Deconstructing An Australian Icon Ned Kelly

1252 words - 5 pages

If you went into any Australian classroom and asked if anyone knew who Ned Kelly was, chances are you'd get an answer of something like: "mm yeah, that bushranger who had the steel bucket on his head who got shot". Not many people know the real story, but it is an intriguing one. Ned Kelly has, over the years, been described as a hero, "one of the most romantic figures in history", "the father of our national courage", an Australian icon. To a person with no knowledgeable background of Ned Kelly, he would be seen as exactly that. The real truth is though, Ned Kelly was a thief. He held ordinary people hostage, and shot and killed policemen. The reasons to why he has been glorified in such a way to be called a hero have been one of the great controversies of all time.Ned Kelly was born into a life that was surrounded by crime. Before he was born, his parents were sent from Ireland on a convict ship to Australia for committing petty crime. He entered life in 1854 in Victoria, and attended school at Avenel until age 12 when his father died. Ned's family was poor, and were forced to own land as 'selectors', where they were issued a piece of land to be paid off while they were living there. The land was small and the soil wasn't good enough to grow to make a living. Many of the 'selectors' resorted to stealing horses and cattle from the rich squatters, and Ned Kelly was no exception. At age sixteen he was convicted of receiving a stolen horse and served time in jail for three years.In 1878, Ned's mother, Ellen was convicted of wounding a policeman by shooting him in the wrist. Ned and his brother, Dan, were mistakenly accused of attacking the same policeman, so they fled to the bush where they formed the "Kelly Gang", joined by Steve Hart and Joe Byrne.Later on that year Ned and his gang happened to come across a group of policemen camping in the bush. Believing that the policemen intended to kill him, the gang called upon them to surrender. The police of course resisted and during the fight Ned shot three of them dead. By this time the reward for capturing Ned was an amazing 8000 pounds - the equivalent to 2 million dollars today.Many people admired the Kelly gang for their bravery, and helped them avoid police for over 2 years. It was during these two years that the Kelly gang robbed two banks - one in Euroa - and held the town of Jerilderie hostage.Although there was no way around that what they were doing was wrong, living in the 1800's in Australia life was hard - if you were poor you had to steal to survive, it was what being a bushranger was all about. If you managed to do this without getting caught, or killing anyone, and as long as the people you were stealing from were rich, people thought you were, rather than just being a common criminal, brave and bold, which was a popular image of bushrangers at the time.Something else attributed to this image of the Kelly gang. Most robberies were committed with an element of farce, distracting...

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