Hotel Sorrento Essay

Question: With reference to the stage play Hotel Sorrento explain how you were positioned to respond to the representation of individuals and/or groups of people in the play. Hannie Rayson’s Play “Hotel Sorrento” explores the changing nature of Australian cultural identity. As a reader we are positioned to assess the contrasting views of characters who oppose ideas whether Australia has changed or not. Expatriates contrast with embracing Australians in order to show one of the underlying themes throughout the book.

Meg is an Expatriate who has lived in London and represents the cultural cringe contrasting with Dick, A character of patriotism who is embracing being a part of cultural developing Australia. In the 1950’s Australia represented notions of patriarchy, anti-intellectualism and a sort of cultural void by the 1990’s it was evident that change had been made. But to what extent is the issue the book discusses. Dialogue, is a key technique that is used to create characters and are what the audience relate to in order to respond in a certain way to identity ideas throughout the play.

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The reader is positioned to disagree with Megs views on Australia as Australians we don’t believe that we are what she makes us out to be. Through Meg’s expatriate eyes Rayson looks at the changes that Australian culture and identity has undergone over a ten-year period. Meg is the writer of Melancholy a book that seems to represent the way Australians are capable of producing great art, yet it receives great recognition overseas that the Australian society only have a limited capacity to transform or change. Which challenges the views of an Australian reader who don’t necessarily agree with ideas and values that Meg possesses.

She is a high profile achiever and represents the role of the Artist in Australia and the cultural cringe. Meg sees’ Australia as a country that “honours ordinariness” and is “rife with xenophobia and anti-intellectualism. ” This is a very limited view of Australian life and relies heavily on her family influences of drinking, fishing, mateship and the role of the mother. Meg mainly shows her view of Australia through dialogue where she is seen as a truth teller and communicates the ambivalence of the expatriate experience. Which we know is a stereotype and not the typical modern day Australian. er costuming being is sophisticated and European that constrasts with the other frumpy clothing Hillary wears or Pippa’s Americal clothing, implying she is or thinks she is superior over others. Rayson explores the contradictions that Australians can be unusually perceptive about others without direct verbal exchange. This is shown through Megs believes that Australians are unable to express passion (except sport) or emotional sensitivity which is contradictive as she is often insensitive and more the “Australian” character, than Hil, Troy and Marge who can be extremely thoughtful.

As an Australian reader we are positioned to disagree with Meg and therefore criticise her role as “an artist” due to her false and contradictory beliefs of the Australian culture. Dick represents a character of patriotism, he embraces being a part of cultural developing Australia, and as a reader we are positioned to harmonize with his values. This is done via both his and other characters dialogue. Dick is a journalist and social commentator representing a new view of Australia and Australian men.

He is the editor of a paper and as Hillary states “it’s the only other paper that gives the working men credit for having a brain” this gives him recognition and praise by other characters allowing the reader to positively respond to his character. The viewer responds to agreeing with Dick via many comments and values that he puts across. He points out that there has been progress and the intellectuals and artists have stayed in Australia and have worked hard to bring about change. Dick is quite aggressive and didactic. And rejects the representation of Australia and Australians in Meg’s book.

This coinciding opinions works in the book to create controversy and an issue. That the reader responds to by taking side and in this case is Dicks side. His opinion on Australian culture is valued more highly over Megs as He points out that her view is out of touch as things have changed since the 1980’s. He is right in saying that culture isn’t static as it is constantly evolving, this being a known fact in life, shows the reader his knowledge on the issue, further reinforcing to the reader to take his side on more matters throughout the play.

Dick’s character represents the loyalty in Australians and the culturally developing Australia, which is true in our society. Rayson has created dramatic opposing viewpoints through Meg and Dick to enforce to the reader that Australia has changed. By creating contrasting opinions through the characters the reader is positioned to reconsider or confirm their view on the matter. That is to what extent has Australia / Australian cultural identity changed. Through the dialogue at the large table argument primarily etween meg and Dick, where meg states “fact is, in this country there is a suffocatingly oppressive sense that what you do as an artist is essentially self indulge. I went away. And now I’m back. Nothing has changed” Dick opposes this statement. “see I think you are wrong… in effect you’re dumping on the people who are actually trying to do things” meg believes “the point is I think that this so called cultural renaissance is actually about patriotism which makes people like you very defensive” dick replies with “that bullshit” and the argument continues on the discussion topic.

Through the play before this event the reader has been positioned to take in both views from Meg and Dick siding to Dicks opinion as he doesn’t say harsh things about Australians. Rayson uses this scene in the play to reinforce Dick’s opinion is right and that Meg is in no position to write about or say that Australians haven’t changed. We are almost positioned to dislike Meg as her comments throughout the scene are irrational and almost insulting to some Australians.

As fact is all Australians know clearly that there has been dramatic change in society. this specific interaction of two opposing characters allows the reader to confirm there opinion and one of the major themes in the book that Australian identity has changed and is constantly evolving. Readers are positioned to agree with ideas that Australian Cultural identity has changed over the last 15 years and is constantly going to change. Readers are positioned through characters morals and ideas which are presented in Hannie Rayson’s Play “Hotel Sorrento”.

Two extreme characters; Meg an expatriate who believes that Australia as a country that “honours ordinariness” and is “rife with xenophobia and anti-intellectualism. ” and hasn’t changed through time. Contrasting with Dick who represents the new Australian male. these two contrasting characters allow the reader to see views on 2 extreme sides, and then are positioned through techniques like dialogue and general constructions to take Dicks side in believing that we as a society have changing attitudes and values, although this is generally a known fact, it is reinforced in the play. (concluding sentence)


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