Our Country's Good, By Timberlake Wertenbaker

1834 words - 7 pages

Timberlake Wertenbaker's 1986 play Our Country's Good follows the first colony in Australia as they struggle to form a community. She uses both comedy and tragedy to illustrate how people adapt to new situations and overcome difficulties. The colonists adapt to their new home and the many changes, the officers adapt their views on punishment, and various characters devolve and evolve, this all leads to the evolution of hierarchy within the colony.

Comedy and tragedy in Our Country's Good are deeply intertwined, following the developments within the colony. The convicts, upon arriving, may have entertained brief hopes that their future may be somewhat brighter in this new and unknown world, that justice may be more humane, that it would not be a “human hell”; some convicts seem perfectly able to forget and forgive in order to move on, such as Sideway, who dismisses Ralph's allusion to having counted Sideway's lashes with “Different circumstances, Mr Clark, best forgotten.” (I.v.). Others seem more resigned to their fate; in-expectant of change, they believe that nothing has changed and that the officers will always be just as cold and cruel as before. This is illustrated when Phillip asks “Surely we don't have to hang an 82-year-old woman?” and Collins replies darkly “That will be unnecessary. She hanged herself this morning.” (I.iii.)
Sideway's more optimistic view on the situation is more characteristic of comedy whereas Dorothy Handland's suicide is much more tragic, however the black humour with which it is presented renders even this tragic news more comic. This is made easier by the fact that Dorothy Handland only appears at this point in the play, the news of her death is the only time we hear of her and so as a reader and as an audience we are not given the chance to form enough of an emotional bond with her character in order for the tragedy of her death to overcome the comedy of Collins' black humour. Concerning convicts, we are not given much information about their settling in to their new home, however what we are told is mostly positive.
As for the officers, Ralph at the beginning of the play seems determined to hate the place, he refers to it as “this dismal country” and “this iniquitous shore” (I.iv.), all the while expressing in his diary his discontentment at being separated from his wife for so long, and the sexual frustration that this causes him, as can be seen in Act One Scene Nine, in which it is implied that he does more than simply kiss his wife's portrait, he takes out his pent up sexual frustration: “Dreamt my beloved Betsey that I was with you. […] He goes down on his knees and brings the picture to himself”
While Ralph took the separation rather badly, others seemed more to enjoy it; the new landscapes, animals, and plants all fascinated them, and Australia's avian population was of particular interest to certain officers, none of whom seemed to be overly critical of hunting, indeed Collins remarked “You have...

Find Another Essay On Our Country's Good, by Timberlake Wertenbaker

The Story of Justin Timberlake Essay

2139 words - 9 pages Hospital for Children, an organization specializing in the care of children. His donations help to save lives and improve the health of children in need. Timberlake also donates to Water.org, a charity that helps people in developing countries. His impact has helped people here in the U.S., as well as people all over the world (“Justin Charity”). Timberlake has influenced many people in his life, just as he was influenced by others. In an

Guernica's History Essay

1086 words - 4 pages I date everything I do? Because it is not sufficient to know an artist's works--it is also necessary to know when he did them, why, under what circumstances" (Picasso). An appreciator who knows the saga of Spain's historical fishing village is given a depth of experience that only a genius like Picasso could portray --"it may well be the most terrifying document on the horrors of war ever to be produced by an artist" (Wertenbaker 126). Most

Margaret (peggy) Timberlake Eaton

1141 words - 5 pages Margaret (Peggy) O’Neal (who preffered to be called Margaret) was born in 1799 in Washington DC. She was the daughter of William O’Neal, who owned a thriving boarding house and tavern called the Franklin House in that same town. It was frequented by senators, congressmen, and all politicians. She was the oldest of six children, growing up in the midst of our nation’s emerging political scene. She was always a favorite of the visitors to the

Factors that Create Limitations to the Students when Pursuing Life Opportunities

1731 words - 7 pages well as sixteen characters ranging from students, teachers, parents and many others. The play serves as a demonstration on how with encouragement and resources, students at these low-funded schools can achieve success. With a passion for theatre and education, Sun found a way to unite these passion to help build the confidence of these forgotten students while focusing on performing a play based on Timberlake Wertenbaker’s 1988 "Our Country's

