The inherent connection between the land and those that inhabit it is represented in PW’s TOM and Henry Lawson’s Drover’s Wife, which through an intimate relationship, creates parables depicting the contemporary search for meaning and the domesticated realism of bush life. Although both texts explore the relationship between people as a yielding instrument to the dominant force of the landscape using different techniques, they both refute pastoral notions regarding the Australian bush. The exterior landscape as a representation of the interior geography of an individual’s mind is examined in both texts where the accounts of human spirits allows the audience to appreciate the beauty underneath the apparent harshness of the Australian bush. It is through exploring the perpetual connection between people and landscape through different ways that the intention is interpreted by the audience.
Patrick White’s Tree of Man explores the intimacy between people as a submissive existence and the landscape as the dominate natural force. The edenic immensity of the landscape is described in the beginning of the novel using language that replicates biblical diction. The simplicity of language is symbolic of the inherent power of the landscape and the intrinsic reliance people have on the land, suggesting that the landscape is far greater than man who is puny in comparison. The overwhelming power of the landscape is also exemplified through the landscape infiltrating the individual: “all and all were flung together in the progress that the land had made”. Combined with the heightened expression in the form of rhythm and cadences as an emotive device, this biblical register further emphasises that people are subordinate to the dominance of the land. By beginning sentences with conjunctions “and” and “but”, White creates a sense of incompletion by building on information referred to in previous sentences to ensure that they will flow and continue to supply future sentences, thus creating a mirror of the unending vastness of the isolated bush. This breaking of conventional writing also serves to conform to White’s literary realism and rejection of pastoral literature.
In the Drover’s Wife, Henry Lawson examines the overwhelming dominance of the landscape as an agent of influence on the relationship between man and nature. The representation of remembered landscapes is portrayed through the medium of time, where the storm precipitates anecdotal flashbacks. The constant shift between memory and present creates a repetitive impression of the drover’s wife’s difficulties, which like those in the Tree of Man, caused by the immensity of the landscape. These flashbacks that are interspersed in past tense, highlight that both the emotional and physical strains of bush life are not new, therefore developing the landscapes’ intrinsic dominance over the drover’s wife whilst the TREE OF MAN calls upon biblical diction to describe the immensity of the landscape. The adoption of the third person omniscient narrative voice helps denote that bush life has forced the drover’s wife to sacrifice many aspects of her life, including her femininity. The juxtaposition of her “trips to the best hotels” to her own son’s inability to recognise her “Dressed in a pair of her husbands’ old trousers” emphasises the dominance of the landscape as it forces change within individuals. The third person narrative voice also allows the audience to view the brutality of the landscape has enforced upon the drover’s wife from the maximum critical distance. This thus, emphasises the inherent power of the landscape on the relationship between man and land of both the Tree of Man and DROVER’S WIFE in order to the provoke a revaluation of pastoral literature from the reader.
The interior geography of the human mind is as represented in the Tree of Man, a parallel to the exterior landscape of the Australian bush. The geography of the bare physicality of Stan and Amy’s marriage is reflected in the exterior landscape of the harsh and untamed bushland in which they live in. This is shown through the pathetic fallacy where the narrative voice acts as both a voice for description and a mask of the interior monologue and dialogue of the characters. “In the comfortable silence…distance flooded his soul. He began to open” exemplifies the connection between people and landscape jrepresented in the interior monologues of the characters as the unending vast distance of the bush is used to describe Stan’s emotional life. The expanse of the landscape precipitates the opening of Stan’s soul like the landscape, so that he insinuates himself upon the land that envelops him. As they are picking the mulberries “in the brilliance of the day”, the environment conjures emotional intimacy between individuals as Stan recalls the “goodness and familiarity of her face”. This further mirrors the intimate relationship between people and landscape through the mulberry tree which serves as a central motif for the catalyst for thought. It is through the representation of the relationship between land and human that we learn to accept a kind of beauty in the apparent coarseness of the Australian bush.
