The Question of Identity in Ned Kelly Essay

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1 Australia’s Question of Identity British colonist, Irish immigrant, Aborigine...the list of different groups that define themselves as “Australians” is endless. Since Australia’s society can be seen as a “puzzle” consisting of European and Asian immigrants living together with Aborigines, the indigenous Australians, there is no unique culture. In other words, there is no one shared story, no essential Australian identity. Australia’s understanding of national identity to answer the question of who “we” (as Australians) are is and has always been an important part of literature, too. To get an insight into the Australian way of life it is important to investigate how literature constructs and shapes the understanding of a national identity. Just by analysing texts, including writings that have “[...] been ignored or excluded during the process of canonization” (Assmann 23) we are able to reconstruct the understanding of a national identity. Thus, although Australia, due to its heterogeneity, does not have a shared story, literature is able to design one. One important class of literature that is essential to trace down shared values of a nation, a story that unites all members of a group, are legends. According to the Oxford dictionary, a legend, also called a myth, is defined as “a story from ancient times about people and events that may not be true [...]” (Hornby). It can be said that every culture has its own national legend that is being transmitted from generation to generation, serving as a shared history within one’s culture. One of the most popular narratives of Australia is the legend around the Kelly Gang. The leader of the gang, Ned Kelly the notorious bushranger, can be compared to other literary heroes like, for example, Robin Hood, that stand for the prototype of a criminal but are also associated with the utmost generosity and kind-heartedness. His

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