Our Country's Good, by Timberlake Wertenbaker Essay

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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
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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 been made Governor-in-Chief of a paradise of birds, Arthur.” (I.iii.)
The overall tone of these passages, save descriptions of flogging, is quite positive and hopeful; passages concerning the convicts being just as positive and hopeful on the whole, it is reasonable to say that there are sufficient comedic aspects to the manner in which the First Fleet

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