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MEG-09: Australian Literature

MEG-09: Australian Literature

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2023-24

If you are looking for MEG-09 IGNOU Solved Assignment solution for the subject Australian Literature, you have come to the right place. MEG-09 solution on this page applies to 2023-24 session students studying in MEG, PGDNLEG courses of IGNOU.

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Assignment Code: MEG-09/TMA/2023-24

Course Code: MEG-09

Assignment Name: Australian Literature

Year: 2023-2024

Verification Status: Verified by Professor

Q1)“Australian writings of the colonial period excluded the woman, often delegating to her the passive virtues of stoicism and endurance.” Do you agree with this statement?

Ans) The statement that "Australian writings of the colonial period excluded the woman, often delegating to her the passive virtues of stoicism and endurance" captures an aspect of the historical portrayal of women in early Australian literature. However, it is essential to acknowledge that the literary landscape of any period is diverse, and not all writings from the colonial era adhered to this exclusionary depiction of women.

Exclusion of Women in Colonial Literature:

Many colonial-era writings did indeed tend to marginalize or exclude women as central characters or voices. Australian literature of this period often focused on the experiences of male explorers, settlers, and convicts, relegating women to the background. Women were frequently depicted as passive and relegated to domestic roles, reflecting the prevailing gender norms of the time. Their narratives were often overshadowed by those of men, and their agency was limited.

Passive Virtues:

The portrayal of women in colonial literature often emphasized passive virtues such as stoicism and endurance. This was partly a reflection of the harsh conditions of colonial life, where resilience and endurance were essential for survival. Women were expected to embody these virtues as they faced the challenges of an unfamiliar and often hostile environment. This emphasis on stoicism and endurance often overshadowed their individuality and aspirations.

Literary Examples:

Examples from colonial literature support this notion. For instance, in Henry Lawson's short stories and poems, women are frequently depicted as stoic figures enduring the hardships of the Australian bush. In "The Drover's Wife," the titular character exemplifies this enduring spirit as she faces isolation and danger. In works like Marcus Clarke's "For the Term of His Natural Life," female characters are often secondary and serve primarily as objects of romantic interest or as symbols of moral purity.

Gender Roles and Expectations:

The colonial period was marked by rigid gender roles and societal expectations, which were often reflected in literature. These expectations limited women's opportunities for agency and independence. Women who did challenge these norms and sought greater independence were sometimes portrayed negatively in literature, further reinforcing traditional gender roles.

Counterexamples and Complexity:

While the statement holds true for a sizeable portion of colonial literature, it is essential to recognize that there were exceptions and complexities. Some writers did provide nuanced and multidimensional portrayals of women.

For example, Catherine Helen Spence's novel "Clara Morison" (1854) explores the limitations imposed on women in colonial society and critiques these restrictions. Spence's work challenges the passive depiction of women and advocates for women's rights. Additionally, the writings of Indigenous women from this period, such as those of Truganini, provide an alternative perspective that diverges from the passive portrayal often found in settler literature.

Evolving Representations:

As Australian society evolved and underwent significant social and cultural changes, so did the representation of women in literature. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, writers like Miles Franklin and Henry Handel Richardson began to depict more complex and independent female characters.

Q2) Discuss the theme of exploration in Patrick White’s novel Voss.

Ans) Patrick White's novel "Voss" is a rich and complex work that explores various themes, including the theme of exploration. Set in 19th-century Australia, the novel follows the ill-fated expedition led by the enigmatic and driven explorer Voss as he ventures into the harsh and unforgiving Australian outback. The theme of exploration in "Voss" encompasses not only the physical journey into uncharted territory but also the psychological and spiritual exploration of the characters.

Physical Exploration:

The central narrative of "Voss" revolves around the perilous expedition into the unexplored Australian interior. Voss aspires to conquer the vast, unknown land and make significant discoveries. His obsession with exploration drives him to undertake this treacherous journey, despite the dangers it poses.

Conflict with Nature:

The novel vividly portrays the harsh and unforgiving Australian landscape, which becomes a formidable antagonist in the explorers' quest. The land is portrayed as vast, indifferent, and often hostile, highlighting the immense challenges faced by those who seek to explore it.

Colonial Ambitions:

Exploration in "Voss" is intertwined with the colonial ambitions of the era. The expedition represents the European desire to conquer and possess new lands, often at the expense of Indigenous peoples. Voss and his party's journey are a manifestation of this colonial mentality.

Psychological Exploration:

Beyond the physical journey, the novel delves into the psychological exploration of the characters. Voss is portrayed as a deeply introspective and complex figure. His inner journey involves a search for meaning, identity, and a connection with the land he is exploring.