Cell phones should be banned from classrooms

669 words - 3 pages Our world has evolved into a technological era. Third graders never had a cellphone, our had a computer or laptop but was supervise by parents. In today’s world third graders are now getting cell phones and they are creeping into our schools/ classrooms. Because of cell phones in our classrooms our students are not learning. Cell phones are a good asset to our world because they keep in touch with persons or family all around the world but it

media censorship

973 words - 4 pages Censorship has been around since B.C. times and originated in Rome. Censorship was enforced to protect our society by not allowing explicit content to be viewed in the media. It also protects child pornography and secret government information leaks. The problem is in some cases are hard to determine on what should be censored because even though something might be explicit content it portrays the point the publisher is trying to make. On the

Debate: In today's world, image is everything

536 words - 3 pages Girls which portray the idea of popular cliques, the one we desire to be to a part of, the one we change our image to be part of. These films are based upon reality, unfortunately on us. Not just students, even teachers have a good or bad image on trivial matters such as a haircut.You might say that image is not important in all matters. There are things, such as health and faith, where image does not matter. But is that true really? Are we not

Elitism and Institutional Power

1209 words - 5 pages generate extraordinary returns across a range of investment choices, while maintaining our good name and the good name of our investors." (T.C. Group LLC) Prior to having this prestigious position who was Frank Carlucci? How did he obtain this position? Most people in Washington would state that, in order to get a job that affects other people or make social change, it is all about who you know. Some people are susceptible to taking care of the people

Ice packs and hot packs

1123 words - 5 pages helpful for both injuries and the reducing of swelling and pain. “Inside the plastic container of a cold pack there is a compartment containing solid ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3) that is separated form a compartment containing water.” (Timberlake, Karen, 245) When the ice packed is crushed a reaction occurs between the water and the ammonium nitrate. “The temperature drops to about 4 to 5o C to give a cold pack that is ready to use.” (Timberlake

Alcohol

1674 words - 7 pages WILLIAM TECUMSEH SHERMAAlcohol plays a major role in society today. It is constantly being ....... in our minds through advertisements, whether its commercials or billboards, holidays, or even just at the popular social scene. Alcohol is consumed for many purposes, such as celebrations, to increase romance, out of boredom, or a way to relax. Alcohol is a drug that is depended upon by the majority of our society. Nonetheless, alcohol has very

How have the various generations of professional historians depicted the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries' New England Puritans?

882 words - 4 pages with economic stability, and that there self proclaimed commitment to a religious way of life took a backseat to those economics.This movement was led primarily by three scholars who believed wholeheartedly thought that the Puritans were hypocritical and very authoritative people. These scholars were none other than James Truslow Adams, Vernon Ferrington, and Thomas Wertenbaker. They viewed history as a good versus bad phenomenon: a continous

Similar Essays

Timberlake Wertenbaker's Our Country's Good Essay

1967 words - 8 pages As an actor, outline your approach to the development of the role of Ralph in Act One of “Our country’s Good” “Our Country’s Good” is a naturalistic drama written by Timberlake Wertenbaker. As an actor, outline your approach to the development of the role of Ralph in Act One of “Our country’s Good” “Our Country’s Good” is a naturalistic drama written by Timberlake Wertenbaker, based on the novel The Playmaker by Thomas Keneally. The

Timberlake Wertenbaker : Our Country's Good The Redemptive Power Of Theatre : How Does The Experience Of Putting On A Play Affect The Characters In Our Country's Good

3519 words - 14 pages " would have helped human rights a bit by highlighting certain points and displaying what really happened behind closed doors.As I have said, Wertenbaker based "Our Country's Good" on reality and she gained many unique insights into the life of an inmate through Joe White. Wertenbaker corresponded with White in the summer of 1988, after she visited the prison he was being held in to see a production of a different play. Later, White organized a

Our Country's Good, Acting Advice For Act 1 Scene 5

1137 words - 5 pages sure he gives Mary the impression that he wants her to be in the play by telling her all of the good things that other people have said about her; "The Reverend Johnson told me you could read and write, Brenham". The first time that Ralph's and Mary's meet should be when they both start reading the play to each other, "whilst there is life there is hope". Every time the two look each other in the eyes when they are reading the play the

Evaluation Of The Work Of The Group

2242 words - 9 pages spoken emphasises a scene, the images being portrayed to the audience and the situation all the concerned actors are featured in. Following "The Hands of Time", we studied "Our Country's Good", a play written by Timberlake Wertenbaker and set in 1789. This stimulus was different to "The Hands of Time" because it was a play, describing the situation of a girl who knew she was guilty, and her prison officer