critical discourses in AWAY

Critical Discourses in Away
Ways to read Michael Gow’s play Away
Feminist Criticism
 Feminist Criticism is concerned with the relationships between
literary texts and the place of women in society.
 Given Coral’s and Gwen’s (two significant female characters)
position within the play, a feminist reading could be made
 For example; Gwen is a stereotypical harassed housewife- she
seemingly does “everything” for her family ergo she
perpetuates the idea that women should embody the caring
role in our society
 Coral is expected to behave a certain way by her husband, she
is “saved” by males in the text, and her reaction to her son’s
death is seen as emotional (compared to her husband’s logical
reaction). Again this perpetuates gender stereotypes
Psychoanalytic Criticism
 Psychoanalytic Criticism in concerned with the way in which
literary texts represent the unconscious thoughts and desires
shared by members of a culture
 Psychoanalysis is concerned with the fulfillment of desire and
the ways in which characters in texts emulate this human
 Feminists can use psychoanalytic criticism as a method for
reading texts, as males and females are stereotypically depicted
as wanting different desires based on gender-stereotypes
Psychoanalysis in Away
 Away can be looked at through a psychoanalytical lens in a few
 Tom desires sexual fulfillment
 Roy desires for his wife to be “normal”
 Gwen desires for people to see her as important
 Looking at these desires alone can develop a psychoanalytical
reading of the text
 Looking at the desires with gender stereotypes in mind can
assist in a feminist reading of the text
Marxist Criticism
 Marxist Criticism is concerned with the ways in which literature
maintains beliefs and values which support the ruling classes in
 As a play, Away can be viewed as supporting the ruling classes
as its genre demands a certain amount of social status to be
accessible to people (unlike cinema which is more affordable)
 This is only the case in terms of viewing professional
performances of the play
 Gow presents multiple classes within his text and doesn’t
appear to privilege the ruling class
 Refers to the ways in which texts and authors have played a
part in the colonisation (literal or metaphorical) of particular
 It aims to make writers and readers aware that all
representations of people and cultures are shaped by particular
historical and social perspectives
 Postcolonialism could be applied to Away to assist a feminist
reading of the text in terms of the way that women have been
metaphorically ‘colonised’ by men in regard to the expectations
set upon them (as seen through Roy’s pressure on Coral to
remain “normal”)
Postcolonialism cont…
 Postcolonialism also applies, as no Aboriginal Australians are
represented in Away
 This means that Gow is perpetuating the idea that Aboriginal
people (the colonised) are the “other” and succeeds in unifying
the “invading” culture (white colonists)
 Not only are white Australian families represented but each
social class is shown, solidifying the idea that all white
Australians are unified and Aboriginal families are very much
the “other”
 Is a broad term referring to both an historical period and ‘style’
in Western culture, based on the merging of artistic and
industrial forms of production
 Postmodern texts can often be identified by the mixing of
genres and a resistance to fixed or singular meanings
 The use of pastiche was widely used in postmodern texts
 Postmodern texts can be particularly difficult for readers who
have been brought up with more traditional values and
attitudes, due to the inherent multiple meanings underlying
postmodern texts
Postmodernism in Away
 A postmodern reading can be applied to Away when
considering Gow’s obvious inclusion of intertextuality and
allusion to Shakespeare
 A lot of the deeper meanings in Away rely on a reader’s
knowledge, and understanding of, Shakespeare, in particular A
Midsummer’s Night’s Dream and King Lear
 Gow is not parodying Shakespeare, but rather using his work to
pastiche Shakespeare’s as Gow is celebrating the work and
“reinventing” it

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