Spiritual Quest:

Voss's exploration can also be seen as a spiritual quest. He seeks a transcendent experience in the vastness of the Australian wilderness, hoping to find a deeper understanding of himself and the world. His exploration takes on a metaphysical dimension as he grapples with existential questions.

The Quest for Knowledge:

The expedition is driven by the quest for knowledge and scientific discovery. Members of the party, such as Judd and Le Mesurier, are motivated by their desire to collect specimens, document the natural world, and make important scientific observations. This pursuit of knowledge underscores the intellectual aspect of exploration.

Isolation and Alienation:

As the expedition progresses deeper into the wilderness, the characters grapple with increasing isolation and alienation. The vastness of the Australian interior intensifies their sense of loneliness and disconnection from civilization. This isolation becomes a crucible that evaluates their mental and emotional resilience.

Cultural Encounters:

The theme of exploration also involves cultural encounters between European explorers and Indigenous Australians. These encounters are marked by mutual incomprehension, misunderstandings, and conflicts. The novel highlights the cultural clash between the colonial mindset and Indigenous ways of life.

Fatalism and Tragedy:

The theme of exploration in "Voss" is intertwined with fatalism and tragedy. Voss's unwavering determination to explore the interior leads to dire consequences, both for himself and his companions. The novel explores the price of unrelenting ambition and the inevitability of suffering.

Q3) Critically evaluate the achievement of Henry Lawson as a writer of short fiction, bringing out the significance of his writing in the development of Australian fiction.

Ans) Henry Lawson, one of Australia's most celebrated writers, made significant contributions to the development of Australian fiction through his mastery of the short story form. His works, which often depicted the struggles and hardships of rural and working-class Australians, left an indelible mark on Australian literature.

Mastery of the Short Story Form:

Realism and Authenticity: Henry Lawson's short stories are known for their stark realism and authenticity. He captured the harshness of life in the Australian bush and the challenges faced by ordinary people. His ability to depict the lives of shearers, drovers, swagmen, and other working-class Australians with accuracy and empathy set him apart as an expert in the genre.

Vivid Characters:

Lawson created vivid and memorable characters that resonated with readers. His characters were not idealized heroes but flawed, relatable individuals facing everyday trials and tribulations. This relatability drew readers into his stories and made them connect on a personal level.

Evocative Settings: Lawson's stories were often set in the vast, unforgiving landscapes of the Australian outback. His descriptions of the bush and its natural beauty, as well as its challenges and isolation, added depth and atmosphere to his narratives.

Exploration of Themes:

Social Justice: Lawson's short stories frequently tackled themes of social justice and inequality. He highlighted issues such as poverty, exploitation, and the struggles of marginalized communities. Through his writing, he advocated for better working conditions and greater recognition of the hardships faced by the working class.

National Identity: Lawson played a significant role in shaping Australia's national identity through his stories. He celebrated the resilience, resourcefulness, and mateship of Australians. His works contributed to the development of a distinct Australian literary voice, separate from British literature.

Significance in Australian Fiction:

Pioneer of Australian Bush Realism: Henry Lawson is often regarded as a pioneer of Australian bush realism. His stories laid the foundation for a uniquely Australian style of storytelling that focused on the everyday lives of ordinary people in rural settings. This genre would later influence other Australian writers, including Banjo Paterson.

Influence on Subsequent Writers: Lawson's impact on Australian fiction can be seen in the work of later writers who drew inspiration from his themes and narrative techniques. His legacy is evident in the writings of authors like Patrick White, Christina Stead, and David Malouf.

Literary Recognition: Lawson's contributions to Australian fiction were widely recognized during his lifetime. He received acclaim for his short stories, poems, and essays. His writing resonated with readers across class and background, making him a literary figure of national significance.


Limited Scope: Some critics argue that Lawson's focus on rural and working-class themes limited the scope of his work. While he excelled in portraying these aspects of Australian life, his stories often revolved around similar themes and characters.

Gender Bias: Lawson's portrayal of female characters has been criticized for its limited depth and often stereotypical nature. His stories revolved around male experiences, reflecting the gender norms of his time.

Q4) The poem “We are Going” by Kath Walker “depicts the murder of an entire civilization and way of life.” Give your response to this statement.

Ans) "We Are Going" is a powerful and poignant poem written by Oodgeroo Noonuccal (formerly known as Kath Walker), an Indigenous Australian poet and activist. The poem explores themes of dispossession, cultural loss, and the impact of colonization on Indigenous communities in Australia. While it does not depict the literal murder of an entire civilization, it metaphorically conveys the devastating consequences of colonization on Indigenous cultures and ways of life.