The interior geography of the human mind is as represented in the tree of man, a parallel to the exterior landscape of the Australian bush. The geography of the bare physicality of Stan and Amy’s marriage is reflected in the exterior geography of the harsh and untamed bushland. This is shown through the pathetic fallacy found in the narrative, where the narrative voice acts as both a voice of description and as a mask for the interior monologues and dialogues of the characters. “in the comfortable silence…Distance flooded his soul. He opened up” exemplifies the intimate connection between people and landscape represented in the interior monologue of Stan where the unending vastness of the land is used to describe Stan’s emotional life. The expanse of the landscape precipitates the opening of Stan’s soul in parallel to the opening of the landscape as he insinuates himself onto the landscape that envelops him. AS THEY ARE PICKING THE MULBERRIES IN THE “BRILLIANCE OF THE DAY”, the environment conjures emotional intimacy between individuals as Stan recalls the “goodness and familiarity of her face”. This further mirrors the intimacy between people and landscape through the mulberry tree as a catalyst for thought and emotion. Thus it is through the representation the interior geography of the mind as a parallel for the exterior geography that the audience comes to appreciate the beauty in the apparent coarseness of the AUSTRALIAN BUSH.
Henry Lawson’s the Drover’s wife explores the exterior geography of the landscape as a mirror of the interior human psyche of those that inhabit the land. The negative overtone of the language used to describe the bleak environment portrayed in the short story parallels the depressively monotonous psychological situation of the drover’s wife through imagery to create notions of realism, in contrast to WHITE’S USE OF NARRATIVE VOICE. “Bush all around – bush with no horizon” creates a sense of physical monotony that is reflected in the emotional exhaustion of the drover’s wife who “one day sat down to have a good cry”. This use of short sentences and casual phrases reverberates throughout the short story, echoing the isolation of the landscape and reflecting the spiritual exhaustion of the drover’s wife. The parallel between the exterior geography and the mental state of the drover’s wife is also illustrated by “rotten native apple-trees. No undergrowth”. This use of pathetic fallacy in contrast to White’s use of symbolism, serves to exemplify the harshness of the bush as a metaphorical portrait of the emotional weariness of the drover’s wife. By exploring the relationship between the battered human spirit and the brutality of the Australian bush, both White and Lawson presents an account of bush life that allows the audience to appreciate the beauty of the landscape.
+ Bonus Mont Blanc by Percy Shelley
Mont Blanc by Percy Bysshe Shelley shows us the true experience of nature. This is achieved in the poem through the transition from the physical beauty of the landscape to the metaphysical experience of the sublime, leading to an understanding of god and spiritual transcendence via nature and the natural world.
Initially, Shelley establishes the connection between human imagination and physical landscape in order to reveal the true experience of nature. This notion is grounded upon the fact that within this experience, neither imagination nor physical landscape can exist solely; the two must work together. This is first manifested in the second stanza of the poem, “Where Power in likeness of the Arve comes down/ From the ice gulfs that gird his secret throne.” Here, the personification of the river represents the “Power” and supremacy of nature, a metaphor for the potential of human thought and imagination. However, Shelly also emphasises, “And what were thou, and earth, and stars, and sea, / If to the human mind’s imaginings / Silence and solitude were vacancy?” The line, through the use of rhetorical questioning, engages with our logos to show that the true experience of nature is presupposed by imagination. Without imagination we are unable to connect to nature and experience the “trance sublime” and “separate phantasy” as depicted by the persona, but merely only “vacancy”. Thus, although we can see that the landscape is almighty and powerful, reflecting our powerful imagination, Shelley postulates that we must first attain imagination in order to truly experience nature.
The latter half of the poem transitions to demonstrate that the imaginative experience of the sublime, as established in the first two stanzas, leads to spiritual transcendence and a greater understanding of god via the natural world. This is manifested through Shelley’s representation of the surrounding landscape as “unearthly forms” whilst Mont Blanc is described as “blue as the overhanging heaven.” The juxtaposition between the two landscapes, exemplified by the transcendental language of “unearthly” and “heaven”, indicate the movement from the physical landscape to the metaphysical, illustrating nature as the catalyst for the spiritual transcendence of human beings. Therefore, for Shelley, the essence of nature is predicated upon the divine and spiritual in which all human beings can achieve with imagination.
Hence, Shelly shows us the true essence of nature and how one must experience it. This being, the intrinsic connection between imagination and nature, and the subsequent connection with spirituality.