a biscuit and was hanged or flogged until they passed out. Within the political issues regarding crime, specifically with Liz Morden, when she is going to be tried for stealing food from the stores, she says she can’t persuade the officers at all, if they want to believe she stole it, she stole it, END OF DISCUSSION. This links in with what happened in real life within Britain in the 18th Century, defendants accused of felony or treason were not allowed legal counsel, and the trials were skewed majorly in favour of the prosecution. Historically Britain has been a very powerful and in many places violent nation and I feel that Timberlake Wertenbaker tries to portray some of the faults of Britain’s past within OCG.

The culture of 18th Century is encapsulated within the play of OCG too; women appear to have little/no respect from the males, who in cases just treat them as sex slaves. Duckling and Harry are an example of this, both are using each other, Duckling is being used for sex, and Harry is being used for his home and food. However a lot of sexual references occur throughout the play, and it is something that was not frowned upon at all at this time in civilisation. “You could say we know each other in the dark” – Dabby Bryant. The links to sex at the present time being the 21st century would be highly frowned upon. Socially the play has many things that are deemed nowadays as ‘socially unacceptable’. Ross for example is a bully and treats the convicts so harshly. The relationships between the officers and convicts are an interesting topic, mainly because they differ a lot.

Harry-Duckling is a relationship where they are both gaining something and purely because Harry fancies having sex with Duckling on call whenever he wants. Ralph is the first officer within the play to treat the convicts with some sort of respect, Liza immediately notices this and starts to change totally when she realises this. Ralph also ends up falling in love with Mary Brenham which shows that he does have a heart underneath what appears a harsh brute like exterior at the start of the play. Timberlake Wertenbaker did very well to include all these connotations of civilisation within the play, both from the past and from the present. This play will also work well at any time period in the future, as you can compare flaws with the past societies and the current one from which it is being read.

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