Metaphorical Murder of a Civilization:

Loss of Culture and Identity: The poem vividly portrays the erosion of Indigenous culture and identity because of colonization. Lines such as "We are the shadow-ghosts / Creeping back as the campfires burn low" suggest that the Indigenous way of life is fading away, metaphorically "murdered" by the intrusion of European settlers.

Vanishing Language: The poem laments the loss of Indigenous languages, which are integral to the cultural identity of Indigenous communities. The lines "Our languages are dying / With never a word of hope" highlight the tragic decline of languages that carry the history, stories, and traditions of Indigenous peoples.

Desolation of Sacred Sites: The reference to sacred sites "Where the white men never trod" being desecrated by development ("Now only the tribe is gone") conveys the destruction of spiritual and cultural landmarks, symbolizing the destruction of a civilization's spiritual foundation.

Survival and Resilience:

Resistance and Resilience: While the poem acknowledges the immense challenges faced by Indigenous communities, it also highlights their resilience and determination to preserve their heritage. Phrases like "We are the old sacred ceremonies, / The law of the elders" underscore the continuity of cultural practices and the ongoing resistance against cultural erasure.

Connection to Land: The poem emphasizes the enduring connection between Indigenous peoples and their ancestral lands. The refrain "We are the land" reinforces the idea that the Indigenous identity is deeply intertwined with the land, and this connection persists despite the challenges.

Legacy and Future Hope:

Legacy of the Ancestors: The poem suggests that the legacy of Indigenous ancestors lives on in the hearts and minds of the present generation. The lines "The whispers of our mothers / Are in that returning wind" convey a sense of continuity and a commitment to passing down cultural knowledge.

Hope for the Future: While the poem mourns the loss of certain aspects of Indigenous culture, it also expresses hope for the future. The lines "The wailing message of the wind" can be interpreted as a call for change and a reminder of the importance of preserving Indigenous culture for future generations.

Q5) Consider Ed Tiang Hong’s poem “Coming To” as an attempt to re-define Australian identity.

Ans) Edwin Thumboo, a prominent Singaporean poet, authored the poem "Coming To" as a reflection on his experiences while living and working in Australia. The poem can indeed be seen as an attempt to re-define Australian identity from an outsider's perspective. Thumboo's observations and insights provide a unique lens through which to examine the evolving concept of Australian identity and its multicultural dimensions.

Re-defining Australian Identity in "Coming To":

Multiculturalism and Diversity: The poem written by Thumboo is a celebration of the multiethnic aspect of Australian society. He expresses his appreciation for the varied cultural backgrounds of the people he meets by referring to the "Eyes of Malays, Chinese, Eurasians, and Sikhs." By doing so, he underlines the depth and complexity of Australian identity, which is not restricted to any single ethnicity or culture. This is because Australian identity is not limited to any single ethnicity or culture.

Cultural Exchange: Thumboo's poem underscores the idea of cultural exchange as an essential aspect of Australian identity. He mentions "laksa lemak," a traditional Malaysian dish, and "corroboree," an Indigenous Australian gathering. These references signify the blending of cultures and the mutual influence that occurs in a multicultural society.

Integration and Belonging: Thumboo's poem suggest that belonging and integration are key components of Australian identity. He describes the "untroubled life" of the people he observes, emphasizing a sense of comfort and contentment in their adopted home. This challenges stereotypes of cultural isolation and highlights the idea that Australia is a place where people from diverse backgrounds can integrate and feel at home.

Natural Landscapes: Thumboo's references to the Australian landscape, such as "eucalyptus" and "poinciana," evoke a sense of place and belonging. The natural environment is an integral part of Australian identity, and Thumboo's inclusion of these references connects the people to the land.

Language and Communication: Language is another aspect of identity explored in the poem. Thumboo describes the "timbre of their languages" and the "music in their speech," suggesting that language is a marker of identity and a means of cultural expression. The diversity of languages and dialects in Australia contributes to its multifaceted identity.

Changing Perspectives: Thumboo's poem reflects changing perspectives on Australian identity. As an outsider, he brings a fresh viewpoint to the concept, highlighting aspects that may be taken for granted by those who have grown up in Australia. His poem challenges the idea of a fixed or monolithic Australian identity by emphasizing its fluid and evolving nature.

Inclusivity: The documentary "Coming To" champions the concept of inclusivity within the Australian national identity. Thumboo's views paint a picture of a culture that celebrates diversity and is open and accepting of people from all walks of life. The poem is a celebration of the idea that being Australian does not mean being restricted to a certain ethnicity or ancestry, but rather that it includes all people who make Australia their home.

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